Home > Iran, Israel, Suez Canal > Two Iranian Warships May Pass Through Suez Canal, Israel’s Lieberman Says

Two Iranian Warships May Pass Through Suez Canal, Israel’s Lieberman Says

February 16, 2011

By Gwen Ackerman

Bloomberg

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that two Iranian gunboats are planning to sail late today to Syria through Egypt’s Suez Canal in what he called a “provocation.”

“Regretfully, the international community isn’t showing readiness to deal with the recurring Iranian provocations,” Lieberman said today in a speech to U.S. Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. “The international community must understand that Israel can’t ignore forever these kinds of provocations.”

The Israeli statement comes five days after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down and unrest in North Africa spread to the Persian Gulf, where Bahrain and Iran have seen anti-government protests since Feb. 14. Israeli leaders have voiced concern that Iran may exploit the period of transition.

The Suez Canal Authority’s head of traffic, Ahmed El Manakhly, said that no Iranian gunboats have passed through the canal today. Speaking by telephone, El Manakhly also said that he hasn’t been informed of any Iranian warships planning to pass through the waterway later today.

“This is currently a test of Israel and Egypt and the U.S. in the wake of the regime change that is taking place in Egypt,” Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, said in a telephone interview. “Iran is interested in shifting attention away from the internal demonstrations and a military confrontation is always a convenient means of doing this, especially in the Middle East.”

Oil Markets

Gasoline and heating oil advanced in New York, following Brent crude oil in London higher for a third day, as fuel demand increased and on reports of the Iranian warships.

Brent for April delivery rose $2.26 to $103.90 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange as Middle East protests spread to Libya, threatening fuel supplies.

U.S. stocks pared gains, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index near a 32-month high.

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