Israeli FM Says Iran Warships To Transit Suez Canal – Is ‘Provocation,’ ‘Insolence’


Israel’s foreign minister claimed Wednesday that Iran is about to send two warships through the Suez Canal for the first time in years, calling it a “provocation,” but he offered no evidence. The Egyptian authority that runs the canal denied it but pointed out that all ships were free to do so as long as they did not come from a country at war with Egypt.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the ships would cross later Wednesday, en route to Syria. He did not say how he knew it.

“This is a provocation that proves that Iranian audacity and insolence are increasing,” he said in a statement.

Ahmed el-Manakhli, head of Egypt’s canal operations room, denied the claim, saying warships must get permission 48 hours before crossing, and “so far, we have not been notified.”

The BBC said that there had been reports reports last month that Iran’s navy planned to send a “fleet” to the Mediterranean Sea for a year.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an e-mailed statement that “Israel is closely following the movements of the Iranian ships and has updated friendly states on the issue. Israel will continue to follow the ships movements.”

Security officials said they have known of Iranian ship movements for some time and expect them to arrive at the canal Thursday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

In Washington, the Pentagon declined to comment.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley confirmed the presence of the ships in the area of the canal but would not say if that was considered provocative.

“There are two ships in the Red Sea,” he said, “What their intention is, what their destination is, I can’t say.”

Complete article via Washington Post

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