Iranian Warships Sail Through Suez Canal
Israel called the passage of Iranian warships in the Suez Canal Tuesday, a “cheap provocation” and asked for a firm reaction from the international community.
The passage, planned before the uprising, was the first by Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979.
Analysts say the passage was an attempt by Iran to project its power in the region at a time when anti-government protests are sweeping the middle east.
Israel’s navy was on alert Tuesday. The Jewish nation considers Iran a serious threat.
The ships are the refueling and support vessel, KHARG and the light patrol frigate, ALVAND. The KHARG has a crew of 250 and three helicopters onboard, while the ALVAND is armed with anti-ship missiles and torpedoes.
Iranian officials say the ALVAND and KHARG are on their way to the Mediterranean Sea on a yearlong intelligence-gathering mission to prepare cadets to defend Iran’s cargo ships and oil tankers from the threat of attack by Somali pirates.
Travel through the passage came just four days after Egypt’s post-Hosni Mubarak government gave the ok. Egypt, despite its sovereignty over the canal, is bound by the 1888 Convention of Constantinople, whose first article states, “The Suez Maritime Canal shall always be free and open, in time of war as in time of peace, to every vessel of commerce or of war, without distinction of flag.”
NATO confirmed Wednesday that they are following the ships, that have now made their way to the Mediterranean. They noted that they follow all events in the region and will monitor these ships as they do any other warship in the region. The U.S. State Department said they are also carefully watching the movement of these vessels.
The Suez Canal is a vital waterway for international trade, connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. The canal allows ships to travel between Europe and Asia without the long voyage around Africa.