Middle East Digest, March 1, 2023.
Destroyers of the Iranian fleet transit the Panama Canal.
In a dramatic development of international relations, especially with regard to the geopolitical dimension, the Panama Canal Authority announced that it would “allow Iranian warships to pass through its canal provided that it adheres to international standards.”
The commission based its decision on the 1977 international treaty, drafted during the presidency of Omar Torrijos in Panama and Jimmy Carter in the United States, under which it took over management of the canal from the United States of America with the obligation to maintain it in a neutral position.
Iran is a challenge
And the authority announced in a statement that the canal’s position requires that it remain safe and open for peaceful transit, “taking into account the need for ships to adhere to the rules of safe navigation, not to commit hostile acts, and to pay dues.” So the canal authority is obliged to allow the passage of any vessel that meets these conditions and requirements.
This announcement came after the announcement of Iran’s intention to send warships to the Caribbean Sea to cross the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean, and after the announcement by the spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Aghai Shukarji, that Tehran had reached a stage of military and technological progress that allowed it to send satellites to outer space and ships warships to the high seas for the first time in its history.
It also came as Iran celebrates the 44th anniversary of the victory of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, to which the United States has been hostile since day one.
These events clearly provoked a negative reaction from Washington, as Iran has already sent oil tankers and merchant ships escorted by warships on several occasions across the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea bound for Venezuela, a country that like Iran suffers from an imposed blockade. by the United States government.
Likewise, Iran’s close relations with Latin American countries hostile to US imperialism, such as Cuba, Bolivia, Argentina, and more recently Brazil, after Lula da Silva was elected president, increased Washington’s resentment and anger.
Many US leaders expressed their anger at the Iranian move, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush, brother of former US President George W. Bush (2001-2009) and son of former US President George Prescott Bush (1989-1993). In an article published in the “Washington Post” newspaper, he expressed concern about the Iranian move, accusing Panama of “helping Tehran circumvent US and Western sanctions” imposed under the pretext of its nuclear file. He stressed that “without Panama’s support, the Iranian Islamic regime will face great obstacles in the marketing of its oil and gas in the world.”
US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said that his country “continues to closely monitor Iran’s maritime activities in the western half of the world,” stressing that “Washington still has a lot of means to hold the Islamic Republic of Iran accountable.
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