Iranian naval assistance in Africa

Reuters

One of two Iranian navy warships arrives to dock at Port Sudan in the Red Sea state December 8, 2012.

Article Highlights

  • The Iranian outreach to Africa continues apace.

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  • Tehran’s naval outreach suggests that Tehran is seeking to leverage its emphasis on naval development for diplomatic gains.

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  • It appears that the Iranian government hopes to continue that trend and send its Navy into the Atlantic Ocean as well.

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The Iranian outreach to Africa (detailed in the April 2013 Operational Environment Watch) continues apace, despite the transition from the Ahmadinejad to Rouhani administrations. The excerpted article notes a visit by the commander of the Namibian Navy to the Islamic Republic to meet with his Iranian counterparts and tour various Iranian naval facilities.
The visit culminates a diplomatic revival in ties between the two countries. While Iran had maintained an embassy in Windhoek in the decade after the Islamic Revolution, it shuttered its embassy 15 years ago because of the economic cost of maintaining the embassy and its diplomatic presence. Iran’s renewed interest in Namibia coincides with Namibia’s expansion of its uranium mining industry; today, Namibia is the fifth largest producer of uranium after Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia, and Niger.

While the report says that Iran seeks to provide assistance to counterpiracy efforts not only off the Horn of Africa but along the west coast of Africa as well, Tehran’s naval outreach also suggests that Tehran is seeking to leverage its emphasis on naval development for diplomatic gains, and that it continues to seek locations to which it might send flotillas to show the Iranian flag. In recent years the Iranian Navy has sent ships through the Suez Canal into the Eastern Mediterranean, and made numerous port calls in Sudan; earlier this year, it sent three ships into the Pacific Ocean, making port calls in China and Sri Lanka. It appears that the Iranian government hopes to continue that trend and send its Navy into the Atlantic Ocean as well.

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