Commentary Magazine


Will Iran Build a Base on the Red Sea?

Speculation is growing in both Iran and Sudan that Tehran and Khartoum are negotiating—or have negotiated—an agreement to provide Iran a base on the Red Sea. The move comes after Iranian warships have twice made port calls at the Sudanese Red Sea city of Port Sudan in recent weeks, and comes after the Iranian supreme leader—on Iran’s November 27 “Navy Day”—again declared that the Iranian navy would no longer be confined to the Persian Gulf. So much for containment.

Iranian leaders are full of bluster. In recent years, the Iranians have spoken about deploying ships into the Atlantic Ocean (they have no logistical capability to supply such ships); building aircraft carriers (they lack the technical capability); and developing their own nuclear submarines (simply declaring their desire to do this would justify uranium enrichment up to 96 percent, more than enough—not by coincidence—to build a nuclear bomb). Sometimes, however, their declarations are not bluster. Iran sees itself in a chess match with the United States and Israel. They are now making their move. Let us hope that President Obama’s response is not simply to draw down the Navy and pivot to Asia.