Why Was the Mavi Marmara Reflagged Just Before Sailing? 84

Contrary to virtually all media reports to date, it appears the Mavi Marmara was reflagged from Turkey to the Comoros Islands around 20 May, shortly before heading the peace flotilla.

This is very important. While the Israeli attack remains illegal, it means that the injured party – and the party with legal jurisdiction over the event – is the incapable Comoros Islands rather than the highly capable Turkey. It also greatly reduces the NATO angle, unless other attacked ships were flying the Turkish flag.

But the question must be why on earth was the flag changed just before sailing, and who instigated it?

Flags of convenience are normally adopted for purely commercial reasons to escape regulations of s “serious” flag state like the UK or US, in particular on issues like rates of pay, union recognition, working conditions and hours etc. The Turkish owned merchant fleet uses flags of convenience much less than other advance nations – possibly from national pride, possibly because Turkish regulations are not too onerous anyway.

But it would seem remarkable if the owners of the ship decided for commercial reasons to switch flags just before sailing in the “Peace flotilla”. It is on the face of it a remarkably foolish decision. Did the Turkish governrnent influence it to lessen the political responsibility of Turkey in any incident? Did Israel manage to influence the owners in any way? Is the vessel leased? Who are the owners, and just why did they do this?

None of this masks the illegality of Israel attacking a ship under any foregin flag in international waters. But bluntly, it was a stupid decision in practice by the protestors to set sail in a Comoros flagged ship.

Fortunately the MV Rachel Corrie is Irish registered, and the flag state (Ireland) has already shown it takes its duty seriously by telling the Israeli government it expects the Rachel Corrie to pass unhindered.

84 thoughts on “Why Was the Mavi Marmara Reflagged Just Before Sailing?

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  • Monty

    @ Christina – there is some doubt over the Rachel Corrie. Craig asserts it is Irish registered.

  • Monty

    Where is the MV Rachel Corrie now?

    Various reports had her headed to Cyprus, Crete or Turkey.

    The curious thing is that she seems to have switched her AIS transponder off 4 days ago when she was leaving Malta.

    I believe this is against IMO regulations.

    You can track most merchant ships on a Google map on marinetraffic.com via their AIS signals.

  • Mae

    Craig – I understand that the Mavi Mamara makes for the most serious case as people were killed but the other boats were also violently attacked and taken over. Several passengers from those other boats describe the Israelis firing before boarding and then using excessive force in taking over the ships even though they did not fight back at all. This is an account from one of the two American flagged ones:

    ANN WRIGHT: Well, I saw the attack on the Marmara also of the helicopters coming over, the rappelling down of the soldiers, the sailors, the Zodiac boats coming up the side, the spraying of them. Then, with that, the captain of the Marmara told us to go ahead to try to get as far away as we could, because we had the fastest boat. We were?”as Huwaida very accurately described, our boat was boarded. People were thrown on the deck. Windows were blown out. Flash bangs were used. One of our journalists was hit with something of an electric shock. I don’t know that it was a taser. She doesn’t know, either, yet. One of the women was hit in the face, in the nose, with one of the liquid-filled balls. They were very excessively rough, excessively forceful, on trying to slow down, stop?”actually, we were already stopped. They weren’t stopping us at all. We were already dead in the water, and yet all of this force used on us.


  • writerman

    I think it’s a mistake to go down the BBC ‘cock-up’ theory path. That the Israeli attack was somehow a ‘mistake’ or a ‘botched’ job, a raid that went badly wrong with tragic consequences to follow… and on and on…

    This is a form of diversionary tactic designed to muddy the waters, and soon one is arguing about the tiny details of conflicting versions of the same events, and soon one can’t see the wood for the trees, which is the whole point.

    There’s no such thing as a 100% successful military operation, things are always going wrong. Careful plans and strategy often fall apart when confronted with reality on the battlefield. One even calculates for this when on plans an operation.

    Israel knew exactly what it was doing and why. Just like when it decided to take a hard line with foreign peace activists and journalists inside Israel and the occupied territories, and began to use snipers to assassinate them. This tactic worked. There are no far, far, fewer foreigners taking part in such activities. Killing them worked and had the desired effect. But not totally.

    The day after the attack a young, American, female, artist took part in a demonstration against the massacre, she was fired opon at pointblank range with a teargas canister which hit her in the face, leading to her losing an eye, as yet no American politician has expressed outrage at this dreadful crime.

    Israel didn’t just want to stop the flotilla. It wanted to punish those taking part and send a clear and deadly message to others with similar ideas and plans. Try to breach the blockade, try to cross us and our policies, try the Ghandi, Mandela, non-violent route, and we will shoot you down like the dogs we think you are. Non-violence won’t protect you. The is a lesson they wrote in blood, in letters ten feet tall.

    The reaction of the United States, and that moron VP Joe Biden, shows that Israel calculated correctly. They are allowed to get away with murder, now, even of foreigners outside Israel, which is nothing new, but the shear, barzen nature of these acts of terrorism, show the are immune and the law is what we say it is.

  • Mae

    writerman – I agree with you, sadly. Furthermore, the crackdown internally is now happening exactly as predicted last year – Israeli Arabs arrested for espionage, Israelis who took part in the flotilla will be kept in custody for another week (as the court decided today), the MP who took part attacked in the Knesset, Israeli journalist warned he will be tried for treason for reporting on Israeli atrocities if he steps foot on home soil and so on – consequently the demonstrations in Israel this time were tiny compared to the past. And not because they don’t care but because they don’t dare.

  • writerman

    Is this a conspiracy theory too? Isn’t it the sad truth that the vast majority (just look at the way they vote for evidence) of American politicians have been ‘bought’ by Israel, and he who pays the piper ect?

  • Egbert

    I wonder how secure the ship registration process is. Some time ago, I beleive there were numerous scams at Companies House where company registration details were changed fraudulently by 3rd parties. I believe similar problems exist or used to exist with internet domain name registrations. These fraudulent changes were all made without the real owners being made aware of the updates.

  • kingfelix

    Writerman is correct. The ‘botch’ was also used by the Israelis to explain away their assassinations as ‘botched arrests’

    The answer to why not wait until the boats were in Israeli waters is perhaps twofold.

    1) the boats were waiting at night outside the Israeli waters, making it a good time to attack them

    2) precisely *because* Israel had no right, then they assume that right by force. They will be satisfied that they have now established a precedent that requires nothing more than 3 bad news cycles.

    Adorno writes about the same tactic, that the hardest thing for democratically inclined people to deal with was/is when another group simply ignore the rules and take power.

  • Craig

    You don’t have to enter Israel waters to reach Gazan waters.

    The MV Rachel Corrie was shown on TV news yesterday flying the Irish flag and not the Cambodian flag.

  • Monty

    @ Egbert – interesting question you ask.

    The Maritime Administration of the Union of Comoros, headed by the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, whilst being administered by the State’s Ministry of International Transport, has been delegated to with the full operation, development and protection of the Union of Comoros Ships International Registry, worldwide.

    The Union of Comoros Ships International Registry is a Bulgarian outfit.

    Bulgaria 8000, Bourgas 11, “Vazrzadane” Str.


    8000 Bourgas

    11, Vazrazhdane Str.

    Tel. +359 56 87 90 51

    Fax +359 56 84 05 19

    A.O.H. +359 899 14 02 15

    Working hours:

    Monday – Friday 09.00 – 18.00

    e-mail: [email protected]

    PIC: Boyan Bihlyumov

    Deputy Commissioner for Maritime Affairs

    Full details of provisional registration procedures involving 14 documents are available here:


    Within 3 months the original documents have to be submitted for the registration to become permanent.

    The question is, as Egbert asks, how secure is this process?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Power speaks through the barrel of a gun. The state of Israel is one enormous gun-barrel. They did it because they could. The application of terror requires only that. It is a propaganda exercise designed to terrorise. The media flak, such that its is, will be taken care-of by the usual battalions of lapdogs who work on the web and in the MSM. Woof! Woof! Here, boy, come to heel! Sit!

  • ScouseBilly

    “Even Angela Merkel has come out with some unusually harsh criticism. Given the collective responsibility of the German people for the situation in Israel, this is completely at odds with the position taken normally.”

    Posted by: Mae at June 3, 2010 6:24 PM

    Mae, can you explain just how the German people can possibly have collective responsibility for “the situation in Israel”? I’d say the German people have been lied to for the last 100 years. If any country has a responsibilty, collective or otherwise, for the Israel situation it must be Britain, or have I missed something?

  • craig


    Mae’s meaning was perfectly clear. If you are seeking to deny the holocaust you can go away. If not, better explain yourself.

  • glenn

    ScouseBilly: The British were pretty much chased out of Israel when a large number of UK military soldiers and officers were blown up by Stern Gang terrorists (Israeli terrorists) in the King David hotel. Incidentally, the Stern Gang invented the car bomb – yet another gift from the Israelis to the world.

    Imposing this Zionist nightmare on the Palestinians was definitely the responsibility of the UK and US. We considered them expendable. Clearly, we still do.

  • Joe

    4 more rockets were shot today from the Gaza strip toward Israeli civilians. Just for fun.

    I wonder why those darn Israelis are so obsessive about checking what’s being shipped to the Gazans.

  • ScouseBilly


    I would never seek to deny the holocaust – far from it.

    This accusation of “collective” responsibility has been a narrative that has blighted the collective psyche of two generations of Germans.

    For the 12 years ’33-’45 in particular the German people were taken to war on a false prospectus, their media controlled, dissenters marginalised (often permanently) their education system subverted – ironic how history repeats itself.

    I feel guilty that my country set the dangerous precedent of undermining International Law and illegally invading Iraq but I know (and knew at the time) that I was lied to by Blair and a cabal throughout Westminster and Whitehall largely aided and abetted by compliant media.

    I would, however, object to a poster writing, “given the collective resonsibility of the British people…” in regard to the Iraqi dead. It’s known as stereotyping in psychology, elsewhere as generalisation or blanket prejudice.

    As for the situation in Israel, it should never be forgotten that it was Britain that lied to the Arabs (through the unwitting T.E. Lawrence). They were promised Palestine in return for their sacrifice fighting the Ottoman Empire in WWI. The Balfour Declaration broke that promise. And the participants at the meeting prior to that document that I referred to in an earlier posting were Zionists – not simply jews as you put it.

    If you think I am anti-semitic, or anti-jewish, you are mistaken. Anti-zionist?Yes, vehemently!! Anti-German? In spite of a relentless diet of post-war propoganda. of course not. I have many German friends (born post-1945) and I don’t see them “collectively” or individually as anything other than human beings. Yes, some admit to guilt for the sins of their fathers and grandfathers but also are fed up with constant reminders and villification.

    Of course, it would be wrong to deny or forget what happened, or indeed to think that Nazism doesn’t still affect us today. Are you aware of Walter Funk’s “Europaische WirtschaftsGemeinschaft” (European Economic Community). If not, the speech/lecture was given in Berlin, 1942. Each section practically mirrors each Chapter heading of the Maastrich Treaty. Again, I wouldn’t hold the German people collectively responsible.

    I hope that clarifies.

  • glenn

    Oh, by the way, ScouseBilly: It goes without saying that had the Germans not done what they did in WW-II, we’d never be faced with this devastating situation right now. They are completely and utterly responsible, in the final analysis, for causing this disaster.

    Given the way they behave in Israel, I’d hazzard a guess that if the Germans had brought their clever, industrious Jewish contingent in on the whole Nazi programme, it would have got a whole lot further than it did. After all, the Israelis have shown an enthusiasm for propaganda, genocide and mass concentration camps that would bring a lump to the throat of anyone from the top brass of the Third Reich.

    If Adolf could have had his time again, I bet he’d decide to keep Jews on-side, and just go after socialists, communists, intellectuals, gypsies and so on, because Jews had _such_ potential for advancing Nazi policies.


    Not to say all Jews, of course, just as not all Germans went along enthusiastically with the regime. Just enough of them to appear to be the majority, and to call all the shots.

  • glenn

    Joe: _thousands_ of Palestinians have been killed by the Israelis, either by sniper fire (children are well targeted), or by ordinance dropped from the air. About 100:1 deaths, Palestinians to Israelis, in recent years.

    Are you equally concerned about who’s supplying these instruments of death to the Israelis? No? Why not?

  • ScouseBilly

    glenn at June 4, 2010 1:56 AM

    In 50 years time, people may well say the mess that is Iraq, in the final analysis is down to the US and Britain.

    Do you think your grandchildren should be labelled as being collectively responsible?

    In similar vein, how ludicrous, disingenuous and conceited was it for Blair to (collectively) apologise for slavery?

  • glenn

    ScouseBilly: To answer you by point.

    Please note my distinction between the Germans as a people, and individuals. I don’t see why we have to wait 50 years – we can say right now that the mess in Iraq is entirely down to the US and British. And it’s not the grandchildren, it’s us – me and you – who are responsible. We haven’t done enough, and didn’t do enough, to stop it. We were/are Good Germans.

    Grandchildren do not bear the responsibility, but arguably if their country was build upon the backs of others and these grandchildren are benefiting from it, they ought to acknowledge that.

    Blair has enough to apologise for personally, more than enough to last several lifetimes. He has no time to apologise on behalf of anyone else.

  • ScouseBilly

    glenn at June 4, 2010 2:20 AM

    Yes, we are responsible for Iraq, but what could we do? I guess you marched too. I was aware that many in the FCO warned against war but it made no difference.

    I fell out (at the time) with many friends, colleagues and even family over Iraq. Many of our peers were all too easily swept along with the orchestrated propoganda. I don’t think it was all that different in 30’s Germany.

    Let’s face it they virtually had full employment (after the depression and hyper-inflation of the Weimar Republic). Many believed what they were told. Plus ca change….

    The only difference that I see is that many of the Nazi’s especially the main players were prosecuted and/or met their deaths. To some extent the German people’s conscience was purged at Nuremberg.

    What have we got? Chilcott, the latest in a series of toothless “inquiries”.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    “To some extent the German people’s conscience was purged at Nuremberg.”

    NO, it wasn’t you fucking asshole. Mass child killing and mass rape were carried out by the Wehrmacht.

    Read a fucking book; there are all sorts of books on WWII European history. Maybe next time you won’t so easily walk into your own form of Holocaust denial.

  • ScouseBilly

    Larry from St. Louis at June 4, 2010 4:18 AM

    Note the qualification “to some extent” which you deliberately ignored – the context being we (UK) have done nothing to assuage our conscience or reclaim any sense of honour in the wider world (excepting St Loony, naturally).

    You equate the Wehrmacht with the German people. By that logic, the civilians of Dresden, Hamburg etc. deserved the firestorms our bombers inflicted – nice, Larry.

    Incidentally, if you knew anything you’d be citing the SS rather than the Wehrmacht but truth isn’t your strong point.

    Nighty night, Mr Shill.

  • Conrad

    This to me just confirms my worst suspicions. That the Israeli government plan to assasainate several activist on the flotilla therefore the mad dash by powers to be to reflag the ship. And to my reasoning also directly implicates sevral governments including the one with the capability to monitor communictions through the NSA a.k.a U.S.

    This will only backfire because it confirms intent to murder meaning premediatation.

  • Conrad


    I agree their was a horrible tragedy being the Holocaust. Have you been to the Holocaust Musuem in Washington, D.C. truly tragic. Let’s also not forget the Red Army went on a brutal rampage raping every German woman they could. There are no victors in war. Also let’s not forget the estimated 10,000,000 christian ukranians that were starve to death by the jewish controlled bolshievik revolution. I would call that a Holocaust too. Injustice is never limited to one race or ethnicity but rather to the weak and powerless.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    Conrad, did you happen to see the videos? My God, if they just wanted to shoot people, they would have done so with better efficiency.

    I think the “peace activists” should have refrained from striking the Israelis, and worked it out.

    I was actually going to bring up the westward rape rampage committed by the Russian troops. Without a doubt that happened. But following the denier ScouseBilly’s “argument,” if Zhukov had been hung, then the rapists would have been absolved (to some extent).

    Thankfully when the Allied armies came across Germany, they weren’t raping and pillaging or otherwise committing the same crimes that were committed by the Germans and Russians and other Europeans.

    You were sounding slightly reasonable, but then you’re a commenter on Craig Murray’s blog, so you really have to reveal yourself to be a hateful nut.

    Blaming the deaths of “Christian” Ukrainians on “Jewish” Bolsheviks is a very sick and unnecessary rewrite of history.

    Like the others here, you’re simply full of hatred and stupidity.

  • angrysoba

    “If Adolf could have had his time again, I bet he’d decide to keep Jews on-side, and just go after socialists, communists, intellectuals, gypsies and so on, because Jews had _such_ potential for advancing Nazi policies.”

    Are you fucking kidding me?

    “Not to say all Jews, of course…”

    Well, how exceedingly generous! Does your wife know you talk like this?

    “Also let’s not forget the estimated 10,000,000 christian ukranians that were starve to death by the jewish controlled bolshievik revolution.”

    Oh Christ! The “Bolshevik Jew” is Nazi propaganda.

    Did the Bolsheviks contain Jews? Certainly, but many of those were purged and killed by Stalin. Yes, Stalin. Was he a Jew? No, he was an anti-Semite.

    The Ukranian famine had nothing to do with persecuting Ukranians for their Christian religion and it was not a “persecution by the Jews” so stop this garbage.

    Jesus Fucking Christ!

    Why is it people here whine about being tarred as anti-Semites when they so gleefully engage in it?

  • ScouseBilly

    Larry: “But following the denier ScouseBilly’s “argument,” if Zhukov had been hung, then the rapists would have been absolved (to some extent).”

    Defamation and misrepresentation in one sentence. Try reading my post at 1.52am, then explain how exactly I’m a “denier”.

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