An Iranian Naval Base in Syria? – TTG

Damascus-trip-july-2010-172     Sinatra.001

Elijah J. Magnier wrote an excellent review of the Syrian situation in his piece, "The roles of the US, Russia, Turkey, Iran and Israel in Syria: moving towards the end of the war." I heartedly recommend it. Within that piece is the following passage.


“Today, it is obvious that the Iranian strategy prevailed over that of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Syria and managed to sustain a friendly government in Syria. Iran is also playing a positive role in the rapprochement between Baghdad and Damascus, resulting in military collaboration and the air bombing of ISIS targets by the Iraqi Air Force in Syria.

Moreover, there is an on-going discussion between Damascus and Tehran for the construction of an Iranian naval base in the oil terminal port of Banias, 55 km from Latakia. If realized (it may take few years before it becomes operational) it will boost the crippled Syrian economy. Throughout the years of war, Iran has been supplying Syria with oil, mainly when the jihadists of ISIS and Al-Qaeda controlled the northern eastern oil fields.”  (


I seriously doubt this proposed Iranian port facility will be anything like the Russian facility at Tartus. The Russians signed an agreement with Damascus in January to give Russia sovereignty over their port facilities at Tartus for 49 years. This sounds a lot like the old agreement with Ukraine over Sevastopol. They plan on dredging the port and constructing floating docks to berth eleven ships. That will be quite a base. The port facility at Banias will necessarily be much smaller, but I wonder if that agreement will be on the same terms as the Tartus agreement.

Only two days ago, The Fars News Agency reported that the IRGC Deputy Commander for political affairs Brigadier General Rasul Sanayee Rad denied Iran had any plans for a naval port facility at Banias. He was quoted as saying, “Our presence in Syria consists in the presence of military advisers at the request of the Syrian government. We do not plan to create a military base in the Syrian province of Latakia. Such an atmosphere is being formed to destabilize the situation in the region and create disagreements between countries.” Perhaps the Brigadier General left himself some wiggle room in denying the creation of a military base rather than a port facility.

The Israelis certainly believe the rumors of an Iranian naval base at Banias. Seems this was the prime reason for Netanyahu’s recent pilgrimage to Moscow on 9 March to talk with Putin. Netanyahu took his head of military intelligence, Major General Herzi Halevi, with him to help get his message across.


"In a meeting with Putin in Moscow, Netanyahu said Persia had made “an attempt to destroy the Jewish people that did not succeed” some 2,500 years ago, an event commemorated through the Jewish holiday of Purim, which Israel will celebrate starting Saturday night and lasting in some places until Monday.

“Today there is an attempt by Persia’s heir, Iran, to destroy the state of the Jews,” Netanyahu said. “They say this as clearly as possible and inscribe it on their ballistic missiles.”

Adopting a conciliatory tone, Putin said that the events described by Netanyahu had taken place “in the fifth century BCE.”

“We now live in a different world. Let us talk about that now,” Putin said."  (Times of Israel)


I seriously doubt Bibi’s silver tongue made much of an impression on Vladimir Vladimirovich. This is a far different world today than it was in the fifth century BC… or for that matter, a far different world than it was a year ago. Bibi should be quivering in his boots at the prospects of what his world will look like a year or two from now. I get the feeling Putin left Netanyahu with the same stark message that Walter White gave his wife.

“I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger! A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!”


My thanks to Mathew and BraveNewWorld for pointing out this news in comments they made earlier today. And my thanks to the chairman of the board for that fine song. For some reason the thought of an Iranian port on the Mediterranean just brought that song to mind.


This entry was posted in Iran, Israel, Russia, Syria, TTG. Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to An Iranian Naval Base in Syria? – TTG

  1. kooshy says:

    TTG, IMO an Iranian Port not even a military base is impossible, to maintain such a port Iran military ships need to pas through suez canal, a sunni canal, that will not happen, last time such a thing happened was when Morsi was president of Egypt. ON Nutywho’ misinformation on jews history with iran, Iran’s FM zarif, strongly replied here is what he said:
    “To sell bigoted lies against a nation which has saved Jews 3 times, Netanyahu resorting to fake history and falsifying Torah. Force of habit,” Zarif tweeted on Sunday.
    “Once again Benjamin Netanyahu not only distorts the realities of today, but also distorts the past — including Jewish scripture. It is truly regrettable that bigotry gets to the point of making allegations against an entire nation which has saved Jews three times in its history,” the chief diplomat noted.
    He added, “The Book of Esther tells of how Xerxes I saved Jews from a plot hatched by Haman the Agagite, which is marked on this very day; again, during the time of Cyrus the Great, an Iranian king saved the Jews — this time from captivity in Babylon; and during the Second World War, when Jews were being slaughtered in Europe, Iran gladly took them in.”

  2. eakens says:

    Perhaps in a few years, Iran will be trading access to the Suez for access through the Mandeb if SA keeps up with its brute force mentality.

  3. LeaNder says:

    Yes, without doubt Elijah Magnier always stands out with his reports. This is a lot more thorough then earlier ones that caught my attention.
    Definitively worth reading!

  4. MRW says:

    during the Second World War, when Jews were being slaughtered in Europe, Iran gladly took them in.
    I remember seeing a documentary about that 10 or 15 years ago.
    The oldest permanent Jewish cemetery (in use today for over 3,000 years) in the world is in Iran.
    Netanyahu is a self-righteous drama queen: every Jew is in danger, every Jew is entitled to more consideration than anyone else, every Jew insists their verkakte myths supersede solid historical truth and if you question or correct them, as Zarif did, Jews get to out a target on your back. Good for Putin. Netanyahu needed his head read. Does he have no sense of how the memories of the immense losses Russians endured in WWII are still ripe in every Russian’s head? Did he not see Putin walking arm-in-arm with fellow Russians through the streets–in the millions–two or three years ago on the anniversary of the end of war carrying his father’s photo? It was a national day of mourning not a celebration. (I forget the name of that day. It was in May.)
    By the way, listen to this excellent radio show last Tuesday night on the John Batchelor show with Stephen Cohen, the Russian professor emeritus and analyst. Those of you who aren’t Rachel Maddow fans or are fed up with Mika Brzezinski’s mewling should enjoy it for shits and grins. Cohen’s wife owns The Nation, she’s publisher and editor-in-chief. Cohen’s support of trump’s foreign policy statements during the election pissed off his family, but it’s only made Cohen louder.

  5. Yeah, Right says:

    Kooshy, I believe that the Convention of Constantinople still regulates passage through the Suez Canal, which means that the Egyptian government must allow safe passage through the canal for any warship, regardless of its nationality.
    Iran can be at war with Anyone But Egypt and that treaty will still require Egypt to grant safe passage to an Iranian warship.
    If Egypt is at war – With Anyone, It Doesn’t Have To Be Iran – then the Egyptian government can block Iranian warships from passing through but, hey, last time I looked Egypt wasn’t at war.
    Some people might argue that treaties are for sissies, but that convention has held since 1882 and Sisi is unlikely to tear it up no matter how Sunni he is feeling.

  6. If one were a seer where would the nation-states discussed in the post and comments stand with respect to what was once Syria at the end of the current century? And the KURDS?
    What is the major U.S. Naval base in the MED?

  7. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think the Books of Daniel and Esther are romances and not historical documents.
    But Benjamin Netanyahu is demonstrating again and again the central validity of the point that I have been making; we are in a multi-religion war with no end in sight.
    A few more years of this and we would see the war spread to India as well; given the antipathies there, it is just a matter of time.

  8. Haralambos says:

    I am not an expert, but I believe it is Souda Bay:

  9. MRW,
    That march you speak of is the Immortal Regiment march that takes place on Victory Day. It follows the always triumphant Victory Day parade. Marchers carry portraits of their relatives who died fighting in the Great Patriotic War or have fought and since died. The marches take place all over Russia and in many other countries.

  10. kooshy,
    Given the strength of the Iranian Navy and the IRGC Navy, this proposed naval base will never be a serious military threat to Israel, but its symbology will be immense. It will be a constant reminder of the permanence of the Iranian-Syrian relationship.

  11. Richard Rendell says:

    What about North Korea ?

  12. scott s. says:

    Naples is the major base, but from an actual ship support viewpoint, probably Rota Spain. Otherwise mainly use NATO assets such as Souda Bay Crete and Catania (and Sigonella) Sicily. We used to have a sub base with a tender at Sardinia, but that was closed years ago.

  13. fredko says:

    On the other “note” you might enjoy these versions:

  14. The Porkchop Express says:

    A bit off topic, but would you mind if I posted a request about a couple of stories from Syria and Iraq? A journo friend is looking for people (on, off record or on background) for a few interesting stories. Thought someone here may have insight.

  15. different clue says:

    This is a good point. If one is to take the Book of Esther as history and analyze it in its own internal terms, it was not “Persia” which plotted to kill off the Jews of the Persian Empire. It was a particular named Emperor’s Counselor named Haman (and all his assistants no doubt) who plotted to do that.
    Saying that “Persia” plotted to kill the Jews is like saying that the Hebrew Slaves built the Pyramids of Egypt. And Menahem Begin is quoted as having said that once somewhere. I wish I could remember where.
    The Revisionists set a very deep truth-decay process into motion when they had their elements within Shin Bet and elsewhere engineer and perform the Rabin Assassination.

  16. kooshy says:

    Nobody comes even close to COB

  17. The Beaver says:

    @ different clue
    Amihai Mazar, professor at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, says that myth stemmed from an erroneous claim by the former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, on a visit to Egypt in 1977, that Jews built the pyramids.
    “No Jews built the pyramids because Jews didn’t exist at the period when the pyramids were built,” Mazar said.

    As far as Haman is concerned, he was a descendant of Agag, the king of the Amalekites from Negev

  18. Thirdeye says:

    The main problem I see with the Iranian naval base in Syria theory is that it simply doesn’t make sense from the standpoint of Iranian interests.

  19. MRW says:

    It was very moving.

  20. kooshy and fredko,
    I just realized it was Bobby Darin in that recording I pointed to and not Sinatra. I knew it was a Darin song, but I was so excited when I thought I found a Sinatra rendition. It’s still a damned fine recording of a damned fine song.

  21. Thirdeye,
    Maybe not from a military point of view, but it would be a symbol of the permanency of the relationship between Teheran and Damascus. It would also be one more thing for Israel to think about whenever they start feeling froggy.

  22. kooshy says:

    TTG, I like Bobby Darin, but he is no Sinatra, nobody comes close to him, old days I had a pleasure of seeing Sinatra live in Vegas. That good of music and entertainment not there anymore.

  23. MRW says:

    If I were asked to name the three people I could have with me as the last four survivors on earth, Ambassador Freeman would be one of the three. He has always had a way of saying more directly, more elegantly, but more succinctly what I have been realizing and thinking. When Obama didn’t have the strength of character, or judgment, in February 2009 to resist the pro-Israeli crowd who went nuts at the idea of Chas Freeman being head of Obama’s National Security Council, I knew we were doomed, and that I had duped myself and been a fool to think Obama had anything to offer.
    Freeman sees and accepts what few do: clear-eyed responsibility.
    Something Netanyahu could never do, because he’s not a statesman, and has no sense of history, consequence, or understanding of how what he represents has reduced our world because it’s substandard and insufficient.

  24. johnf says:

    O/T. In case no one has seen this lead story on the BBC:
    “Britain’s GCHQ agency denies wiretapping Donald Trump”
    Don’t believe any story until its been officially denied, as someone once said.

  25. Ghostship says:

    But it would always be used as justification for regime change in Syria even though it’s really no threat to anyone. Can you imagine anyone, beyond Rand Paul in Congress complaining if Israel were to attack it or even opposing a bill to order further U.S. sanctions up to and including an attack on Syria because of it. I can’t

  26. Matthew says:

    TTG: Taking away Israel’s blank check is a worthwhile end in itself.
    For starters: I hope Russia sells a Lebanon a real air defense system.

  27. Matthew says:

    johnf: Should be amused or saddened that so-called serious people now routinely cite statements by “intelligence officials” as gospel?

  28. “Fiends” keep telling me over 100 subs of all classes, mostly diesel, deployed in MED?
    Is this accurate?
    What is the deepest depth of the MED?
    Pillars of Hercules about 90 feet?

  29. William R. Cumming,
    I think it’s quite possible that there are 100 subs in the Mediterranean. Obviously they would be smaller diesel-electric coastal subs or mini subs. The Iranians are building a small fleet of their Ghadir class mini subs for use in the even shallower Persian Gulf. They have 21 so far. If they put a squadron of those in a Syrian port, the threat would be real enough to require Israel to address it. Here’s an Iranian propaganda piece on the Ghadir class complete with ominous martial music.–y8F6vYUU

  30. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think all Iran needs to do is to set up a camp withe a few tents on the Syrian shore, with 3 fast boats.
    US Navy would commit a couple of destroyers to the Iranian threat; joined by the navies of UK, France, Denmark, Italy, Holland, Germany, Poland and others.
    By the way, Iranians seems to have mastered a goal set by US Navy for more than a decade – which US Nay has not yet reached – which is to use COTS.
    Did you notice the plywood panels?

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Russian Federation could supply Iran with incentives; please see my reply to TTG below.

  32. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I would hope one of the last four would be a very young Sofia Loren – Viva Italia!

  33. Babak,
    Yes, I noticed that. Looks like they outfitted that sub from West Marine. And you’re right about the minimal effort the Iranians would have to expend to get the West into a tizzie.

  34. turcopolier says:

    the Porkchop Express
    Yes. I do object. This is not a clearing house for journalists. pl

  35. different clue says:

    The Beaver,
    I thought I remember that Begin said that. I wonder what he ever based that on, given that there is zero any such claim or report in any Jewish scripture or other writing or tradition.
    Present day people sometimes have a hard time grasping how ancient Egypt is and how long the timelines are. I read a few years ago, and it may still be true, that the actual timeline span of years between the Great Pyramids and King Tutankamen is longer than the actual timeline span of years between the Time of Christ and today.

  36. The Porkchop Express says:

    Duly noted. Won’t ask again.

  37. Thanks TTG! And Israeli subs all German built?

  38. William R. Cumming,
    Yes, Israel has five very capable, German built diesel-electric Dolphin class subs.

  39. Kooshy says:

    IMO, beside the Arab puppet rulers , and Iranian opposition groups, there are few different group of westerners who also hope, think and want to use Iran for their own internal or foreign policy problems. One is obviously Russians for last couple centuries, when possible they use Iran’ provactive or provocations to bargain with west. Second a is a group of western nationalist/ citizens that they justifiably feel their governments are highjacked by their own Israeli supporters and they have no hope to overcome that unless if they can prove Israel is too politicly/ security costly to maintain. IMO, this is a wishful thinking on part of all these different groups, wishing Iran to provoke US in a way that she feels obliged to defend Israel, or territorial integrity of her other allies. IMO, as before, Iran will provoke US, when and just enough to get the US to negotiate on as equally level ground as she can get . IMO,as they have historically mastered, they will use balancing of powers for their own end, and will not let to be used for others’ strategic or tactical aims. A port in Mediterranean Sea is more provocative to US than it would be to Israel, IMO, they well know, when they should to hold, and when is time to fold it.

  40. dude says:

    Iran should built that base, just to let Israel, KSA and those small Arab countries in Persian Gulf know that it doesn’t matter who is ruling in Iran, Iran is the most important country in that part of the world. Iran is making its presence in central America, northern Africa, you think they’ll seat quiet in their neck of the woods? Don’t believe a word out of that general.

  41. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Balance of Power politics failed the Qajars and later failed Mossadeq.
    I do not think is applicable now as all the extant empires of the last 100 years are gone.
    Iranian leaders seem to have modeled themselves on US leaders, expanding their influence in other countries in search of security.

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Paid as zakat of the Cult of Shoah by Germany

  43. confusedponderer says:

    The italians bought German type 212 sumbarines with a fuel cells AIP system. The AIP allowed a type 212 to cover 1,500 nautical miles (2,800 km; 1,700 mi) without surfacing or snorkelling.
    The type 212 are remarkable little ships – quiet boats, well hearing and hard hitting.
    I read of a type 212 in 2013 sneaking undetected upon a US aircraft carier in an exercise, even though the carrier was protected by its escorts. Not well enough it seems.
    Detinitely the story is something the boat and its captain can be proud of.

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