Iran claims its navy enters Mediterranean as tensions with Israel grow
Iran’s navy claimed its warships entered the Mediterranean on Saturday to show its ‘might’ to regional countries, as a high-level American official was due to arrive in Israel.
18 Feb 2012
The claim, released through the official Iranian news agency, came at a time of growing speculation that Israel will launch airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear programme.
“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.
He did not say how many vessels had passed through the canal, or what missions they were planning to carry out in the Mediterranean, 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, had docked in the Red Sea port on February 4, according to Iranian media. But Iran has made claims about its military moves before that have later proved wrong. There was speculation the ships may have been on the way to Syria, where Iran has supported President Bashar al-Assad’s ruthless repression of an uprising.
The admiral said the deployment would also convey Tehran’s “message of peace and friendship.”
Two Iranian vessels reportedly passed through the Suez Canal last February, soon after Egypt’s uprising, for the first time since the 1979 revolution.