Iran claims it will host pro-Palestinian naval stunt – analysis

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced a naval drill on Thursday in which its naval units will hold a “parade” in support of the Palestinians. According to various Iranian state media, including Fars, IRNA and others, this is the “biggest parade of the authority of the naval mobilization of the IRGC Navy base people in support of the Palestinian people will be held at 15:30 this evening (Thursday, April 24) on the shores of the Persian Gulf, the Oman Sea, and the Caspian Sea.”

According to the Iranian claims, the stunt will involve some 2,500 boats and floating things from a whole plethora of IRGC-linked units, including the Basij. Tasnim News said that this “sea parade” will be in support of the Palestinian people and the cause of the “liberation” of Jerusalem.

The various events will supposedly take place “in the countries of the axis of resistance and on the coasts of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen and Iraq.” Iran apparently means it will get Hamas to participate from Gaza by saying it is doing this in “Palestine.”

Iran says that the IRGC Navy will send its vessels, which usually include hundreds of fast boats of varying type and quality. Some of these have been recently outfitted with drones and other weapons. Iran’s IRGC navy generally surpasses the actual Iranian navy in terms of its support from the regime, its role in regime activities, and often operates in the Persian Gulf and has harassed US and other vessels in the past.

Iranian state media claimed that according to the IRGC Navy’s Public Relations, Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri “said that the maritime parade will be held on April 13 in the northern and southern coastal regions of the country as well as in several ports around the world.”

Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) attend an IRGC ground forces military drill in the Aras area, East Azerbaijan province, Iran, October 17, 2022. (credit: IRGC/WANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

The rear admiral said that this was “to defend the [oppressed] people of Palestine, support their intifada (uprising), and condemn the heinous and cruel crimes of the Zionist regime; the largest popular parade by the vessels of the IRGC Navy’s Basij is planned for 15:30 on Thursday,” Tangsiri said.

Iran put out various statements claiming that the parade of vessels comes as it is expressing outrage at Israel’s activities in Jerusalem and it wants to show off an “effective and deterrent” action against the Jewish state, according to the Iranian foreign minister. This comes as Iran is also taking part in meetings with Russia and China in Uzbekistan and as the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad is meeting in Baghdad with officials and as the pro-Iranian Nujaba movement in Iraq recently threatened Israel with drone attacks on a propaganda video.

Parades are partly propaganda

These kinds of parades are partly propaganda, but sometimes show off new Iranian capabilities. The fact that Iran is openly planning this for various countries shows that even as Iran reconciles with Saudi Arabia it intends to continue to use Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Gaza to threaten Israel.

The coastline of these areas adds up to a large arc of Iranian influence. If Iran is going to draw down support for the Houthis in Yemen, it is unclear if it will continue to try to use Yemen to threaten Israel with the Houthis.

Recent moves by Iran in Iraq and Syria point back to its shifting focus to those countries. The naval parade shows off a power Iran generally lacks, which means it does not generally have a very large navy and neither do its proxies or allies.