The supply ship Kharg and Shaid Qandi, a destroyer, dock in the harbor of Jeddah. J.E.Dyer has more.
Iranian warships make second port call in Saudi Arabia
An Iranian destroyer and supply ship docked in the Red Sea port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Saturday, marking the second such deployment of an Iranian naval task force in a year.
In early February 2011, the first such task force made a stop in Jeddah on the way to an equally unprecedented visit to the Mediterranean. While in the Med – as anti-regime fervor caught fire in the Arab nations – the Iranian warships visited Latakia, Syria. According to disclosures from a Syrian who recently fled his post with the defense ministry, the Iranian warships in 2011 delivered arms to the Assad regime.
There is no public information on whether the current task force will go north through the Suez Canal. In 2011, Iran announced the Suez passage of the first task force before the ships arrived in Port Suez on the Red Sea.
It is interesting to note that the Iranian warships have arrived in Jeddah just as the Russian carrier task force has departed the Med. The RFS Admiral Kuznetsov and escorts entered the Atlantic, reportedly for the return transit to their homeports, on 3 February. Kuznetsov visited Syria several times in December and January. If the Iranian warships are headed for Syria – and that is not established yet – it is a good question whether any other navy in the Med would attempt to intercept them. The navies of France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Israel have the capability to; the question is whether they would. A Russian arms carrier was allowed to deliver weapons to Syria last month.
The region is shifting away from the condition of relative stability it inhabited as little as two years ago. Some things mean more now than they once would have, and some mean less. It went over most Americans’ heads, for example, that the homicidal soccer melee in Egypt on Wednesday occurred in Port Said, the entry point to the Suez Canal on the Mediterranean side. Additional follow-on violence has been seen in Port Suez, the southern access point on the Red Sea side of the canal. A crowd of at least 3,000 besieged the governorate security-force headquarters there on Friday, and had to be fought back by security personnel, with two protesters being killed.
More here at Dyer’s blog.