Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jittery Israel spars with Iran's navy

Israel successfully tested its Arrow anti-ballistic weapon in what appeared to be a timely demonstration of its military might as Iranian warships deploy in the Mediterranean for the first time in three decades.

The Jewish state is already alarmed by the downfall of the Cairo regime, linchpin of Israel's security policy since they signed a landmark peace treaty in 1979.

That's the same year another key ally of Israel, the shah of Iran, was toppled under circumstances not much different to those in play today, ushering in the era of Islamist terrorism with Israel a major target.

So the arrival of the Iranian frigate Alvand and a supply ship, the Kharq, in the Suez Canal while the Arab world is gripped by unprecedented political upheaval has heightened the considerable consternation sweeping Israel.

The aging British-built ships, en route to Syria, hardly constitute a military threat but no Iranian vessel has used the canal since the Islamic Republic was established, while Israel has sent missile boats and one of its Dolphin-class submarines southward into the Red Sea over the last two years.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared, "We can see what an unstable region we live in, a region in which Iran tries to exploit the situation that has been created in order to expand its influence by passing warships through the Suez Canal.