Iranian Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari recently praised his navy for their maritime security performance. Iran’s geographical placement puts nearly all of their oil and cargo vessels at risk for the plague of piracy that has infested the Indian Ocean.
Sayyari, recently speaking to journalists, said of the success of the navy he commands: “We have had no piracy in the last 6 months and that signifies the power of the Navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the seas since it has been able to ensure security in the said regions.”
Iran has been conducting anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and Bab-el-Mandeb, a strait between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
The Admiral continued, “Almost 3,000 ships have so far been escorted and the shipping routes are now secured.” He elaborated that Iranian forces have been involved in 130 different clashes with pirate groups.
Sayyid has also proclaimed that his navy is in full control of the region, having completely discouraged pirates from attacking Iranian merchant vessels: “Now pirates do not have the courage to get close to our vessels due to the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy’s 100% control over the region.”
The Iranian Navy has been active in the region since pirates hijacked the MV Delight in 2008, which was an Iranian-chartered cargo vessel.
Due to the increasing problem of piracy, the United Nations has allowed foreign navies to freely travel and perform security operations in the areas of the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. Additionally, the ships are allowed to enter Somali territorial waters as long as they give prior notice to the Somali government.
This area of ocean is vital to the global economy, but even more important to Iran. Most of the oil coming from the country travels west through the Gulf of Aden, and eventually through the Suez Canal. As all of these areas have been problematic as of late, the aggressive Iranian response to the problem is unsurprising, as is the success the country has had in deterring pirate attacks.