Thus far, the maritime conflict between Iran and Israel has remained at a low-intensity gray-zone level below the threshold of declared hostilities, with both sides seeking to avoid escalation that might disrupt their respective shipping lanes and economies. Yet both countries have substantial special naval warfare capabilities and experience, so neither is likely to settle for anything less than maritime superiority. The pace of their attacks has already increased and can be expected to accelerate further, while also expanding to a larger geographical area and potentially employing additional systems and tactics (e.g., submarines; motherships used as staging posts; longer-range drones and fast-attack vessels). The Saviz incident in particular showed the risk of escalation. By aiming below the waterline, the attack was seemingly designed to cripple or even sink the ship. And despite the vessel’s technical classification as a civilian cargo ship, the attack represented the first operation against a de facto military target, which might compel Iran to retaliate in kind against Israeli naval forces. Moreover, the incident occurred less than a hundred miles from the passing USS Eisenhower carrier group, and afterward, Iran made unsubstantiated claims that other countries may have been involved, pointing to the risk of Washington being dragged into a fight. Ultimately, the extent of the damage to the Saviz might require substantial shoreside repairs and possible withdrawal to Iran. If so, Tehran may decide to maintain the station by deploying one of its new, more heavily armed floating sea bases such as the Shahid Roudaki (IRGC Navy) or Makran (Islamic Republic of Iran Navy, or IRIN). That would mean a substantial, formal Iranian military presence in the Red Sea—a scenario that Israel and other regional powers would find very hard to swallow.
Israel’s alleged attack on Natanz is reprehensible on any number of levels. Had it taken place one day earlier, it could have killed a large number of senior technicians, nuclear scientists and politicians who were at the site celebrating “National Nuclear Technology Day”. Even if Israel deliberately timed its attack to avoid such a scenario, the fact that Israel had the capacity to carry out such an attack is sobering. If any other nation in the world attacked a functioning uranium enrichment facility operating under IAEA safeguards, it would be rightly condemned, and harsh measures taken in retaliation. Israel, however, operates under the umbrella of diplomatic immunity provided by the US. As such, Israel is untouchable, no matter how egregious its actions – even when, as is the case here, they infringe on the diplomatic and national security imperatives and priorities of the US.
For years, Hezbollah has been actively involved in helping the IRGC-QF and its international network of merchants circumvent sanctions and ship oil products directly from Iran to Syria. Thus, Israel’s efforts to disrupt such shipments should come as no surprise—especially after mid-2018, when these deliveries became Tehran’s primary means of financing Hezbollah, and in some cases included arms as well.To be sure, Israel’s maritime efforts are not nearly as extensive as its aerial campaign in Syria, which has substantially diminished Iran’s ability to send Hezbollah weapons overland via Abu Kamal. The naval effort appears to be aimed at hindering, not crippling, Iranian oil shipments, perhaps due to the vulnerability of Israel’s own shipping lanes through the Arabian Sea. Still, its maritime actions have caused delays that deprive the Syrian regime of gasoline imports and prevent hard cash, weapons, and missile production equipment from reaching Hezbollah. More than anything else, these incidents underscore the growing financial interdependency between Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.
Two months after the Joe Biden administration took office, concerns are growing about the lack of progress between the United States and Iran. No breakthrough on the two sides returning to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has happened. Regional tensions are on the rise again. Rockets fired by Iran-backed militias are hitting on or near bases in Iraq that house American troops. The Houthi rebels in Yemen have launched repeated missile attacks against Saudi Arabia. An Israeli ship was the victim of an incident in the Persian Gulf and an oil slick has fouled Israeli beaches.
Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations says Tehran is not interested in escalation of tensions with the United States, and unlike Washington, the Islamic Republic has no interest in making provocative moves. Majid Takht-Ravanchi said the Islamic Republic of Iran has proved that it is not interested in escalation of tension, even during the tenure of the Trump administration that started the tension and provocative moves.
Iran has made threats against Fort McNair, an Army post in the U.S. capital, and against the Army’s vice chief of staff, two senior U.S. intelligence officials said. They said communications intercepted by the National Security Agency in January showed that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard discussed mounting “USS Cole-style attacks” against the Army post, referring to the October 2000 suicide attack in which a small boat pulled up alongside the Navy destroyer in the Yemeni port of Aden and exploded, killing 17 sailors.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar on March 9-11 took place against the backdrop of uncertainty among these states about their future relations with the new US administration, which is rethinking many of President Donald Trump's approaches to Middle East affairs. Amid this context, Moscow is seeking to remind the leading Arab monarchies of its readiness to fill the possible "void" that could arise if their ties with Washington stagnate, both in the security sphere and in the military-technical and military-political spheres.
Iran’s defense minister said on Tuesday that the country must be ready to defend itself against nuclear, biological and chemical attacks. “We should be prepared to defend our nation against all threats and whatever the enemy may one day use as an offensive tool, including chemical, nuclear and biological weapons,” said Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Hatami, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. Hatami said the “enemies of humanity” were prepared to use all means to achieve their military goals. Iran’s defense ministry “had adopted all the necessary measures against all threats,” he said.
2021-03-15Iran Unveils 'Missile City' Of The IRGC Navy, Showcases Various Anti-Ship Missiles, Drones, Naval Mines, And Equipment For Elect
RGC Commander-in-Chief General Hossein Salami spoke at a ceremony marking the unveiling of an IRGC Navy "Missile City," introducing the various weapons added to the IRGC navy arsenal. The unveiling was aired on Channel 1 (Iran) on March 15, 2021. He said that the IRGC has UAVs, land-based anti-ship missiles, anti-ship missiles, sea mines, and various types of naval systems for electronic warfare, intelligence, naval mine warfare, and weapons that cannot be unveiled.
Evidence suggests that Israel may have been behind a recent attack on an Iranian container ship in the Mediterranean Sea, the spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said, warning that Iran would consider resorting to “all options” to protect its interests. Speaking at a weekly press conference on Monday, Saeed Khatibzadeh said the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces is competent to give a detailed opinion about the attack on Iran’s ‘Shahr-e Kord’ container ship in the Mediterranean Sea, although the location of such an act of sabotage points the finger of blame at the Zionist regime.