Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Iran warships enter Mediterranean as tensions with Israel growIran's warships entered the Mediterranean on Saturday to show its 'might' to regional co

Two Iranian vessels passed through the Suez Canal last February, soon after Egypt's uprising, for the first time since the 1979 revolution

Iran's warships entered the Mediterranean on Saturday to show its 'might' to regional countries, as a high-level American official arrived in Israel.

Iran sent two of its warships into the Mediterranean on Saturday as tensions with Israel worsened and a senior American official arrived in Tel Aviv.
State television presenters in Tehran were triumphant after Iranian ships passed through the Suez Canal for only the second time since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Map showing route followed by Iranian warships on the way to the Mediterranean (AFP)

Reports said they had docked in Tartus, the main port for Iran’s embattled ally regime Syria which has been convulsed by an uprising for almost a year.
“The strategic navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran has passed through the Suez Canal for the second time since the (1979) Islamic Revolution,” said navy commander Admiral Habibollah Sayari.

Iran's Navy Commander Admiral Habibollah Sayari announces naval drills in 2010.
Hamed Jafarnejad/AFP/Getty Images files

He claimed that Iran was showing its “might” to regional countries - with Israel the one the Iranians most want to impress. The admiral also made the unconvincing claim that the mission sent a “message of peace and friendship.”
Israel immediately put its navy on alert.

The deployment raised tensions with Israel at a dangerous time, with speculation growing that air strikes are being prepared against Iran’s nuclear programme before it reaches a point where it cannot be stopped.
Dan Fayutkin, an Israeli Defence Force officer and expert in military strategy, said that the movement of Iranian vessels into the Mediterranean risked starting a war.
“Any military move made now by either Israel or Iran would be hostile,” he said.

Iranian spokesmen did not say how many vessels had passed through the canal, or what missions they were planning, but said the flotilla had previously docked in the Saudi port city of Jeddah.
Two Iranian ships, the destroyer Shahid Qandi and supply vessel Kharg, docked in the Red Sea port on February 4, according to Iranian media.

In February last year two Iranian vessels passed through the Suez Canal, soon after Egypt’s revolution, for the first time since 1979.
Iran’s navy has been used for sabre rattling several times in recent months, especially in the strategic Strait of Hormuz where it faces powerful American naval forces.
A series of assassinations in Iran of nuclear scientists, and terrorist attacks against Israeli diplomats in New Delhi and Bangkok in the past week, have raised tensions between the two enemies to new levels.

Hours after the ships passed through the Suez Canal, the US National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon, arrived in Israel for talks with senior officials about Iran and the crisis in Syria.
Senior US officials have warned in recent weeks that Israeli opinion is starting to favour the air strike option.
However, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, voiced cautious optimism yesterday about the prospect of Iran returning to nuclear talks with six world powers.
At a joint press conference they said they had received a promising new overture from Tehran.
Mr Donilon’s visit came ahead of a visit to Washington by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for White House talks with President Obama in early March, where the leaders are likely to focus on Iran and the failure to find a deal on resuming direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

Meanwhile, on a visit to Tokyo, Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak said a nuclear-armed Iran would trigger an arms race in the Middle East.
“Crippling” sanctions should be imposed on Tehran to force it to give up its atomic programme, he said. In The Daily Telegraph yesterday the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, also warned of the danger of a nuclear Cold War in the Middle East because of Iran’s nuclear programme.

Links :
  • Aljazeera : Iran and Syria: A show of strength and unity

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