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Iran: Pirates And Secret Wars

By: Meir Javedanfar


The recent hijacking of ships by pirates in the Red Sea is raising alarm in Iran, for two reasons:

  1. The pirates have hijacked Iranian ships. This has had an economic and security impact for Iran. So much so, that Tehran has threatened to use force to free its crew and ships.
  2. Tehran sees the hand of foreign powers, especially Israel, behind the hijackings.

We in the West may dismiss such thought as yet another conspiracy theory, but the Iranians are not. In this morning’s edition of Sobhe Sadegh, which belongs to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC), an editorial is dedicated to Israel’s influence in the horn of Africa and how Israel is using this to its advantage. Special emphasis is placed on Israel’s relations with rebels in Somaliland, and reports that the Israeli navy has a presence in some of the Eritrean owned islands in the Bab Al Mandeb strait. The islands in question are the Dahlak and Hunaish islands, and claims that Israel and Eritrea have cooperated militarily in these islands were also made by the Yemeni government and the Saudis.

What strengthened such beliefs was the Karine A affair, in which a Palestinian Authority ship, laden with weapons was captured in the Red Sea in 2002. The fact that the Israeli navy captured the ship 300 miles south of Eilat, and that it had been able to track its docking in Yemen, strengthened these suspicions.

The fact that the pirates of the hijacked Iranian ship, suddenly died of mysterious circumstances afterwards, created more panic. Especially since there were reports which were not confirmed nor denied by the US government, that Washington had offered the pirates $US 7 million just to inspect the vessel.

What the report in Sobhe Sadegh indicates is that Iran is becoming convinced that a silent war is being waged against its interests, at home and abroad. Last week, there was yet another report about the death of an individual working for Iran’s nuclear program. This time a Russian nuclear scientist had frozen to death, during a trip to mountains of Tehran. Previous cases included accidental death by suffocation caused by gas leakage.

Tehran‘s concerns are understandable. Overt wars can be condemned in the UN and can cause damage to America and Israel. But covert wars are more difficult to fight, because unlike Iraq and Lebanon, in this case, Iran is at a disadvantage. That is not to say that Tehran won’t try in the future.

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Posted on : Dec 14 2008
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Posted under Iran-Foreign Policy, Israel Foreign Policy |

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