On many levels, Israel’s interception of the Klos-C arms ship was an exceptional feat of which we should be proud. It entailed the successful coordination and integration of multi-sourced information from intelligence bodies inside and outside the IDF.
Covert operations by special forces working hundreds of kilometers from home over the course of months were necessary to follow the circuitous route the Islamic Republic charted for the Chinese-made and Syrian-upgraded M-302 rockets. From Damascus to Tehran to Bandar Abbas, near Oman, and then back up the Persian Gulf to the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, the shipment was carefully and clandestinely followed, until it was captured en route to Port Sudan where the plan, apparently, was to move the rockets by land from Sudan to Egypt and from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.
The navy commandos and other forces that took part in storming the cargo ship performed their jobs without a hitch. Klos-C’s crew was taken completely by surprise. Not a single person was injured.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and other government officials involved in the decision-making process demonstrated leadership and a willingness to take calculated risks.
But the seizure of the Klos-C is an important Israeli accomplishment for another reason. At a time when the “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani and his ever-smiling Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have turned on a charm offensive that has succeeded in clinching for the Islamic Republic a partial reprieve from crippling sanctions, Israel has once again reminded the world of the danger of allowing Iran to leverage to a devastating degree its destabilizing impact on the region by achieving nuclear weapon capability.
For some time now the US has identified Tehran as the world’s most active sponsor of state terrorism. As part of its support for the Shi’ite insurgency in Iraq, Iran has killed Western liberation forces and hundreds of innocent Iraqi citizens. Via its moral, material and tactical support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Iranians have aided and abetted the killings of US and Western forces there as well. The 1983 Beirut barracks bombings that left 241 US Marines dead is just one example.
Other examples of Iran’s pernicious influence around the globe are the 1994 AMIA bombing against the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 dead and wounded more than 300; the fatwa placed on Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie; the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing that left 30 dead, including 19 American soldiers, and 372 wounded.
Iran has shown a willingness to ignore the Sunni- Shi’ite divide and join hands with al-Qaida to carry out terrorist attacks. Iran is said to have been involved in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, 9/11, and perhaps the 2003 Riyadh compound bombings that killed 39 and wounded more than 160.
In this part of the region, Iran has done more than any other country to foster instability. Diametrically opposed to a peace process that would lead to a two-state solution with the Palestinians, the Islamic Republic until recently supported Hamas. When the Iranian-backed Syrian army began massacring members of Hamas’s sister organization the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas broke off ties.
Today Iran continues to provide support to Islamic Jihad and other violently reactionary Islamist terrorist organizations in Gaza that vow to destroy the “Zionist entity” and reject a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
In they had reached the Gaza Strip, the M-302 rockets on the Klos-C would have improved Islamic Jihad’s ability to terrorize Israeli civilians. Towns such as Nahariya in the North and Eilat in the South would have come within the 200-km. range of the rockets.
Prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace, already dim, would have been made even worse.
Iran, led by sophisticated politicians who know how to present a façade of reasonableness and moderation, has been revealed for what it really is: a puppet master for global terrorism. Imagine the strings Tehran would be pulling if had nuclear weapons backing it up. The world must not let this happen.