Friday, April 19, 2024

Brazil allows Iranian warships to dock in Rio despite US pressure

The government of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has allowed a flotilla comprised of two Iranian warships to dock in Rio de Janeiro, defying US pressure to bar them.

The Iranian Navy’s Makran and Dena warships, which together form the Islamic Republic’s 86th flotilla of military vessels, berthed in Rio on Sunday, the port authority was quoted by Reuters as saying in a statement.

Vice Admiral Carlos Eduardo Horta Arentz, the deputy chief of Brazil’s Naval Staff, approved the Iranian ships to dock in Rio between February 26 and March 4, following Lula’s recent visit to Washington.

On January 28, Rear Admiral Hamzeh Ali Kaviani, the Iranian Navy’s second-in-command, had said that the vessels were sailing along Latin America’s western shores and were to drop anchor in Rio within a few days.

According to Western media outlets, Brazil had initially delayed docking of the ships as the country’s president was flying to Washington to meet with US President Joe Biden.

Earlier in February, US Ambassador to Brasilia, Elizabeth Bagley, urged Brazil not to allow the ships to dock, saying, “We firmly believe those ships should not dock anywhere.”

However, despite Washington’s calls, the South American country allowed the ships to dock in Rio after Lula ended his trip.

The United States has been very upset with the presence of the Iranian warships on Brazilian shores and elsewhere in Latin America, which Washington considers its backyard.

The 86th flotilla is expected to break the record for the distance an Iranian flotilla has ever sailed in international waters. It set sail from southern Iran in early fall with the purpose of circumnavigating the world.

Its trip to Brazil appears to be part of a mission that is destined to take the flotilla to the Panama Canal.

Earlier in January, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani stated plans were underway to deploy the Islamic Republic’s naval forces to the strategic Panama Canal, as Iranian servicemen were getting closer to South American coasts.

The commander added that Iranian naval forces have been deployed to almost all strategic straits throughout the globe, except for two.

He noted Iranian naval forces will sail into one of those remaining straits this year, while plans are being made for their presence in the Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean and divides North and South Americas.

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