The international diplomatic and military crisis sparked by Iran’s decision to send an “aid” vessel directly to Yemen–along with an escort of warships–rather than to the international coordinating point in Djibouti was the latest escalation in Iran’s attempt to assert its new dominance as a regional power. Notably, Iran’s tactics mirror those used by Palestinian activists, backed by Turkey, in the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, when an Islamist “aid” ship challenged the Israeli navy off Gaza.
The “Gaza flotilla,” as it became known, consisted of six ships, including journalists, peace activists, anti-Israel organizers and Islamist radicals. The flotilla sailed from Turkey in an effort to break through an Israeli naval perimeter that had been set up to prevent the smuggling of weapons and other materials that could be used in terror operations. (Humanitarian aid was, and is, sent to Gaza by truck, after inspection by Israeli officials. Egypt imposes similar restrictions on Gaza trade.)
While five of six ships surrendered to the Israeli navy without incident, the sixth resisted violently, attacking and seizing Israeli naval commandoes. In the ensuing fight, nine activists were killed. The incident was a clear provocation by Turkey’s increasingly radical Islamist government, and sought to undermine Israel’s defenses against terror from the Hamas regime in Gaza. But President Barack Obama forced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize, humiliatingly.
Now, the Iranian regime is using the Mavi Marmara precedent, claiming that its ship “is carrying food, medicine, tents, blankets, reporters, rescue workers and peace activists,” according to Politico and other sources. If so, Iran is violating international law by using civilians for a military purpose. It has since agreed to submit the ship to UN inspections. Regardless, Iran is using tactics once used against Israel to target the U.S.–and used Obama’s position against America.