Great: Iranian warships call in Jeddah

posted at 11:30 am on February 12, 2011 by J.E. Dyer

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 The Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions” and as The Optimistic Conservative.  She writes a weekly column for Patheos.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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Comments

Shut down the Suez? It’s hard to imagine that happening today. But it appears that anything is possible in the Muslim world.

jeanie on February 12, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Obama has declared one priority:

What Obama says is one thing, what he does is something else.

If Obama were incompetent then the laws of probability make it clear that just by accident Obama would do something good the the United States. Instead, *everything* Obama has done has been bad for the US, EVERYTHING.

Skandia Recluse on February 12, 2011 at 11:55 AM

But what about Michelle’s upcoming vacation?!

HER UPCOMING VACATION ?!?

BowHuntingTexas on February 12, 2011 at 11:55 AM

But what about Michelle’s upcoming vacation?!

HER UPCOMING VACATION ?!?

BowHuntingTexas on February 12, 2011 at 11:55 AM

You mean the one that no one gives a flying flaming rat’s patootie in space about?

pilamaye on February 12, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Obama has declared one priority:

Make whatever it is ALL ABOUT HIM!!!

pilamaye on February 12, 2011 at 12:00 PM

SOMEONE CALL AQUAMAN!!11!

abobo on February 12, 2011 at 12:01 PM

This is Hopey/Changeys Outstanding Stellar Foreign Policy
on Parade,

while Obama is busy,FreeLancing his Lilly Pads,
the Jihadys have been Plotting and Planninng!!!

Obama is on the verge of Loosing the Middle East!!

canopfor on February 12, 2011 at 12:07 PM

Why is Egypt soooooooooooooooooooooooooo important,
and why,are the surrounding,”Satelite Countries” of
that region sooooooooooooooooooooooo importatnt!!

LOOK AT THE PICTURE….ON SHIPPING LANES,

(THE CIRCLES)!!!!!!!!!!

AMERICA/THE WEST is about tio be STRANGLED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
***********************************************************

http://westforwestwing2012.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/oil_chokepoints1.jpg

canopfor on February 12, 2011 at 12:11 PM

You mean the one that no one gives a flying flaming rat’s patootie in space about?

pilamaye on February 12, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Their are a lot more people familiar with what Michelle’s doing (and Oafra and the Kardashians) than know about what’s going on in the middle east.

BowHuntingTexas on February 12, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Iran is indeed moving up in the world.

I remember the days when the only ‘Iranian warships’ that could move under their own power were Zodiacs, armed with guys with RPGs.

(As opposed to their Patrol boats which were Zodiacs armed with a couple of guys with AKs.)

LegendHasIt on February 12, 2011 at 12:26 PM

The Saudis wouldn’t have accepted this visit if they didn’t perceive their US-backed position as vulnerable and exposed.

Yep. I can’t find the link but I read somewhere that when the king of SA called Scooter and threatened to handle the foreign aid to Egypt himself, he also told him SA would be sending a delegation to Tehran to reengage in diplomatic relationships. They know where the strong horse lives. They know where the weak horse lives.

a capella on February 12, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Obama has declared one priority: that Egypt be able to decide her own political future, without outside interference.

Except when Obama said Mubarak should step down. I mean stay. *face palm* I mean resign and have a peaceful transition. Surely the “secular” Muslim Brotherhood will make up for the democratic slack.

conservative pilgrim on February 12, 2011 at 12:29 PM

So, when do the frogmen get to do their thing?

OldEnglish on February 12, 2011 at 12:31 PM

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.

Well it’s time for those robed up, dolled-up fatsos with money to spare to grow some balls and do the dirty work that they will not do for their own country.

It’s time for Saudi Arabia to not cower like our dear leader. Sucks that I have no clue where our Navy and Marines’ war ships/subs/aircraft carriers/etc. etc. are right now. We used to have a notion of our US military moves, now I feel like I am flying blind.

Is that just me, or does anybody share my sentiments?

ProudPalinFan on February 12, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Yep. I can’t find the link but I read somewhere that when the king of SA called Scooter and threatened to handle the foreign aid to Egypt himself, he also told him SA would be sending a delegation to Tehran to reengage in diplomatic relationships. They know where the strong horse lives. They know where the weak horse lives.

a capella on February 12, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Here?

conservative pilgrim on February 12, 2011 at 12:35 PM

canopfor on February 12, 2011 at 12:11 PM

You make it sound as though the ME nations can do without those shipping lanes. Just who do you suppose would suffer the most if your fears were to materialize?

MJBrutus on February 12, 2011 at 12:37 PM

The other high priority is the continued observation of the peace accord between Egypt and Israel, including demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula.

As far as I know, the Egyptian military will not change any accords between Egypt and Israel. But yeah, I have written over and over (or while I watched TV) that Egypt must secure their borders and keep the Suez Canal open.

Any experts here on how Egypt’s defenses are when it comes to their naval forces? ‘Cause I want to believe that by now the Saudis built at least are making by now a bunch of paper planes/sarc

ProudPalinFan on February 12, 2011 at 12:39 PM

Can’t leave this job to Chuck Norris; he’s in the tank for Huckabee.

ProudPalinFan on February 12, 2011 at 12:40 PM

You mean the one that no one gives a flying flaming rat’s patootie in space about?

pilamaye on February 12, 2011 at 11:59 AM
Their are a lot more people familiar with what Michelle’s doing (and Oafra and the Kardashians) than know about what’s going on in the middle east.

BowHuntingTexas on February 12, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Sad, but unfortunately very very true.

pilamaye on February 12, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Does ANYONE doubt that the most merciful American leader would look kindly upon the aspirations of Islam if the duly decide to form a Caliphate?

>>>>>>>crickets chirping<<<<<<<

I didn't think so.

PappyD61 on February 12, 2011 at 1:08 PM

The Saudis wouldn’t have accepted this visit if they didn’t perceive their US-backed position as vulnerable and exposed.

Yep. I can’t find the link but I read somewhere that when the king of SA called Scooter and threatened to handle the foreign aid to Egypt himself, he also told him SA would be sending a delegation to Tehran to reengage in diplomatic relationships. They know where the strong horse lives. They know where the weak horse lives.

a capella on February 12, 2011 at 12:28 PM

The relations between Iran and the Saudis reached a low point over Yemen. There has been an effort by both sides since then to diffuse tensions and the visit is a part of this after high level and high profile meetings starting last year. A visit like that would have been organized long before things kicked off in Egypt.

lexhamfox on February 12, 2011 at 1:09 PM

I love trying to get the “strong” option to work on the teeny iPhone keypad.

PappyD61 on February 12, 2011 at 1:09 PM

You mean the one that no one gives a flying flaming rat’s patootie in space about?

pilamaye on February 12, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Don’t make her unleash another one of her boob belts.

Key West Reader on February 12, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Just who do you suppose would suffer the most if your fears were to materialize?

MJBrutus on February 12, 2011 at 12:37 PM

Why, the Obama voters of course.

Key West Reader on February 12, 2011 at 1:17 PM

A visit like that would have been organized long before things kicked off in Egypt.

lexhamfox on February 12, 2011 at 1:09 PM

The strong horse analogy remains valid. bin Laden was right.

a capella on February 12, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Obama has declared one priority: that Egypt be able to decide her own political future, without outside interference.

And how does The One think he’ll accomplish that? Sternly worded memos?

GarandFan on February 12, 2011 at 1:26 PM

canopfor on February 12, 2011 at 12:11 PM
========================
You make it sound as though the ME nations can do without those shipping lanes. Just who do you suppose would suffer the most if your fears were to materialize?

MJBrutus on February 12, 2011 at 12:37 PM

MJBrutus:If Iran Goons have their way,and,at the rate things
are going,those “Choke Points”will be armed with
Anti-Ship Missiles,its the bigger picture!

canopfor on February 12, 2011 at 2:07 PM

I love trying to get the “strong” option to work on the teeny iPhone keypad.

PappyD61 on February 12, 2011 at 1:09 PM

PappyD61:Love your posts…keep’em up:)

canopfor on February 12, 2011 at 2:09 PM

“supply ship Kharg…..”

uhhh…so now they’re klingons?

warhorse_03826 on February 12, 2011 at 3:43 PM

whoa… Didn’t the Sauds just beg us to bomb Iran?

Army Brat on February 12, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Barack Hussein Weak Horse Obama.

profitsbeard on February 12, 2011 at 7:45 PM

The only reports seem to all be sourced out of Tehran.

FYIm Kharg Island is a very important shipping point for oil into supertankers for Iran.

Kermit on February 13, 2011 at 12:54 AM