Iran Is On The Move, While The US Remains “Curious” (Update: On or Off?)

I wrote a few days ago about the Iranian warships coming to Saudi Arabia. Now there are Iranian warships making their way to Syria:

Israel is monitoring two Iranian warships about to pass through the Suez Canal for Syria and warn they might act.

The Israeli navy will be tracking the two warships as they cross the Suez Canal for the Mediterranean Sea, according to defense officials.

Israeli’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says that “Israel cannot ignore these provocations,” according to

…Iran announced plans to deploy warships near Israel and dock at a Syrian port for a year, 

This is no small thing, as evidenced by the fact that The Wall Street Journal reports that US Stocks Pull Back On Iran Warship Concerns.

J.E. Dyer notes the implications of the Iranian ship entering the Suez:

The ships themselves are hardly impressive: one frigate with old anti-ship missiles and one barely armed replenishment ship. From that perspective, the reactions of global markets might seem excessive. These ships can’t fight a war. But the reactions are actually quite rational. The big shift here is in political perceptions of power. The important facts are that revolutionary, terror-sponsoring Iran — under U.S., EU, and UN sanctions — feels free to conduct this deployment, and Syria feels free to cooperate in it. Egypt’s interim rulers apparently saw no reason to block the Suez transit, in spite of the Egyptians’ very recent concern over Iranian-backed terrorists and insurgents operating on their territory. Saudi Arabia, for its part, considered it prudent to host the Iranian warships last week — in spite of the Saudis’ own conviction that Iran has been aiding rebel groups that threaten Saudi territory.[emphasis added]

So, what is the US reaction-well, the White House actually had nothing to say about the Iranian ships:

Reuters’ Jeff Mason: Israel said today that Iranian warships plan to sail through the Suez Canal to Syria. Does the United States view that as a provocation, and how should Israel react?

[White House Press Secretary Jay] Carney: Look, I think our position on Iran in a variety of ways is well known. I would refer you on that specifically to the State Department. I don’t have anything for you on the ship in the Suez.

OK, then let’s go to there-but what the State Department says about the Iranian ships doesn’t inspire much confidence either:

U.S. State Department spokesman PJ Crowley would not say whether they were warships and could not confirm their destinations.

“There are reports there are a couple of ships in the Red Sea,” Crowley said. “What they do, where they go – we’ll follow this with some curiosity.”

“We always watch what Iran is doing,” he said.

Um, maybe that’s part of the problem-always watching.
And the best that Crowley could muster was that something that brought a reaction from the markets was greeted with “curiosity”.

Iran is continuing with its nuclear plans, it’s proxy Hezbollah has control in Lebanon and Iran has provocatively sent two ships that are going to dock at Syria for a year.

And what is the reaction of the Obama administration?
Not much.

UPDATE: It is now being reported that Iran warships cancel request to cross Suez Canal:

A senior Suez Canal official says two Iranian warships have withdrawn their application to transit the waterway following expressions of concern by Israel over the plans.

The official said no reason was given for Thursday’s decision to withdraw the application. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, also said it was not known if the vessels intended to transit the waterway at a later date.

So why did Iran back off?

It was not because of anything the US said or did, but rather because Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman made clear that the Iranian ships were a “provocation that proves that the overconfidence of the Iranians is growing from day to day.”

UPDATE II: There is also an unconfirmed report that Egypt blocked the Iranian ships by refusing them permission to go through.

UPDATE III:This isn’t over-according to Iranian TV: The Iranian passage through the Suez Canal is on:

The passage of two Iranian warships through the Suez Canal is still on, despite Egyptian words to the contrary, according to a Thursday report by Iranian state television.

A senior Iranian source said, “We are in contact with out colleagues in Cairo to insure the passage of the vessels. The Egyptian authorities said there is no bar to the passing of the ships.”

And just where is the Obama administration during all this?

Hat tip: Noah Pollak via Soccer Dad

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Daled Amos

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