Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander, has recently been crowing about how the Islamic Republic of Iran had managed to disrupt traffic in the Persian Gulf, and now it is doing the same in the Red Sea. Full of braggadocio, he threatens that now the Islamic Republic will close off the entire Mediterranean Sea, and keep it closed until Israel halts its war in Gaza.
The Arabs call the Mediterranean El-Bahr el-Abiadh el-Moutawwassit, “la mer blanche du milieu” in French, and “the white sea in the middle [of the world]” in English. In the time of the Barbary Pirates, Muslim corsairs from North Africa would attack ships of the Christian powers throughout the Mediterranean, seizing the ships and enslaving their Christian seamen. Payment of a large ransom could sometimes, but not always, obtain the freeing both of the sailors and of the ships. Such attacks came to an end when the seamen of the young American Republic made war, successfully, on those they called the Barbary Pirates, and thereby put paid to those attacks on Christian ships by Muslim privateers. The Iranians ought to remember that history; it did not end well for the Muslims.
More on the threats of the Iranian boaster Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi can be found here: “Iran threatens Mediterranean closure over Gaza, without saying how,” i24News, December 23, 2023:
Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen has over the past month attacked merchant vessels sailing through the Red Sea as the group threatens to hit any Israel-linked ship. The series of incidents led some shipping companies to switch routes.
The White House on Friday [Dec. 22] said Iran was “deeply involved” in planning operations against commercial vessels in the Red Sea. The US on Monday announced plans to spearhead an international maritime coalition, responding to escalating attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea by the Houthi rebels.
Perhaps, in threatening to close down the Mediterranean, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander Brigadier General Mohammed Reza Naqdi was carried away by the recent success of the Islamic Republic’s proxies, the Houthis of Yemen, in using drones to attack ships in the Red Sea, causing commercial shipping in that international waterway to be halted. But now that the Americans have created an international coalition of naval powers to provide security in the Red Sea against Houthi drones, one can reasonably expect that they will no longer merely defend against those attacks, but will take the battle right to the Houthis in Yemen, with airstrikes on drone storehouses and Houthi fighters, crippling the Houthis as a military power.
Iran has no direct access to the Mediterranean itself and it was not clear how the Guards could attempt to close it off, although Naqdi talked of “the birth of new powers of resistance and the closure of other waterways.”
“Yesterday, the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz became a nightmare for them, and today they are trapped … in the Red Sea,” Naqdi was quoted as saying.
Just a minute, Brigadier General Naqdi. Last I looked, oil tankers were moving freely down the Persian Gulf and through the Strait of Hormuz out to the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean. And ships that had in previous weeks been avoiding the Red Sea, including those of shipping giant Maersk, are at the end of December using that sea route again. For the world’s maritime companies and countries have received confirmation that the previously announced multi-national security initiative, Operation Prosperity Guardian (OPG), has now been set up and deployed to allow maritime commerce to pass through the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden and once again to return to using the Suez Canal as of December 24.
That same Operation Prosperity Guardian could organize and send a multi-national flotilla right now, as a prompt response to Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi’s threat to “block the Mediterranean,” and station it smack in the middle of the Strait of Gibraltar, ready to blow out of the water any Iranian ship that dared to come close. That will be the end result of Naqdi’s empty threat. It’s just one more example — there are so many — of the braggart warriors in Tehran, shooting themselves in the foot.