Weeks after the Israeli raid
on a predominantly Turkish flotilla to Gaza
became an international incident
, Iran has announced that it will send its
own flotilla to the blockaded territory
. Unlike Turkey, which is one of Israel's most
, Iran is openly hostile toward Israel. The plight of
Palestinians has long been a cause célèbre for leadership in Tehran, which
seeks to pressure Israel and promote Iranian influence among Arabs.
While some worry Iran could send a naval escort with the aid ships, thus
raising the possibility of violence, this would require Egypt's
approval to pass through Sinai. What can we expect to result?
- U.S. Concerned About Iranian Intentions The
Agence France-Presse reports, "United States
on Monday questioned the Iranian Red Crescent's decision to send aid
ships to Gaza, saying Tehran's intentions toward the Palestinian
territory were not 'benign.' ... The Iranian Red Crescent announced
Monday it would send three ships with humanitarian aid to Gaza, in the
latest bid to break the blockade imposed on the Palestinian territory by
Iran's arch foe Israel."
Or Are They? Newsweek's Mark Hosenball dissents, "U.S and European officials seem
surprisingly relaxed about news that
Iran is sending its own seaborne challenge to Israel’s Gaza blockade.
... despite concern that the Iranians are sending the ship in a
attempt to provoke the Israelis and worsen already severe tensions in
the area, European and U.S. officials say Tehran actually seems to have
dialed back some of its rhetoric and threats for the moment."
- Do They Want Violent Confrontation? The Christian Science
Monitor's Scott Peterson writes,
"Analysts say that Iran’s reaction – including Ahmadinejad’s repeated
reminders that the Islamic Republic has championed the Palestinian cause
since the 1979 Islamic revolution – is designed to recapture from
Turkey part of its self-declared role as the regional bastion of
militant resistance that fights for the oppressed. ... If Iran were to
send such a flotilla, it would likely steal the limelight back from the
Turks only in the event of a similar confrontation."
'Propaganda Game' Iran analyst Ali Nourizadeh tells Voice of America, "I think the whole
matter is just a propaganda game. Iran
knows that the Israelis would not allow them to get close to Israeli
territory and even the Egyptians would not welcome them, and that the
Iranian parliamentarians have to obtain visas to go to Egypt and I do
not think the Egyptians would welcome such a delegation. Iran lost the
propaganda game to Turkey and they just want to say that they are
- Iran Denies Military Role Al Jazeera reports, "[Iranian
aid official] Nouraee said that the ships would sail without protective
security because the Iranians 'do not want to fight'. His comments came
after General Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of Iran's
Revolutionary Guard denied a report on Monday that its naval forces
would escort the Iranian ships, Iran's Fars News Agency reported. Abdul Rauf Adibzadeh, the Red Crescent director
for international affairs, told [news agency] Irna that the vessels
will carry 'food, medication and medical equipments'. He said the Red Crescent has called for Iranian
volunteers to act as relief workers and accompany the vessels."
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
mfisher at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.