December 24, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 11038

Iranian Navy Deputy Commander Hamzeh Ali Kaviani On The Establishment Of The Red Sea Naval Coalition: 'For 15 Continuous Years We Have Been Carrying Out Missions In The Red Sea – This Is A Zone Of Conflict For [Iran's] Resistance Front Against The Arrogance [i.e. the U.S.] – And To Date, Our Fight Against The Americans And Israelis Has Been In Our Favor'

December 24, 2023
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 11038

Against the backdrop of the U.S. announcement of the establishment of a multinational naval coalition to counter the attacks on Western and Israeli vessels in the Red Sea by the Houthis, who are Iran's proxy in Yemen, Rear Admiral Hamzeh Ali Kaviani, who is deputy commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy, spoke at a December 19, 2023 conference titled "The Basij and Naval Force in the Iran-Iraq War." He said that Iranian forces have been carrying out military operations in the Red Sea, which is a zone of conflict between the Iran-led resistance and the "arrogance" – the term used by the Iranian regime to refer to the U.S., the Western leadership, and sometimes Europe.

In the Iranian regime's view, the U.S.-led multinational effort to secure shipping routes in the Red Sea is a manifestation of the religious and civilizational war that Iran is waging in the name of Islam against the U.S. and the West. The Iranian leadership is explaining in the media of the Middle East that Iran, the Islamic ummah, and the resistance axis – that comprises Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, the Houthis in Yemen, and the Shi'ite militias in Iraq, Syria, and the Syrian Golan Heights – constitutes the front of truth that is waging a religious and civilizational war against the front of falsehood comprising the Jews and the Christians in the West.[1]

On December 11, 2023, the Iranian regime mouthpiece Kayhan published an article calling on all the groups belonging to Iran's resistance axis, and particularly the Houthis in Yemen, to attack any naval vessels with links to Israel "with missiles, drones, and all other possible means." It also called for a heavy price to be exacted from any country that supports Israel or has economic or political ties with it (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 11020, Iranian Regime Mouthpiece 'Kayhan': 'The Most Important Strategy Of The Resistance Front... Must Be To Create Horror In All [Global] Relationships And Commerce With The Zionist Regime... By Means Of Reinforcing And Expanding The [Attacks By The] Resistance At Sea, With Missiles And Drones, And All Other Possible Ways', December 14, 2023).

Iranian Navy Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Hamzeh Ali Kaviani

Kaviani's statements are noteworthy as a rare public admission that Iranian military forces are operating in the Red Sea, which is thousands of miles from Iranian shores. Typically, Iran conceals its hand in the region by hiding behind its proxies. For instance, on December 14, 2023, Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani said in an interview, also in response to the establishment of the multinational naval coalition in the Red Sea, that if the Americans make "a foolish move," they will "be faced with extraordinary problems," and adding: "This region is ours." Within a few hours, in an attempt to walk back Ashtiari's statements, the report of the interview clarified that "this region is ours" was a reference to Iran's control in the Persian Gulf, not the Red Sea (see Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani Responds To Proposed U.S.-Backed Red Sea Force: If The Americans 'Make Such A Foolish Move, They Will Be Faced With Extraordinary Problems'; 'This Region Is Ours', December 15, 2023).  

Also in his speech, Kaviani called Iran's navy "the supreme power in the region," declaring that in Iran's conflict with the U.S. and Israel, Iran always triumphs and always has the upper hand.

The following is a translation of Rear Admiral Kaviani's December 19 statements: [2]

"The Americans Attacked The New Islamic Civilization By Encouraging Iraq [To Start The War], But They Did Not Take Into Consideration The Iranian Nation And The Leadership Of Imam [Khomeini]"

"When [Saddam Hussein's] Ba'ath regime [in Iraq] felt that we were weak [in 1979], he attacked our borders. But in fact, [Saddam's] regime launched a civilizational war between the Islamic and Western civilizations. It did this on behalf of the arrogance [i.e. the U.S.-led West].

"[Iran's] Islamic Revolution upset the balance [of power] in the new era, and Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini established the new Islamic civilization. Imam Khomeini artfully used the Islamic Revolution to harness the energy and capabilities of the youth in order to confront the arrogance [the U.S.]. Also during the era of the Islamic Revolution, he directed the revolution with the support of the [Iranian] nation, and, as he foresaw, communism crumbled and the [West's] intelligence agencies perceived the Islamic Revolution as a threat to the West.

"Nonetheless, our country turned all the threats into opportunities. After the [arms] embargo against us, the Americans launched an intelligence and security war against us... The West's greatest threat against us at the beginning of the revolution was the launch of the [Iran-Iraq] War [in 1980], that not even Saddam [Hussein] thought would last eight years [as it did]. In fact, the Americans attacked the new Islamic civilization by encouraging Iraq [to start the war], but they did not take into consideration the Iranian nation and the leadership of Imam [Khomeini]. This is what led to their defeat."

"Today We Have A Presence Beyond Our [Maritime] Borders, And For 15 Continuous Years We Have Been Carrying Out Missions In The Red Sea"

"During the Iran-Iraq War, [Iran's] Navy destroyed Iraq's navy within 67 days, and it also escorted 10,000 ships at sea. Were it not for this, [Iran] would have suffered severe famine. These successes were achieved thanks to the steadfastness of our fighters and our nation.

"All the biggest wars in the world began on land and ended at sea. This is also be the case with our war. From 1986 onwards, Iraq understood that it does not succeed at sea, and this is why the Americans entered the naval war with us [a reference to the Tanker War, launched by Iran against Iraq and Kuwait that led to the increase in the Western military presence in the Persian Gulf shipping lanes]. During that time period, the IRGC Navy, which had just been established, inflicted heavy damage to the U.S. Navy by using asymmetrical tactics [a reference to incidents in which U.S. Navy vessels were damaged by Iranian mines in commercial shipping lanes]. Eventually, Saddam and the Americans concluded that they could not contend with Iran at sea.

"Today, we have at sea power, technology, and a policy. In the past, we confronted the enemy in the Strait of Hormuz, but today we have a presence beyond our [maritime] borders, and for 15 continuous years we have been carrying out missions in the Red Sea. This is a zone of conflict for [Iran's] resistance front against the arrogance [i.e. the U.S.] – and to date, our fight against the Americans and Israelis has been in our favor.

"Iran's naval force, which consists of the fleets of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army and of the IRGC, is the leader in manufacturing all sorts of weapons, and it is the supreme power in the region."

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