Why Iran's Revolutionary Guard wants to escort new Gaza flotilla
Iran is worried that Turkey is stealing the limelight on an issue Tehran has championed since 1979: the Palestinian cause. So its Revolutionary Guard has offered to escort an Iranian Gaza flotilla.
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“Under the circumstances, the Iranians will want to do something, otherwise they will lose the market – and the multibillion dollar investment – to the Turks,” he adds.Skip to next paragraph
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Ahmadinejad on whether Iran will escort aid ships
Iranian politicians have been quick to speak out against the Israeli raid, and propose joint aid convoys for Gaza. The narrow strip of land is jammed with 1.5 million people and has been subject to an Israeli blockade for three years, in an effort to stop materials used by Hamas and other militants to make bombs and rockets, and to increase deprivation to try to turn the population against Hamas.
“The duty of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the face of such an unchivalrous act [the flotilla raid] is to defend the innocent and defenseless people of Gaza,” said cleric Ali Shirazi, according to Iranian media translated by IranTracker.Org. “The Revolutionary Guards Navy has the power and preparedness to use all its potentials to escort freedom and peace caravans transporting humanitarian aid from the entire world to … Gaza.”
In Istanbul, Ahmadinejad praised and thanked the “great nation of Turkey” for siding so vociferously with the Palestinians. But he cast the battle in the broadest terms, in which Israel, supported by a “corrupt” United States, ran roughshod “beyond all humanitarian boundaries.” He vowed that Israel's resistance would prove futile in the face of persistent international pressure.
“Undoubtedly, this is not the end of the road. This is the beginning,” said Ahmadinejad. “And if they think, by using the machine guns, missiles, and support of some corrupt nations, they have been able to prevent the advance of one caravan, no doubt in the near future hundreds and thousands of caravans from different parts of the world will sail through the waters in order to be the harbingers of peace, love, humanity for the people of Gaza.”
But Ahmadinejad would not comment on whether an Iranian-escorted aid flotilla, which would require Egyptian approval to pass through the Suez Canal, was under way.
In response to a direct question from the Monitor about the willingness to provide military escort, the president said: “With regard to sending of aid to Gaza, we would certainly take into consideration all aspects of the questions, and then we will take the right decision.”
Any Iran aid delivery would be compared to Turkish effort
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.
And if Iranian goods are only able to enter by the land border into Gaza, recently reopened by Egypt?
“That is going to make the Iranians look quite quaint, in fact shy and retiring,” compared to the Turks, says Javedanfar. “For some militants, it will look like Iran is losing its edge.”