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Sunday, April 07, 2013



Navy Sends New Fleet to Int'l Waters

TEHRAN (Fars) -- The Iranian navy dispatched its 25th flotilla of warships to the Gulf of Aden and the high seas to protect the country's cargo ships and oil tankers against pirates.
The 25th fleet of warships, comprised of Alborz missile warship and Larak logistic ship, left the army's first naval zone for a mission in the high seas on Thursday morning after the 24th flotilla returned home.
The Iranian flotilla is tasked with patrolling the Gulf of Aden to provide security for Iran's shipping lines and to also take Iran's message of peace, friendship and consolidation of regional cooperation to the regional nations.
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.

Delegation to Probe Deaths of Pilgrims

TEHRAN (Press TV) -- A senior Iranian lawmaker said Saturday a foreign ministry delegation will travel to Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh to probe the deaths of two Iranian pilgrims in Jeddah.
Chairman of the Majlis Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy Alaeddin Boroujerdi said that the Saudi government is obliged to provide security for Iranian pilgrims since the time they enter the country and should be accountable in this regard.
He added that the delegation would precisely investigate the case and that Iranian pilgrims will be relocated, through negotiations with the Saudi authorities, if their current accommodation is not safe.
Two Iranian pilgrims were killed and four others injured after a service truck crashed into a passenger lounge of Jeddah international airport in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, reports quoted the Saudi Civil Aviation Authority as saying on Friday.
Two of the wounded pilgrims were treated on the spot and were able to board a flight to Tehran. The other two were hospitalized.
The incident followed a recent deadly car crash caused by a drunk Saudi diplomat in Tehran.
A drunk Saudi embassy staffer killed an Iranian driver and injured a passer-by in a car accident in a northeastern neighborhood in Tehran.
The Saudi staffer rammed his vehicle into the Iranian car before veering off the road. The Iranian driver was killed on the spot.
Four bottles of alcoholic beverage have been found in the Saudi embassy employee’s car. Police were present at the scene and started an investigation into the case.

New Defense Achievements to Be Unveiled

TEHRAN (Fars) -- Iranian defense officials announced on Saturday that the country would display its first 500-ton submarine in the next few months.
Deputy Defense Minister for industrial and research affairs Muhammad Eslami said the designing and construction of Iran's new indigenous submarine is in its final phases and the new submarine will be launched by August 22, marking the National Day of the Defense Industry.
"All related works of this new submarine from designing to production of basic materials and equipments have been accomplished by local experts and proportionate to our conditions and needs," Eslami stated.
He added that the subsurface vessel with a weight of 500 tons will be Iran's first semi-heavy submarine and is a final ring in the china of the country's defense needs, given the other submarines, including Qadir-class light submarines and Tareq-class heavy submarines, that Iran already has.
In September 2012, the Iranian navy officially launched a heavy submarine after the subsurface vessel was overhauled by the country's experts.
Tareq-901 submarine was launched in Iran's southern port city of Bandar Abbas at the order of Leader of the Islamic Revolution and Commander in Chief Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.
In May 2012, Iranian navy commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari lauded Iranian experts' success in repairing heavy submarines, saying their outstanding capabilities and mastery of the hi-tech used in naval vessels display the failure of enemy sanctions and pressures.
He said the submarine, called Tareq, is now fully ready to be dispatched to the high seas.
He pointed to the Leader's recent alarming remarks that enemies are trying to display Iranians as an incapable nation, and said, "Today we show that 'We Can', and that our ability is way beyond the enemy's imaginations."
In 2011, the Iranian navy's Tareq-class submarine Younus managed to set a new record in sailing the international waters and high seas for 68 days.
Iran's Younus submarine, sailing alongside warships of the 14th fleet of the Iranian navy, returned home in early June 2011 following an over two-month-long mission in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
The deployment of the Iranian submarine in the Red Sea was the first such operation by the country's navy in far-off waters.

New Drones to Be Unveiled

Eslami said Iran plans to start unveiling a series of new home-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and fighter jets from April.
The country plans to unveil different types of defense achievements during the current Iranian year, which started on March 21, 2013, he added.
Eslami said home-made fighter jets as well as new indigenous modern drones will be unveiled this year.
He said Iran will start displaying new defense achievements from Khordad 3 (May 24), marking the anniversary of the liberation of Khorramshahr city from Iraqi occupation during the eight-year Iraqi imposed war (1980-1988).

Salafists Attack Iran's Mission in Cairo

CAIRO (Dispatches) -- A crowd of protesters has attacked the residence of Iran’s charge d'affaires to Egypt Mojtaba Amani in a suburb of the capital Cairo in protest at the warming relations between the two countries.
The crowd staged the protest in front of Amani’s residence on Friday and tried to scale the walls and break into the building, but was blocked by the police.
The protesters also attempted but failed to raise a flag of the militants in Syria over the building.
Amani said the crowd mostly comprised Salafi supporters as well as the supporters of the militants fighting in Syria. He added that they had been provoked to stage the protest by certain countries that are unhappy with the warming relations between Tehran and Cairo.
"How could the Egyptian security allow these Syrians to mess up with security?" Amany said in a phone interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm. He denied that the protesters’ claims that Iran seeks to spread the Shia faith in Egypt.
Late in the afternoon, minor clashes erupted between security forces and protesters demonstrating in front of the home Amani's home in Heliopolis.
Egyptian troops fired teargas to disperse protesters. The clashes then died down.
Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazou said the Salafi’s fears of the spread of the Shia faith in Egypt were unfounded. He said it would be impossible for the new influx of tourists from Iran to change Egyptian’s beliefs, adding that the tourists’ movements within the country would be carefully regulated.
He said that the Freedom and Justice Party had issued a statement on Wednesday declaring that national security and the defense of the country’s Sunni beliefs were lines that could not be crossed.
Hussein Ibrahim, the party’s secretary general, agreed that the Salafi’s fears were not legitimate, as no one would be able to lead the Egyptian people away from the Sunni path.
Iran severed its diplomatic ties with Egypt after the 1979 Islamic Revolution because Egypt had signed the Camp David Accords with the Israeli regime and offered asylum to Iran's deposed monarch, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Bilateral relations, however, have been on the mend following the 2011 Egyptian revolution that resulted in the ouster of the country’s dictator, Hosni Mubarak.
In August 2012, Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi visited Iran to attend a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). It was the first visit of an Egyptian president to Iran in more than three decades.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also visited Egypt in February to attend the 12th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as the first Iranian head of state to visit Egypt in 34 years.
Over the years Egyptian Salafis, who are close to Saudi wahhabism, have voiced a rejectionist discourse against Iran. Although this was convenient for Mubarak’s regime Salafis, then mainly an underground movement had no public say on the issue. In post-revolution Egypt, where they not only have a voice but exercise considerable influence, their anti-Iranian stand is as aggressive as ever.
This probably explains why the tourism agreement between Egypt and Iran effectively prevents Iranian tourists from visiting what for them would be the major draw, Cairo mosques dating from the time of the Fatimids (969 to 1171) when Egypt was officially Shia. If Cairo’s aim was to boost its faltering tourism sector it makes no sense at all to place prime attractions off limits, even when doing so placates the Salafis.
Tehran's officials are far more interested in seizing a post-revolution opportunity to improve ties with Cairo.
“Egyptian-Iranian relations have been progressing over the last two years,” Iran's Deputy FM Hussein Amir-Abdollahian told a press gathering at the Iranian embassy in Cairo recently. He described relations as “good” and “suitable”. Iran, he said, is fully prepared to cooperate with, and help President Mursi, the Egyptian government and people.
In desperate need of help to shore up its economy Cairo, still a U.S. ally, hasn’t been responsive. How long this will last remains to be seen. Assistance promised by supposedly “friendlier” states has yet to materialize, leaving Egypt’s economy on the brink.
Not that Tehran appears nonplussed. The decades-long barrier between two of the region’s most powerful states has been broken. Charter flights are only one symbolic, if politically loaded, aspect of this development. The next step will be signaled by strategic and economic agreements.
According to Abdollahian, the volume of trade between both countries in 2012 was only $400 million. “It’s not as much as it should be but this is a result of the holdover of fear from Mubarak days. If the fear subsides the volume of trade will double,” he told Al-Ahram Weekly.
An Egyptian-Iranian agreement was initially signed in October 2010 under Mubarak. Ahmed Shafiq, the then minister of civil aviation, signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran's vice president and head of tourism Hamid Ghavabesh. The agreement provided for up to 28 private flights a week.
Insiders say a powerful business tycoon close to Gamal Mubarak was behind the deal. The aim was purely financial, the tycoon motivated by profit. It signaled less a shift in Egypt’s position towards Iran but Mubarak increasingly giving way in the face of pressure exercised by his son’s semi-ruling business clique.
The agreement never came into effect. Three months after it was signed the January 2011 uprising which toppled Mubarak began. Now another businessman, Rami Lakah, owner of Air Memphis, has stepped in to replace the now jailed NDP tycoon.
It has taken post-revolution Egypt two years to implement the agreement: the delay must inform any assessment of how far Mursi is willing to go with Iran, especially given that the initial steps were taken by his predecessor.

MP Blasts Attack on UK Embassy

TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- The deputy speaker of Iran's parliament has condemned an attack in 2011 by Iranian protesters on the British embassy in Tehran.
"No one has the right to raid another country's embassy, it is our duty to protect them," Muhammadreza Bahonar, a presidential hopeful, said.
His comments came on the eve of Iran's nuclear talks with world powers.
The attack followed Britain's decision to impose further sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.
In the wake of the incident, Britain shut down its embassy in Tehran and expelled all Iranian diplomats from London.
On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran has "repeatedly" asked the UK to reopen its embassy. "What happened was a very grave event that should not have happened," said Salehi.
Iranian officials expressed regret immediately after the attack on the British embassy and another British diplomatic compound, but no one has been held accountable.
A number of conservative members of the parliament were among the protesters.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said at the time that relations between the UK and Iran were at their lowest level, but that the UK was not severing relations with Tehran entirely.