Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | February 11, 2011

Great: Iranian Warships Call in Jeddah

Warships of the Islamic Revolutionary Iranian Navy have never visited a Saudi port until this week. Jeddah is on the Red Sea, where Iranian warships have occasionally ventured since they were first dispatched in late 2008 for anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden. Regional reporting has indicated that Iranian patrol ships have made port calls in the Red Sea port of Assab, Eritrea (where other unconfirmed reports have it that Iran has deployed missiles – of unknown type – and a contingent of troops).

But until now, there has been no port call in Saudi Arabia and no hint of one.  Indeed, Saudi reporting from November 2009 registered grave concern over Iranian activities in the Red Sea.

The two-ship Iranian task force, consisting of two British-built vessels, Vosper Mark V-class frigate Alvand and supply ship Kharg, left Iran on 26 January, according to Iranian news sources. The next day, a senior naval officer announced that the task force, deployed as the 12th Naval Group, “would enter the Red Sea and the Mediterranean waters.”  The prospect of a Mediterranean deployment is as unprecedented as the Saudi port visit. There is no guarantee it will actually happen, but the timing is interesting.

While the Mubarak regime was in power, there was little possibility of Egypt permitting an Iranian naval task force to transit the Suez Canal.  I’m not convinced any Egyptian authority will agree to such a transit before the country’s political future is sorted out – I certainly don’t think the Iranians know their warships are approaching a Canal that will be opened to them by a specific, expected change in political conditions.  But what I do perceive is a bold move by Iran.

The current regime engages in a lot of bluster, but putting warships in the Red Sea port of America’s long-time partner Saudi Arabia is genuine action. For no navy on earth – not even ours – is a naval deployment undertaken easily or lightly. This is a big deal for them.  It’s also a big deal for Saudi Arabia.  The Saudis have been alarmed about revolutionary Iran’s activities for a long time; the chill between the two nations has meant precisely that things like naval port visits don’t happen.  The Saudis wouldn’t have accepted this visit if they didn’t perceive their US-backed position as vulnerable and exposed.

I believe it’s the right thing for Mubarak to go. The Egyptian people have legitimate grievances and a genuine desire for better government.  But regional relationships have already started to shift; the unprecedented port visit is uniquely clear evidence of that. Hezbollah, Iran’s client, triumphed in Lebanon in January; the Egyptian unrest has seen the emergence of Hezbollah and Hamas operatives from detention in Egypt and an increase in violence at the border with Gaza.  It’s not just that the Saudis are running scared.  Iran sees opportunity.

In the absence of US leadership, the only way the other regional actors can deal with Iran is through appeasement and the forming of counter-coalitions.  We are already seeing the beginnings of those patterns.  Turkey is vying for regional leadership; Egypt may do so as well, depending on the outcome of the popular revolt.  Russia and China are in the mix already, but we can expect their roles in cultivating and backing clients to become more prominent.  We can sit passively and watch the others sort out their priorities and their new BFFs, or we can declare our priorities and act like a leader.

Obama has declared one priority:  that Egypt be able to decide her own political future, without outside interference.  That’s a good priority, but it is meaningless without specific corollaries.  One should be that the US will cooperate with Egypt and other nations in the region to interdict jihadists who plan to descend on Egypt, wherever they come from – and we will continue our cooperation with regional governments to prevent terror in their nations as well; namely, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and others.  Another priority should be that the Suez Canal remain secure and open to traffic.  We will partner with Egypt to ensure that; we will not leave it to anyone else.  The other high priority is the continued observation of the peace accord between Egypt and Israel, including demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula.

All things are no longer equal; we cannot trust this situation to inertia and silence.

J.E. Dyer blogs at Hot Air’s Green Room and Commentary’s “contentions.”  She writes a weekly column for Patheos.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by soccerdhg and JT, J.E. Dyer. J.E. Dyer said: Great: Iranian Warships Call in Jeddah: http://t.co/O0otPC6 My latest at TOC on emerging regional shifts in MidEast… [...]

  2. Muberak was a dependable ally of the US and Israel, and dumping him was a disaster which will only encourage our Islamic enemies. They will see it as yet another sign that there has been a fundamental change in our Middle East policy.
    It should not be our concern whether the Egyptians have democracy (many would argue that democracy and Islam are incompatible, anyway). Perhaps Muberak was a corrupt torturer and worse. If he was, that isn’t our problem. Perhaps countries like Egypt have leaders like Muberak because countries like Egypt deserve people like Muberak, and their social and moral level is such that they are only governable by people like Muberak.
    The worst thing of all is that by abandoning Muberak we will be seen as (yet again) abandoning our committment to the security and integrity of Israel. Israeli security, rather than so-called freedom for the Egyptians, should be the priority of US policy. It is inevitable that whatever government replaces Muberak is less likely to assist Israel in enforcing the blockade of the terror mini-state in Gaza. Having supported the anti-Muberak rioters and agitators in Egypt, how long will it be before the Arabs in Judea and Samaria take encouragement from this US support and take to the streets in the hope that this muddled US government will support them in making demands for so-called democratic rights which will undermine the existence of Israel as a Jewish state? No one in this weak and anti-Israel administration seems bothered about the consequences to Israel of their support for so-called democracy in countries which are incapable of comprehending the concept, and where public opinion will inevitably produce governments which reflect public hostility to Israel.
    The Egyptians need to be sent a clear message that if they intend abandoning their solemn agreement to assist Israel in containing the Gaza terror-state, they will have to do without US financial assistance, and they can go starve in the dark as far as we are concerned. Come to think of it, we need to have some stern words with the Turks too. We should tell them that if they don’t stop the upcoming terror-aid flotilla to Gaza we will treat them as a hostile power. Unlike our stalwart and dependable ally, Israel, Turkey is dispensible and expendable.
    We are currently celebrating the centenary of the “Gipper”. Could anyone see the late great President Reagan selling out on our allies like this weak and vacillating president? (And, good for you in pointing out how Obama betrayed our British ally during recent attempts to negotiate our unilateral disarmament)

    • Welcome, braham — my apologies for the delay in your comment. There is a one-time “approval” process to keep down the spam. Your comments will appear automatically from now on. I hope you’ll be back to keep the discussion lively.

    • The US didn’t “dump” Mubarak. There was enough popular support, probably including the police and military, for his ouster that increasing repression was seen as a losing strategy by the potential survivors. The only US influence in the situation would have been a negative one. The new players are jockeying for position now, with, as usual, the military in the best spot. The much heralded Muslim Brotherhood, a banned secret society in Egypt, is in particular danger. While they may have infiltrated the military to some degree, the establishment general staff will take this opportunity to purge the ranks of those suspected of radical leanings. Their success in this will be the determining factor in Egypt’s future. This is hardly a unique event in world history. Did anyone think the Mubarak dynasty would last as long as that of the Pharaohs?

    • 1) As been stated by martel, we didn’t dump Mubarak. Nor is it our choice to make as to whether he stayed or went.
      That said, it was well past time that he was driven out and happily he’s gone before he could install his son as his heir.

      “Perhaps countries like Egypt have leaders like Muberak because countries like Egypt deserve people like Muberak, and their social and moral level is such that they are only governable by people like Muberak.”

      sort of shows the type of person that you must be and perhaps you deserve to be governed by racist Moldovans such as Lieberman. Perhaps you ought to be forcibly transferred to Moldova.

      2) The United States primary concern is the security of the United States, not that of any of our allies and not that of Israel.

      3) Our commitment to the integrity of Israel encompasses no more than Israel itself and most definitely does not extend to the territory that Israel is occupying and, at this point, mindlessly colonizing.

  3. As regards US foreign policy, inertia, silence and clueless ineffectiveness appear to be SOP. Why would that change, until it’s too late?

    Back to neo-neocon’s rhetorical question; Obama is he fool or knave? Of course, those classifications are not mutually exclusive. I suspect a bit more of the knave, with a very large dose of fool, thrown in for good measure.

    All throughout the region the winds of change are stirring, and distantly, we hear the ‘rough beast’ as it slouches toward Jerusalem to be born…

    Jordan stirs, with the previous taboo of criticizing the Queen now emphatically broken.

    Pakistan the largest US recipient of US aid (more appeasement) has since 2006, “increased the size of its nuclear arsenal from 30-60 atomic bombs to approximately 110 and has developed nuclear-capable land- and air-launched cruise missiles. Its Shaheen II missile, with a range of 2,400 kilometers, is about to go into operational deployment.

    On Wednesday, Pakistan test-fired its new Hatf- VII nuclear-capable cruise missile with a 600-kilometer range.”

    With the possible exception of the Gulf sheikdoms, every significant Muslim country teeters on the brink of going Islamist. What basis for assuming that they won’t all fall into Iran’s radicalism?

    If the problem is Islam, how can they not?

    Radical Islam is on the march and its foremost proponent is arguably Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, with franchises throughout the Middle East and in many Western countries, including the United States, whose charter describes its goal as the re-establishment of the Islamic Caliphate – an empire stretching from Spain to Indonesia.

    Although it claims to be non-violent, its charter describes “dying in the way of Allah” (jihad) as the group’s highest hope. Its most infamous alumnus is undoubtedly Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the number two leader of Al Qaida.

    Hamas is the Brotherhood’s de facto Palestinian branch. The Hamas Charter is virulently anti-Semitic and utterly uncompromising in its goal of riding Palestine of the Jews. That hate runs through the brotherhood as was recently illustrated by
    Mohamed Ghanem, one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, who recently called for Egypt to stop pumping gas to Israel and prepare the Egyptian army for a war with it’s eastern neighbor.

    Speaking with Iranian television station Al-Alam, Mohamed Ghanem blamed Israel for supporting Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Ghanem also said that the Egyptian police and army won’t be able to stop the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

    An Iranian led, Islamic alliance, a nuclear armed Caliphate is, increasingly, the most likely outcome of the geo-political trends coming to fruition in the M.E.

    As always, The Wages of Appeasement are ever the same.

    • GB — sorry your comment went to the spam queue. Artifact of the system settings: if there are two or more links, a comment spams out.

      Hamas is the specimen we need to be examining. If the MB get hold of Egypt, the Hamas signature on Gaza is what we can look for.

    • With the possible exception of the Gulf sheikdoms, every significant Muslim country teeters on the brink of going Islamist. What basis for assuming that they won’t all fall into Iran’s radicalism?

      Geoffrey, old quiverer, Egypt isn’t teetering and it certainly is not a friend to Iran.

      • fuster, What do you mean that Egypt isn’t teetering? That the Islamists won’t get a hold there?

        • RE, right now, the army not only holds power but holds it securely.

          this may be but a lull before things get hot hot again, but unless and until radicals can dream up a way to get the army to start mowing down innocents, it looks like the result in Egypt is reform, not revolution.

          as to Islamists getting a hold? they’ve had a hold for decades and likely will increase their seats in Parliament.

          if you mean that other type of Islamist, the ones that go around killing people that refuse to conform to outlandish and reactionary interpretations of Islam….. naw, those guys aren’t nearly as much in Egypt as they are in Iraq or Lebanon.

          of interest to myself (and I assume others here) is how strongly Egypt will be opposing Iran and Hamas and Iran’s efforts to ship weapons overland through northern Africa.
          Egyptians don’t like Iran and really don’t like hearing Iran attempt to tell the world that the Iranian brand of Islam is No 1 (with a bullet).

          gonna have to see what happens at the Rafah crossing, which has been clamped tight in recent days.

  4. [...] the timeline to the Caliphate is shortened. Already ominous developments are beginning. And the news is only getting worse The two-ship Iranian task force, consisting of two British-built vessels, Vosper Mark V-class [...]

  5. [...] [...]

  6. [...] timeline to the Caliphate is shortened. Already ominous developments are beginning. And the news is only getting worse The two-ship Iranian task force, consisting of two British-built vessels, Vosper Mark V-class [...]

  7. [...] the timeline to the Caliphate is shortened. Already ominous developments are beginning. And the news is only getting worse The two-ship Iranian task force, consisting of two British-built vessels, Vosper Mark V-class [...]

  8. [...] the timeline to the Caliphate is shortened. Already ominous developments are beginning. And the news is only getting worse The two-ship Iranian task force, consisting of two British-built vessels, Vosper Mark V-class [...]

  9. In a country where State Television aired a treatise on the Protocols, not so many years ago, where they aired a miniseries on the Ikwan just last fall, where the new
    head honcho, espouses these beliefs;http://blogs.wsj.com/dispatch/2011/02/11/wikileaks-cables-egypt-military-under-tantawi-has-seen-decline/ I wouln’t be so sanguine.

    • They don’t at all like the Iranians, miggs, and the Iranians want to take from them something that they jealously guard.
      They’ll throw in with the Israelis against the Iranians as likely as the other way ’round.
      Egypt’s trading partners are the US, China, the EU, and the Saudis, not Iran.

      There’s no traction.

  10. Fuster, you are completely naive. There may be no love lost between the current Egyptian military/political establishment and the Shia regime in Iran, but this establishment is on the way out. Public opinion in Egypt (and the rest of the Arab world) is a very different thing. There is overwhelming support among the mainly uneducated masses for Hamas and admiration for the Iranians whom they applaud for their aggressive stance towards Israel (In contrast to what they see as the humiliating stance of Muberak). It is a common misunderstanding in the West that just because the Iranians are Sunni, the mainly Shia Arabs hate and fear the Iranians. Not at street level. There may be little public support for actual war with Israel, but any popularly elected Egyptian government will reflect opposition to assisting in the Gaza quarantine.
    This is a vital issue for Israel. It is not just the trafficking of arms into Gaza that is at issue. It is essential that, so long as Hamas is in power (And remember it was elected democratically – a chilling lesson that wasn’t learned) the infrastructure and economy of Gaza are not rehabilitated, and that the efforts of UN and gullible Western liberals to rebuild Gaza are defeated. The Arabs must learn the lesson that opposing the US and Israel has a heavy price. The Middle East isn’t a nice place and the Arabs don’t understand either democracy or our liberal values, and it is no use pretending otherwise.

    • You are completely wrong. Public opinion in Egypt is strongly anti-Iranian. See that oft-quoted Pew survey

      “The Arabs must learn the lesson that opposing the US and Israel has a heavy price.”

      The Arabs have been taught that lesson quite often.

      I think that it’s time that the settlers learn that opposing the US carries a heavy price tag. No more subsidies, no more special exemptions, special units, specially-funded segregated schools.
      Let all the illegal buildings be razed and all the possessions inside be destroyed. If any of the settlers stand in front of the bulldozers, let the drivers pretend not to see them. If any any the settlers protest, it’s batons and rubber-coated bullets. If they keep it up, it’s the odd teargas canister shot into the sternum.

      The settlers have to be taught. Don’t be naive, they’re animals and that’s the only type of treatment that they understand or deserve.

      Have a nice day.

      • I wonder how you conduct a survey among a largely illiterate ppopulation in a police state where the people polled would have as their primary consideration not saying anything which might contradict the popular myths propagated by the regime.

        Incidentally, on re-reading I noticed a mistake in my posting: Of course, the Iranians are Shia, most of the Arabs are Sunni. Anyhow, they all hate us, and I cannot see any advantage to the US and Israel in promoting political change which will see that hatred more able to express itself. And there won’t be any gratitude either from the Arabs towards the liberal suckers in the Obamocracy who shafted Muberak. The Arabs only repay anything we’ve ever done for them with hatred towards the US and Israel.

        Having been betrayed by Turkey, and with Egypt likely to follow, it is easy to see Saudi thinking when they facilitated this very public naval display by the Iranians. They know which way the winds are blowing in the region since Obama came to power. Their population will always back the Iranians when it comes to the subject of Israel rather than the official position of their own regime which it sees as a betrayal of their fellow Moslems (even if the Iranians are heritics). The Arab in the street WANTS the Iranians to have a nuclear bomb because they know that Israel fears a nuclear Iran!

        Let’s do a tally. During the weak Carter administration the Iranians overthrew the Shah (Who, whatever his repuation on human rights, supported US and Israeli interests) and after a so-called election installed a US hating Atollahs. Under the weak Obama administration the Turks are now actively working to undermine the Israeli quarantine on Hamas run Gaza. Turkey was a reliable ally when it was run by the military. Democracy for the unready is again at the root of the problem. God help us if the Saudis ever have elections. The US needs to take the gloves off with these people – not helping to undermine its own interests and Israeli security.

        (I wryly noticed that the US is now giving Fulbright scolarships to students from Gaza. What are we thinking? Terrorists are bad enough. Educating a Hamas leadership, and giving their future leaders contacts with future US elites is so crazy. When Israel tries to stop them travelling, or taking steps to defend itself against this threat, the gullible liberals predictably screech in the liberal media against the Israelis – rather than quastion why we are paying to educate future jihadists)

        • you give people reason to hate you with the foolishness and ignorance and bile spilling out of you and onto the page.

          I’m grateful that you’re not an American.

    • They already know that. The goal of Arab leaders, like all politicians, is personal aggrandizement, ideology is the vehicle. The US bribed the Mubarak regime with billions in foreign aid to keep them off the Israeli’s back. Hosni skimmed the cream off of that, making his family and retainers fabulously wealthy at the expense of American taxpayers. Staying in power meant NOT allowing the country to be humiliated by a superior Israeli military while maintaining a properly bellicose Arab rhetoric. Other Arab leaders have seen this and adopted a similar tactic. There will never be peace in the middle east as long as foreign dollars flow into Arab capitals to reward the likes of Fatah, Hamas and Hezbollah for holding the leash on their own threat to seriously inconvenience Israel. Whoever assumes power in Egypt will carry on in a similar vein, perpetuating the Protocols of the Elders of Zion while sending briefcases of money to Switzerland.

      • ‘…will never be peace in the middle east as long as foreign dollars flow into Arab capitals to reward the likes of Fatah, Hamas and Hezbollah for holding the leash on their own threat to seriously inconvenience Israel.’

        Fatah is at peace with Israel even as Israel snatches the land.

        Hamas and Hezbollah aren’t getting money not to attack, are they?

        What money they get from outside sources (Iran) comes from people who wish them to provide the occasional attack.

  11. [...] U.S. policy, it’s probable. Last week, the Saudis accepted a remarkably timed and unprecedented port visit by Iranian warships in the Red Sea, a move that followed the earlier — equally unprecedented — visit of [...]

  12. Very interesting observation, I was…firstly thank you for your past & continued service to our nation it is recognized and greatly appreciated here…my Father is a Korean War Vet Air Force and my brother is a non-active squid, NCO, served Gitmo among other places! Naval intelligence officer…hmmm I was just researching JANE 2 weeks ago to see the Naval strength of Iran. One thing we have to remember…History…Iran former great Persian Empire that brought the world to her knees not many years ago! I especially was interested in Her submarine strength! Why? Well some background, I am a believer that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh for me. Christian, and a vehement lover of Israel. Sometimes I think I love Israel more than my own Country! I know scary! But this great love for Haaretz and her people was in me even as a child! Now I read my Old Testament and I see every time Israel had a quarrel with other nations, when they were in the right and wrong, they would call for special intelligence agent aka prophet! And they would seek God for direction, because Ps. 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. Ps. 89 :18 For the LORD is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king. Here are some instances of S.I.O.’s helping Kings and the military,Judges 4:4, 2Kings 6:11,12, 2Chron.18:6, 2Chron. 20:1-29 and on and on and on. What about today? Israel during the 6 Day war used the book of Joshua for tank routes and mimicked the routes the children of Israel took during the conquest of Cainan! Are there any legitimate Prophets left today? Are we so capable we don’t need Adonai or His help? Is everything we have from ourselves? We are entering into some of our most perilous times USA/Israel (2010-2020) and we are inexorably linked! Like it or not! I will leave a link from a true blue Prophet whom I have scrutinized for over 20 years now! He foretold 911 5 years before hand! The link concerns Iran and her navy and what she is about to do. Psa 121:1-8 A Song of degrees. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
    My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
    He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
    Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
    The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
    The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
    The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
    The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. Thank You Adonai and Thank You for your ear! http://bit.ly/KimIran Asirat Toda Achot Keep up the good work! :~)

  13. [...] Wall Street Journal reports that investors pulled back Wednesday following the news that the Iranian warship flotilla was transiting the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean. (For those keeping score, the transit means [...]

  14. [...] US, Russia launch nuclear arms reduction pact US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched a landmark nuclear arms reduction pact with Russia on Saturday, a showpiece of Washington’s “reset” of ties with its former Cold War enemy. Read more on AFP via Yahoo! Singapore News On the same subject: http://sumnonrabidus.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/if-this-be-hypergraphia-or-is-it-just-%E2%80%9Chyper%E2%80%9D-make-the-most-of-it/ On the same topic: http://theoptimisticconservative.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/great-iranian-warships-call-in-jeddah/ [...]

  15. Earthquake in Suez Canal day of Iranian ship passage, reports it lasted 29 minutes…interesting!! 2011 transition 11 means transition movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change I add great change…not always pretty!!

  16. [...] And if Egypt falls to the Brotherhood, then the timeline to the Caliphate is shortened. Already ominous developments are beginning. And the news is only getting worse [...]


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