Two Iranian naval ships have docked in the Saudi port of Jeddah. Iranian officials say the move aims to project the country’s “power on the open seas” and “confront Iranophobia.”
The supply ship Kharg and destroyer Shaid Qandi docked on Saturday in the Red Sea port in line with orders from the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to Iran’s news agency, Fars.
“This mission aims to show the power of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the open seas and to confront Iranophobia,” Fars quoted navy commander Admiral Habibollah Sayari as saying.
The commander added that the mission would last between 70 and 80 days, but did not specify its route.
Tehran says boosting its naval presence in international waters is in part motivated by the need to protect Iranian ships from Somali pirates.
This is why Iranian vessels were deployed to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden last year.
In February 2011, for the first time ever, it also sent two naval vessels into the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal.
The rise in Iran’s naval activity comes amid a steep deterioration of its relations with the West.
Its ties with Saudi Arabia are also in poor health, and have gone downhill fast since America accused Tehran of masterminding a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington.