By Sadegh Fereydounabadi

 122,000 tons of diplomacy

May 21, 2023 - 21:14

TEHRAN – Henry Kissinger once hailed U.S. aircraft carriers as being “100,000 tons of diplomacy,” highlighting the role navy ships play in shoring up diplomacy.

After years of assiduous efforts, Iran now has its own 1,500 tons of diplomacy. The 86th flotilla of the Iranian Army’s Navy showed that during its circumnavigation of the world over the past eight months. 

The flotilla, comprised of a domestically-manufactured Dena destroyer and Makran forward base ship, set sail from Iran’s southern port of Bandar Abbas on September 20, 2022 in a voyage around the world. Dena and Makran together weigh more than 122,000 tons.  They sailed around the world, passing through important ports, seas and oceans. They ultimately returned home on Saturday and were welcomed by Iran’s military and civilian officials. 

The Iranian flotilla broke the record for the distance an Iranian flotilla has sailed in international waters. 

“I congratulate the courageous men of the 86th flotilla of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Navy on their great, successful sailing mission. Respected navy, welcome home. I wish you success,” the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a congratulatory message. 
General Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of the joint staff of the armed forces, said the 86th flotilla did “a great job.”

“I salute these warriors who did a great job and completed their mission with exemplary determination and made the Iranian nation, navy and army proud,” General Bagheri said, according to Tasnim. 

He made the remarks at a welcome ceremony in Bandar Abbas held to celebrate the return of the seafaring flotilla. He said Iran has all the elements in place for becoming a navy power. “Naval power is one of the most important factors of the country's power. We have nothing short of being a great naval power, we have a long and large coastline, we have capable industries of producing weapons and domestically needed equipment,” he said. 

Admiraal Shahram Irani, the commander of the Iranian Army’s Navy, who participated in the welcoming ceremony, said the Navy has expanded its sphere of influence. “With its presence in the high seas of the world and long-term seafaring, the strategic navy of the army has expanded its strategic depth and foresight in maritime power along with its sphere of influence and regional identity,” he said, according to Fars News.

Navy power also props up diplomacy. George P. Shultz, the 60th U.S.  secretary of state, once famously said, “Negotiations are a euphemism for capitulation if the shadow of power is not cast across the bargaining table.”

And the Iranian Navy’s circumnavigation of the globe has already boosted Iran’s diplomacy at a time when the West tries to portray Iran as a threat to global and regional security. 
On May 19, AP reported that the commanders of the U.S., British and French navies in the region transited the Strait of Hormuz aboard the USS Paul Hamilton destroyer. 

On Saturday, the commander of the IRGC Navy’s 1st zone Commodore Gholamshahi confirmed the report, saying the IRGC naval forces have monitored the DDG-60 destroyer by drones and vessels, according to Tasnim. The IRGC Navy released the photos of the U.S. navy’s USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60) destroyer it has been monitoring in the Strait of Hormuz south of Iran.
The joint transit of the Western commanders in the region was seen as a message to Iran, which is responsible for ensuring security of the Persian Gulf. But the West has deliberately been ignoring the fact that Iran is the dominant force in the region. And this dominance is meant to ensure security and generate deterrence vis-à-vis bullying. For instance, deterrence was the key to making the UK release the Iranian oil tanker it detained in Gibraltar. 

Today, Iran is a naval power which attaches great importance to ensuring freedom of navigation. 

Alfred Mahan, the author of The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783, put the importance of naval power within the context of history, arguing that having a strong navy is the key to dominating the world.

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