The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

Iran on the Move: Warships sail to Syria

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By M K Bhadrakumar
Asia Times Online
February 22, 2012

A flotilla of Iranian warships crossed the Suez Canal and docked at the Syrian port of Tartus on Saturday. Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the mission displays Iran’s “might” despite 30 years of relentless sanctions.

The flotilla comprised the 18th Fleet of the Iranian navy. The warships would hold exercises and will “train Syrian naval forces under an agreement signed between Tehran and Damascus one year ago”.

The influential cleric and deputy chairman of the Majlis’ parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Hossein Ebrahimi said:

“The presence of Iran and Russia’s flotillas along the Syrian coasts has a clear message against the United States’ possible adventurism. In case of any US strategic mistake in Syria, there is a possibility that Iran, Russia and a number of other countries will give a crushing response to the US.”

The activities of the Iranian warships at Tartus (which is also used by the Russian navy) will be keenly watched by the regional countries – Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in particular. Unconfirmed reports appeared recently that veterans of Iran’s Qods Force (a special unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) might be dispatched to Syria to assist the regime.

Simply put, Iran’s message to Turkey and its Arab allies (which are arming and supporting the Syrian opposition) will be: “Brothers, if you keep doing this, so can we.” There is much food for thought here for these countries – especially the oil monarchies – as they gather in Tunis this coming Sunday for the first meeting of the “Friends of Syria”.

For Turkey, the Iranian warships have arrived in Syria at an awkward time. The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that the Syrian army had captured 40 Turkish intelligence officers involved in subversive activities and over the past week Ankara has been “conducting intensive negotiations” with Damascus to secure their freedom. But the latter insists in return Turkey ending weapon transfers and infiltrations, and, furthermore, wants Iran to be the mediator. Ha’aretz noted:

Western officials fear that Iranian military presence along with Russian aid could turn Syria into a center of international friction much worse than the struggle inside Syria. They fear that the control over actions in Syria will be taken over by a Russian-Iranian “partnership” which would exclude the European Union and Turkey …

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Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

February 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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