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WASHINGTON – Egypt once again has allowed Iranian warships to pass through the Suez Canal on their way to the Mediterranean Sea, a move which not only underscores Egypt’s intent to improve relations with Tehran but opens the door for the Islamic republic to send warships directly to Syria and Lebanon, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Over U.S. objections, the Egyptian navy allowed the warship to pass from the Red Sea into the Mediterranean. According to regional sources, the Iranian warship was carrying weapons to Syria.
“The Egyptian navy refused a U.S. request to strike an Iranian ship loaded with weapons that was on its way to Syria through the Suez Canal,” according to Suez Canal Authority chairman Mohab Mamish.
Mamish said that the Egyptian military also had objected to U.S. Navy ship deployment at the southern entrance of the canal in January 2011. This objection occurred during the waning days of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Mamish has underscored the Egyptian navy’s control over the canal.
From the time of the 1979 Iranian revolution, Egypt, under Mubarak, would not allow Iranian warships to pass through the Suez Canal.
Last February, two Iranian warships entered the Mediterranean on their way to the Syrian port of Tartous.
Since then, the United States and the European Union have approved sanctions to halt any ship or aircraft thought to be carrying weapons to Syria.
A Russian ship with arms destined for Syria recently was heading to Tartous but then diverted to another destination.
The question is whether the West will make an effort to halt the Iranian warships now or in the future.
A retired Saudi military official did not rule out the possibility that Israel in the future may initiate such an attack.
“An Israeli attack would come to show the Iranians that the Mediterranean is not an Iranian lake, a position shared by the European powers and the U.S.” the Saudi said.
“(The Israeli attack) would not be an overt military operation,” he said. “The docked ships could be mined, or they might go up in flames through a secret operation using Israeli frogmen.”
While observers believe that the Iranian ship’s presence is to show support for embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Iranians may not be eager for a confrontation that could lead to military action.
In response to any potential Israeli attack on Iranian warships in the Mediterranean, sources say that Iran may not retaliate immediately. They added that Iran’s military would be no match for Israel’s in a military standoff.
“Militarily, the Iranians are in the Stone Age,” one source said. “Think of how Saddam’s regime was dismantled,” referring to U.S. action against Iraq that brought about the ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
“Yes, they (the Iranians) have missiles and boat power to retaliate, but if damage assessment is measurable and retrievable,” the source added, “then taking out the Iranian nuclear installations would be feasible.”
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