Iran creating ‘floating terror bases’ as part of ‘pirate policy’

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Iran creating ‘floating terror bases’ as part of ‘pirate policy’

'Iran aims to expand its reach to the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and even the shores of the Mediterranean,' Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, May 22, 2023. Credit: Ariel Hermoni (IMoD)
Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, May 22, 2023. Credit: Ariel Hermoni (IMoD)

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is attempting to create “floating terror bases” in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the shores of the Mediterranean, Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant claimed on Monday. 

Gallant revealed details of what he referred to as Iran’s ongoing “pirate policy”. Iran’s strategy, he said, consists of converting trading vessels into military vessels armed with offensive equipment, such as UAVs and missile systems, and advancing its means for intelligence gathering.

The intention, Gallant said, is to station the vessels at high distances from Iran, for extended periods of time.

“The (Iranian plan) is a concerning, ‘pirate policy’. Iran is conducting itself like a collection of criminal organisations and not a modern state. The floating terror bases are an extension of Iran’s ongoing maritime terrorism, as seen in its actions in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea,” Gallant said at a conference hosted by the Institute for Policy and Strategy of Reichman University in Herzliya.

“Iran aims to expand its reach to the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and even the shores of the Mediterranean. This is a structured plan designed to threaten trade and flight routes – both military and civilian – and to create a permanent threat in the maritime arena,” he said.

According to reports in foreign media, Iran has attacked and seized several vessels and oil tankers in recent years in the Gulf of Oman and the Hormuz Strait, where its navy has a dominant presence.

In 2019, Iran seized the British-flagged tanker, Stena Impero, causing great tensions between the two countries. Earlier that year, Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker near Gibralater, suspect it had broken EU sanctions by carrying oil to Syria.

In February this year, Prime Minister Netanyahu accused Iran of attacking an Israeli-linked oil tanker in the Gulf, a claim Iran later denied. The shadow war between Iran and Israel escalated in recent years, with attacks taking place both on both land, air, sea and in cyberspace.

“The way to confront Iranian terrorism in the air, at sea, and on land is through international cooperation and the creation of coalitions,” Gallant said.

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