Iran opens fourth navy base in Persian Gulf

Islamic Revolutionary Guards strategically positioned base opposite US base in Bahrain. (The Media Line)

persian gulf 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
persian gulf 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced the opening of its fourth navy base on the shores of the Persian Gulf, opposite the United States Navy Base in Bahrain. "The [IRGC Navy] forces' preparedness to confront any sort of threat posed by enemies in the Persian Gulf has increased," Rear Admiral Murteza Saffari told reporters on Monday. Saffari explained that the location of the new navy base near the port town of Asalouya, was chosen because it showed the "highest level of foreign naval movements" and because of its strategic position opposite the US Navy Base in Bahrain. The IRGC's navy commander added it was now necessary to raise the combat readiness of the new Tharallah Navy Base in order to face "the insecure atmosphere created by foreigners in the Persian Gulf." The Tharallah navy base is located approximately 260 miles west of the Hormuz Strait. Strategically located in the Gulf between Iran and the UAE, the Hormuz Strait is the only sea passage to the open ocean for oil-rich exporters such as Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and the UAE. In recent months, Iran has warned it would close down the Strait in case of a military attack against the country. Apart from its navy base in Bahrain, the United States also operates an Air Force base in Qatar, a few miles eastward. Last September, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanai, charged the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) with defending the waterway in the Gulf instead of the regular military navy. Khamanai's security adviser, the former commander of the IRGC, Maj.-Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, warned that any hostile targets throughout the Gulf, and all warships passing through it, would be within the reach of the IRGC's missiles. The IRGC was established after the Islamic revolution in 1979. It is separate from the regular army, the Artesh, and is equipped with its own ground, naval and air forces, as well as special forces operating outside Iranian territories, known as the al-Quds Force. With 20,000 soldiers serving in its naval forces, the IRGC's navy is much smaller than the regular military navy. Nevertheless, Khamanai's move is considered by Dr. Shahram Chubin, an expert on Iran, as potentially dangerous to regional security. "The regular military navy… has a decent working relationship with the coalition navies in the Gulf… it has certain rules of behavior and procedures to avoid incidents on the waterway," Chubin told The Media Line. The IRGC, added Chubin, tended to "zoom around the coalition forces and intimidate them, calling them names and creating tensions with them." In the past few years, the IRGC naval forces have become more and more active in the Gulf. They were also responsible for the kidnapping of British servicemen twice since 2004, said Chubin, who is the director of studies at the Geneva Center for Security Policy.