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WASHINGTON – The two Iranian warships that passed through the Suez Canal over the weekend and sailed into the Mediterranean Sea to dock at the Syrian naval port of Tartous are being used as a show of strength and a warning of a presence to come, informed sources said in a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
It is the second time Iranian warships have entered the Mediterranean this year. Their presence comes at a critical time as Israel weighs whether to launch military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The Iranian ships that just entered into the Mediterranean were from the Iranian Navy’s 18th fleet, informed sources tell G2Bulletin. The Iranian navy’s 18th fleet is comprised of the Khark warship, which can carry three helicopters, with its crew of 250 sailors and the Shahid Naqdi destroyer.
While ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was in power, he never allowed Iranian ships to transit the Suez Canal since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The presence of the Iranian warships is designed to show support for the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Their presence also is a show of power to protect their exports to Syria and ensure delivery of war commodities, which also may be routed to the Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, in Lebanon.
Iran wants to ensure the survival of the al-Assad regime, since it permits Iranians to continue expanding their influence in the Middle East in opposition to the desires of the neighboring Sunni Arab countries.
In docking at Tartous in Syria, the Iranian warships also were at a port where the Russians recently have expanded facilities to accommodate their warships under an agreement with the al-Assad regime.
Informed sources say that the presence of the Iranian warships also is to give symbolic protection to Lebanon’s announced rights to offshore maritime resources which are a matter of dispute with Israel.
Turkey similarly has sent into the eastern Mediterranean its warships not only to protect Lebanon’s maritime offshore mineral access but also its own to offshore oil drilling rights off Cyprus. Israel recently signed with Cyprus agreements to drill off of the island, which has become a matter of further tension between Turkey and Israel.
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