Since 2000, Iran has perceptively expanded its navy. Most recently, Fars News Agency reported that the Iranian Navy had added two light submarines and a missile warship to its fleet. This follows the addition of fast-action, short-range speedboats designed to slip in and out of shallow coastal waters surrounding the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.
In June, Iran participated in a well-publicized joint naval exercise with Syria and Russia in the eastern Mediterranean.
Iran has traditionally been a land-based empire. So to understand Iran’s strategic plan in putting more ships in the sea, you must consider geography. In recent months, Tehran has continued to spread its influence in Libya and Ethiopia. And it appears that it has defeated Israel in the battle for influence in Eritrea.
Control over these nations leaves Iran with the tempting and strategically crucial possibility of being able to control the southern passage of the Red Sea.
Back in April 2011, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote, “[W]hy would Iran be so interested in getting some measure of control over Libya and Ethiopia? … All you need to do is get a good map of the Middle East, with the emphasis on the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Then you can see why the king of the south, or radical Islam, is so interested in an alliance with or control over these two countries (as well as Egypt and Tunisia). They are on the two seas that comprise the most important trade route in the world!”
If Iran were to cement its control of the Red Sea and the Suez Canal it, would prove to be a dangerous situation for more than just the Middle East. Seeing that Iran’s ambitions have progressed so successfully on the ground, any buildup in the Iranian Navy should be taken as cause for concern. As Trumpet columnist Brad Macdonald wrote recently, “More than 5 percent of global oil supplies, some 2 to 3 million barrels per day, pass through the Suez and the Red Sea. Roughly 20,000 ships—an average of 55 per day—pass through the Suez Canal and Red Sea each year. About 15 percent of global maritime trade travels through the Red Sea.” That is the power and leverage Iran would obtain should it gain control of the Red Sea.
The consequences would affect nearly every individual on this planet. An Iranian ability to threaten—or worse, shut down (even temporarily)—one of the most important maritime trade routes could create chaos in America and Europe almost overnight, Gerald Flurry wrote. “That could give Iran virtual control of the trade through those seas. Radical Islam could stop the flow of essential oil to the U.S. and Europe!”
The Trumpet has been warning about this for years, but now other sources are beginning to see it too. Dr. Shaul Shay wrote in a paper titled “Iran’s New Strategic Horizons at Sea” (July 26):
Iran recognizes the Red Sea as a strategic area of interest because of its desire to gain control over the main maritime oil and gas route to the West, the straits on each corner of the Arabian Peninsula: Hormuz to the east and Bab-el-Mandeb to the west. The latter forms the southern tip of the Red Sea between Eritrea and Yemen, places of strategic importance for Iran. Control of this area is also important when combatting Somali pirates who operate in the Gulf of Aden and threaten international oil shipping routes. The Red Sea route is also a main channel of communication and arms supply from Iran to its regional ally Hamas in the Gaza Strip, allowing Iran to funnel weapons to the Strip via Yemen, the sea, and through Sudan to Sinai and ultimately Gaza.
A Tehran with the ability, to lock down the Persian Gulf and Red Sea would make it very obvious to the world that it was the undisputed king of the Middle East. But contrary to what Iran may believe—threatening the world’s oil trade routes will also make it a bigger target for the West, especially Europe. ▪