Islamic Republic’s New Navy Commander Looks to ‘Fly Iranian Flag in the Gulf of Mexico’
The new chief of the Iranian navy declared on Wednesday that the Tehran regime intends to “soon” send ships across the Atlantic Ocean to visit Latin American countries and “fly the Iranian flag in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Speaking to official Iranian media outlets, Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi said that the Islamic Republic plans to “unveil new vessels and submarines” that can operate effectively in international waters. The announcement comes following several weeks of Iranian military successes on the ground in Iraq, Kurdistan and Syria, all of which have boosted Tehran’s aim of securing an uninterrupted land corridor between Iran’s western borders and the Mediterranean coast.
Khanzadi was appointed to lead the navy on Nov. 6 by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. At his inauguration ceremony on Nov. 8, Khanzadi’s predecessor, Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, stated that “sailing in open waters between Europe and Americas should be the Navy’s goal, which will be realized in the near future.”
According to Sayyari, Khanzadi takes the helm of the Iranian navy at a time of visible expansion in its own region. Sayyari said that Iran has sent 47 warship flotillas into international waters since 2008. During that time, Iran has escorted more than 4,000 cargo ships and oil tankers in the strategic Gulf of Aden, located between Yemen and Somalia, and the Red Sea.
Sayyari has also urged the deployment of Iran’s 47th fleet as a security force for the entire Red Sea.
In February 2017, the Pentagon deployed two further US navy destroyers to patrol opposite ends of the 1,400 mile stretch of water. The US Navy’s stated policy is to retain “a continuous combat-ready force within the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Red Sea to protect the free flow of commerce, reassure our allies and partners, and deter acts of aggression against our forces and our partners.”