Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency
The Alborz destroyer, Iranian Navy

The Iranian Navy warship Alborz entered the Red Sea on Monday (Jan. 1), according to a report by the semi-official Iranian Tasnim News Agency’s English language website.

The deployment of the destroyer, part of the Iranian Navy’s 94th flotilla, was allegedly inspired by a November 2022 statement by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressing the need for Iran to “bolster and maintain its presence in international waters,” according to the report.


Khamenei, who made the statement during a meeting with Iranian Navy commanders and related officials, emphasized at the time the need for Iran’s Navy to “boost its combat capabilities and defense equipment and to continue navigation in remote and international waters,” the news outlet reported.

On the news outlet’s Persian language website, however, Tasnim had a different explanation, reporting that the Alborz was deployed to “secure shipping lines and fight against pirates and other missions.”

In addition, the news outlet reported, “Following rising tensions in the Gaza war, there has been an acceleration in developments in the Gulf of Aden and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.”

That’s a bit rich, considering that it is the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen who are acting as pirates and attempting to attack and hijack commercial vessels transiting the Red Sea and Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a waterway essential to about 12 percent of global trade.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met in Tehran with Houthi spokesperson and chief negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam on Monday, according to the Iranian Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), which reported that Abdollahian thanked the Houthis for their “strong and authoritative position in support of the oppressed people of Palestine.”

The Houthis, who began their attacks in the Red Sea at the start of the October 7th war against Israel by Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization, have since attacked nearly two dozen vessels since then. They also announced several weeks ago they will not allow any foreign ships — especially those traveling to and from Israel — to pass through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

A multinational maritime task force headed by the United States that began patrolling the Red Sea last month stopped, but failed to prevent, a Houthi attack this past weekend on a MAERSK cargo vessel.

The Houthis fired a ballistic missile at the MAERSK HANGZHOU and then swarmed the ship with small boats in an attempt to board and hijack the vessel approximately 55 nautical miles southwest of Hodeidah, Yemen.

According to a statement from MAERSK to the Offshore Energy news outlet, the incident took place after MAERSK Hangzhou had passed through the Bab al-Mandab Strait en route from Singapore to Port Suez, Egypt.

“A contract embarked security team on the MAERSK HANZGHOU returned fire. U.S. helicopters from the USS EISENHOWER (CVN 69) and GRAVELY (DDG 107) responded to the distress call and in the process of issuing verbal calls to the small boats, the small boats fired upon the US helicopters with crew served weapons and small arms,” US CENTCOM said in a statement.

“The US Navy helicopters returned fire in self-defense, sinking three of the four small boats, and killing the crews. The fourth boat fled the area. There was no damage to US personnel or equipment.”

At least 10 Houthis died in the attempted hijacking.

“In light of the incident – and to allow time to investigate the details of the incident and assess the security situation further – it has been decided to delay all transits through the area for the next 48 hours,” MAERSK added.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.