Every so often, statements by military commanders in Iran indicate intentions and plans to expand Iranian naval activities and establish an Iranian naval fleet in the Atlantic. This was mentioned by former commander of the Iranian Navy, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, as well as his successor, Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, who announced his country’s intention to send the Iranian fleet to the Atlantic and raise the Iranian flag in the Gulf of Mexico. Today, the Deputy Commander of the Navy announces the departure of a group of Iranian naval vessels in March 2019, to the Atlantic Ocean on a mission of about five months. More and more statements issued by the Iranian leaders every day on strengthening the naval fleet and the accession of destroyers and submarines and so on.

In fact, the bravado of Iran’s military leaders and their attempts to exaggerate their military power, especially the navy, in an exaggerated manner is nothing more than a psychological war and a propaganda for domestic consumption, trying by which to obtain diplomatic gains and reassuring Iran’s allies and strengthening their morale, which is witnessing a significant collapse at this stage.

Through these claims, Iran seeks to score a point in the Iranian-American media spar by promoting its power and its imaginary position, as well as diverting the local public opinion from the major issues and crises that have turned into fuel for a number of protests and demonstrations against the regime’s policies. Distracting public opinion is one of the most important goals of the Iranian leaders’ boastings on Iran’s growing military power and reaching the world’s oceans.

The second objective is to try to create an excuse for an Iranian presence in the international water, the real aim of which is to prepare for terrorist activities and to target the interests of countries that stand against the Iranian project, such as planning to target oil tankers and commercial navigation through terrorist groups prepared by Iran and sent to sensitive areas of international water and threatening the security and stability of maritime navigation in general. Perhaps Iran will move further in its attempt to build military bases in the oceans and international water in order to intensify its terrorist action against the interests of countries hostile to it.

So, the fact that Iran wants to reach the Atlantic Ocean to compete with the United States is a blatant lie that many see it as a joke, and its clarification only needs to go back to the sarcastic comments by Americans, Europeans and even the Iranians. Everyone knows that Iran’s military capabilities cannot be compared to the American military capabilities. The difference is huge, and this is unquestionable. Iran’s military and political leaders are aware of this and openly acknowledge it. Indeed, the leaders of the Iranian regime are the world’s most leaders who fear the United States and avoid angering it by making concessions at all levels, most of which are hidden and carried out in secret.

Iran’s goal of reaching the international water is to expand its influence and interference in the countries of the region, and part of the mechanisms of implementing its expansionist project, exporting the revolution and spreading Shiism. Iran’s attempt to have a naval presence in the Gulf of Aden and on the southwestern entrances of the Pacific and along the strategic sea route between the Strait of Hormuz and Bab al-Mandab is mainly aimed at paving the way for further Iranian interventions and supporting its ground interventions in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. The most important is the expansion of its threat of carrying out terrestrial and naval terrorist activities and the formation of extremist and terrorist groups targeting the interests of the Arab countries on land and sea, especially as Iran announced having frigate called Sahand, supposedly capable of carrying planes, missiles and heavy weapons, and also can be turned into a military base from which the activities of terrorist groups are launched.

Iranian public opinion sees these intentions as a continuation of the regime’s policies and interventions in the region and another channel of wasting Iranian efforts and funds to no avail. Experts in the Iranian issues confirm that these policies will only bring to Iran more crises and internal problems and international isolation and will not have effective military influence. The Iranian naval fleet is ineffective and does not deserve to be called a naval fleet because it is old combat ships purchased during the Shah’s era, which experts say has become obsolete and has no technological or technical capabilities. These vessels were mostly designed on the bases of Italian and British warships from the 1950s and 1960s. Such a depleted fleet can never exist alongside other powerful naval fleets such as of the Americans, Russians, Chinese and Britons, especially since Britain and America have a strong maritime presence in the Atlantic, Britain in the East and the United States in the West, and these fleets will have a harsh reaction to any Iranian military presence in the Atlantic Ocean. Moreover, any Navy presence in the ocean needs a host country, and Iran will not find hosts for its alleged fleet, despite having friends in South America.

Iran’s naval action in the Atlantic Ocean and deploying its fleets in the South China Sea, the Strait of Bab al-Mandab, the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, the Strait of Malacca and other sensitive maritime areas cannot impose a real military presence in those areas. However, this can be used as a tool to carry out terrorist activities that threaten the regional countries and target their national interests and ensure through them to secure the delivery of weapons and equipment to Iran’s terrorist arms, mainly the Houthis in Yemen.

Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre

January 8, 2019