FNA- Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said Tehran might set up on or offshore military bases in far waters, including the coasts of Yemen and Syria, in unspecified future.
“We need bases in distanced areas and perhaps we might one day come to have bases on the coasts of Yemen or Syria or establish bases on islands or offshore floating bases,” General Baqeri said, addressing a forum of Naval commanders in Tehran on Saturday.
He also underlined the necessity for Iran to have a flotilla of warships with the specific mission to protect Iran’s interests in the Indian Ocean similar to its fleet in the Sea of Oman.
His remarks came as Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced the country’s plans to expand naval presence in international waters, and said a flotilla of warships has now been deployed in the Atlantic Ocean.
“For the first time, the 44th flotilla comprised of Alvand and Bushehr destroyers could sail around the African continent and enter the Atlantic Ocean,” Admiral Sayyari told reporters in Tehran last Monday.
“The two destroyers are now deployed in Durban Harbor (South Africa),” he added.
Noting that deployment of the 44th flotilla of warships in the international waters indicates the Iranian Navy’s might and power, Admiral Sayyari said, “In addition to that, 5 fleets of warships have also been sent to other countries so far with a message of peace and friendship.”
Back in 2014, Admiral Sayyari had announced the country’s plans to deploy troops in the Atlantic Ocean.
“The Iranian Navy will definitely be present in the Atlantic Ocean in the near future,” Admiral Sayyari told reporters on the sidelines of his meeting with foreign military attaches in Tehran at the time.
He noted that conducting reciprocal visits to other countries, including the coastal countries of the Indian Ocean and the African countries, and exchanging naval visits and voyages are among the Navy’s programs.
“We are ready to hold joint naval drills with the neighboring countries as well,” Admiral Sayyari said.
In recent years, Iran’s Navy has been increasing its presence in international waters to protect naval routes and provide security for trade vessels and tankers.
The Islamic Republic has repeatedly asserted that its overseas naval presence is meant to convey a message of peace and friendship to other countries.
Iranian officials and commanders have repeatedly underlined that all military exercises and trainings of the Iranian Armed Forces are merely meant to serve deterrent purposes.
The Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008, when Somali raiders hijacked the Iranian-chartered cargo ship, MV Delight, off the coast of Yemen.
According to UN Security Council resolutions, different countries can send their warships to the Gulf of Aden and coastal waters of Somalia against the pirates and even with prior notice to Somali government enter the territorial waters of that country in pursuit of Somali sea pirates.
The Gulf of Aden – which links the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea – is an important energy corridor, particularly because Persian Gulf oil is shipped to the West via the Suez Canal.