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Monday, February 21, 2011     GET REAL

Egypt granted Iran Navy access to Suez in 2010

JERUSALEM — For the first time in more than 30 years, Egypt has granted Iran naval access to the Suez Canal.


Iran has reported that its naval ships crossed the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea. On Feb. 20, Iran's semi-official Alam television said two Iranian Navy ships sailed through the canal into the eastern Mediterranean near Israel.

"Israel takes a grave view of this Iranian step," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

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Egypt did not report the canal crossing. But officials of the military-led regime in Cairo acknowledged that the Iranian Navy was granted permission to cross the Suez Canal.

Permission for the canal crossing was said to have been given to Iran in January 2010, when the Iranian Navy prepared for its first mission in the Mediterranean. Officials said the Iranian frigates were expected to dock in both Syria and Turkey. They said the first stop would be the Russian-built naval base in the Syrian port of Latakia.

Despite its protest, Israel was not expected to block passage of the Iranian Navy. The Israel Navy was said to have been on alert for any approach by the Iranian vessels.

"We can see what an unstable region we live in, an area in which Iran is trying to take advantage of the situation that has arisen and broaden its influence by transferring two warships via the Suez Canal," Netanyahu said.

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