Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Two Iranian vessels enter Suez Canal

Maritime officials say two Iranian warships have entered Suez Canal and are making headway to the Mediterranean Sea. According to Iran, the ships are headed toward Syria for training. Israel has voiced concern about the mission, calling it a "provocation".

It is thought that the vessels are the first two to have passed through the waterway since Iran's Islamic Revolution, in 1979. They entered the “canal at 0545 (0345 GMT)".

Egyptian officials have been assured by Iran that the ships contain no military equipment or nuclear materials. The only way Egypt could have denied transit through the strategic waterway is if there was a threat of war. The Iranian ships are to be based at a Syrian port, thus solidifying the close ties between Damascus and Tehran.

Israel is concerned about Iran's latest undertaking as it considers the Islamic Republic a threat due to its controversial nuclear programme and support of Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups.

Last week, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: "To my regret, the international community is not showing readiness to deal with the recurring Iranian provocations. The international community must understand that Israel cannot forever ignore these provocations.”

Sources: BBC News, Washington Post, Jerusalem Post, AFP

For more news and expert analysis about Iran, please see Iran Strategic Focus.

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