Iranian warships transit Suez for Mediterranean

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 8:49 EDT
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CAIRO (AFP) – Two Iranian naval ships transited the Suez Canal on Tuesday for the first time since the Islamic revolution, bound for the Mediterranean on a purported training mission that Israel calls a provocation.

“The two ships entered the canal on Tuesday at around 5:45 am (0335 GMT),” a canal official said. Normally, transiting the strategic 163-kilometre (101-mile) waterway takes between 12 and 14 hours.

By noon, the patrol frigate Alvand and support ship Kharg had passed the city of Ismailiya, mid-way along the canal route, reportedly bound for Syria — a destination that necessarily involves passing Israel.

They were due out of the canal by sunset.

The 1,500-tonne Alvand is normally armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, while the larger 33,000-tonne Kharg has a crew of 250 and facilities for up to three helicopters, Iran’s official Fars news agency has said.

Both ships were built in Britain during the 1970s for Iran, which ordered them before the Islamic revolution.

Neither ship is carrying chemical or nuclear material, Egypt’s state-run MENA news agency has reported.

Their passage into the eastern Mediterranean — a week after the US aircraft carrier Enterprise transited the Suez Canal in the other direction — comes when popular uprisings in Arab nations are changing the political landscape of the Middle East and leaving Israelis worried about their security.

“We are talking about an unprecedented Iranian military presence in the Mediterranean, and that is a provocation to which the international community must react firmly,” foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the ships’ arrival in the region as an Iranian power play, after his foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman branded their presence “a provocation.”

“Today we are witnessing the instability of the region in which we live and in which Iran is trying to profit by extending its influence by dispatching two warships to cross the Suez Canal,” he said.

“Israel views with gravity this Iranian initiative and other developments that reinforce what we have said in past years about the Israel’s security needs,” he added, according to a statement from his office.

Animosity between Iran and Israel has grown under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who in October 2005 told a “world without Zionism” conference that the Jewish state would one day be “wiped off the map.”

The US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Enterprise transited the Suez Canal on February 15, accompanied by the guided missile cruiser Leyte Gulf and combat support ship Arctic. It entered the Gulf of Aden three days later.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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  • Anonymous

    interesting that they finally translate Ahmedinejad as saying the ‘state’ will be wiped off the map. im all for criticizing the guy, but we can’t demonize him unfairly unless we want him to do it to us. good on AFP.

  • TheDevilCanDance

    ” a purported training mission that Israel calls a provocation….”

    Israel, Why don`t you pick up a fight with the Iranians?. I suppose,butchering (with the latest military technology paid by US tax payers) a bunch of civilians trapped in an open air concentration camp, is turning into a bore.

    You Israeli hotshots need some real action, the Iranians will give you what you want, these suckers have been in the past,engaged in a continuous war with Iraq, for 8 years. Israel, you have a bad attitude and an anger management problem, nothing like a good “one on one” with the Iranians, they will help you,tamp your circuits down :)

  • NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

    Huge crowds of Egyptians cheering all along the Suez Canal

  • Jaimie11

    Yes, and I believe a statement he made about using the Holocaust as an excuse for Israeli bad behavior was also mistranslated into Holocaust denial.

  • Sandi

    “comes when popular uprisings in Arab nations are changing the political landscape of the Middle East and leaving Israelis worried about their security”.

    I get it, only Israel is allowed to be worried. Iran is not allowed to put ships in the water to defend themselves against this instability in the region. Israel reminds me of a spoiled child who must continually beat up her younger sibling because she’s not getting as much attention as she’s used to.

  • Sandi

    They still got it wrong. It translates to “the Zionist Regime will not last long in this world”. He has no problem with Jews. Iran has their share of Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Being Persian, they probably also have a scattering of Hindus and Buddhists.

  • Anonymous

    What we are led to believe is that a state that has nuclear weapons (some estimte over 200) is scared sh^^less by two ships using the Suez Canal and will therefore need more billions in US taxpayers aid to stay alive and secure.

    Given that Eric Cantor Rep. Whip made promises to Bibi that he”ll take care of him/Israel first and foremost. If he fails in not being able to keep his promise then we’ll all be called antisemitic.

  • Sandi

    This one wasn’t a mistranslation. I remember watching it unfold. Right after he accused the Zionists of using the Holocaust as an excuse for bad behavior he attended a conference in Europe. Also at that conference were two well-known holocaust deniers. Like the game of telephone, each article after that more closely related Ahmadinejad to those “holocaust deniers” until he became one, himself. It was amazingly frustrating to watch.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3NVQSZZC5IM66JEOCSFJUV7FCE Jacques G

    Dear Israel. Iranian ships did not abuse their open waters rights in blockading humanitarian vessels helping Gaza.

  • Anonymous

    When did that meeting come relative to meeting these guys:

    Yes Ahmadinejad is a politician, manipulating public opinion and utilizing fear to maintain his power. So does Netanyahu.

  • DriveBy

    Nowhere in the Bible does it say that “Only the US (and it’s friends) may sail Suez Canal”.

  • cannotvote

    Remember the USS Liberty.

  • Anonymous

    I thought it was generally acknowledged that “”wiped off the map” was a mis-translation. What’s up there Agence France-Presse?