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The top Iranian naval commander is vowing to send the country’s warships into the Atlantic Ocean and, specifically, the Gulf of Mexico. The Iranian navy is no match for the U.S., but Iran’s move into the Western Hemisphere poses a major asymmetrical threat to the country.
“Like the arrogant powers that are present near our marine borders, we will also have a powerful presence close to American marine borders,” the Iranian state media quoted Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari as saying.
He rejected the possibility of a direct hotline between the U.S. and Iran, saying, “When we go to the Gulf of Mexico, we will establish direct communication with them. In the view of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the illegitimate presence of the U.S. in the Persian Gulf makes no sense.”
The Iranian naval chief bragged about the presence of vessels in the Suez Canal, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and the Bab el-Mandeb. The end goal is to have a naval presence “in all open seas,” including the Atlantic Ocean. In March, he said the Iranian navy would deploy beyond the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman in 2012.
Iran has been aggressively building a presence in the Western Hemisphere. It is allied to Hugo Chavez’s government in Venezuela, where Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have a presence. They are collaborating on their nuclear programs, and Venezuela has agreed to allow Iran to construct a base for medium-range ballistic missiles on the Paraguana Peninsula. Hezbollah is spending $500,000 to set up operations in Cuba. Three operatives have arrived from Mexico, and another 23 are on their way. Hezbollah also has a presence in the Tri-Border Area between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and is working with drug lords in Mexico. It is very conceivable that Iranian warships will be allowed to dock in Venezuela, Cuba or perhaps another Latin American country.
The commander’s comments show that Iran aspires to be a global power and seeks to directly threaten the U.S. The preamble of the Iranian constitution says the regime is committed to “the establishment of a universal holy government and the downfall of all others.” A website tied to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei claimed that the U.S. is trying to hijack the Arab Spring and spark a Sunni-Shiite religious war. It said Iran must respond to the Saudi and Bahraini royal families’ oppression of Shiites. “There is indeed a better solution: crush the snake’s head (America),” the website said.
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