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Friday, February 18, 2011

So the Iranian ships are coming through Suez after all

Although it looked for a little while that this was a false alarm, it looks like it is true.

From YNet:
Egypt has approved the passage of two Iranian warships through the Suez Canal, a source said on Friday, a move that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman previously described as "provocative."

"Egypt has agreed to the passage of two Iranian ships through the Suez Canal," the security source told Reuters.

The two ships would be the first Iranian military vessels to pass through the canal since Iran's 1979 revolution.

To navigate the strategic waterway, naval vessels need the approval of Egypt's Foreign and Defence Ministries.
J. E. Dyer at Commentary describes why this is a big deal:

The big shift here is in political perceptions of power. The important facts are that revolutionary, terror-sponsoring Iran — under U.S., EU, and UN sanctions — feels free to conduct this deployment, and Syria feels free to cooperate in it. Egypt’s interim rulers apparently saw no reason to block the Suez transit, in spite of the Egyptians’ very recent concern over Iranian-backed terrorists and insurgents operating on their territory. Saudi Arabia, for its part, considered it prudent to host the Iranian warships last week — in spite of the Saudis’ own conviction that Iran has been aiding rebel groups that threaten Saudi territory. 
The cooperation from the Arab nations should not be misread, however. The Arabs have no desire to see Iran in a position of regional hegemony. The threat of that prospect will raise the stakes for the governmental turmoil in the Arab world. The view is likely to gain momentum that Arabs need to organize as much to counter Iran as to address their own domestic issues. That factor — so inimical to the unforced development of political liberalism — was never going to be dismissible; the Iranian warship deployment makes it inevitable. 
In information-speak, Iran is “inside our OODA-loop” right now: acting faster than we have prepared to react. Complacent assumptions about inertia in the status quo will not be borne out. Iran’s proximate strategic objective is consolidating the rule of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Former prime minister Saad Hariri declared his opposition to the Hezbollah-backed government in a speech on Monday; Hassan Nasrallah is promising that Hezbollah fighters will occupy Galilee; Ehud Barak warned on Wednesday that Israel might have to enter Lebanon again to counter Hezbollah. With the battle lines being drawn, Iran’s posture is hardening: the Islamic revolutionary regime is “all in.”