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IRGC surfacing in Assab in Eritrea

 By Reza Shafa
On Sunday an opposition leader in Eritrea told AFP that "Iran is using Eritrea as a base to provide weapons to Shi'ite insurgents in Yemen."

"They (rebels) are receiving their arms from Iran through Eritrea," Bashir Eshaq, head of external relations for the opposition Eritrean Democratic Alliance, told AFP in an interview.

"The weapons arrive in Eritrea's coastal towns – mainly Assab, and from then onwards, Huthi rebels smuggle the arms to Yemen at night," he added.

 By Reza Shafa
On Sunday an opposition leader in Eritrea told AFP that "Iran is using Eritrea as a base to provide weapons to Shi'ite insurgents in Yemen."

"They (rebels) are receiving their arms from Iran through Eritrea," Bashir Eshaq, head of external relations for the opposition Eritrean Democratic Alliance, told AFP in an interview.

"The weapons arrive in Eritrea's coastal towns – mainly Assab, and from then onwards, Huthi rebels smuggle the arms to Yemen at night," he added.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its arm the Qods Force had been planning for a long time to use Assab as a foothold in Horn of Africa for its extraterritorial activities mainly to harbor terrorism and use its strategic location to hold hostage any passage through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait.

The strait is situated 3 km from Eritrea and Yemen. The Bab-el-Mandeb strait (“Gate of Tears”), is the closest spot to the Gulf of Aden, which connects the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, and is in fact the passageway for oil tankers and cargo ships in the African and Southwest Asian regions.

Last January in a secret report obtained from the mullahs' regime, some of IRGC's plans for Assab were revealed. The African Affairs branch of the terrorist Qods Force is a branch that implements the regime’s goals of exporting fundamentalism to Africa. One of the targeted countries in northern Africa is Eritrea.

The report said back in early 2009 that in recent weeks, the mullahs’ regime has installed long-range and anti-aircraft missiles, and has deployed a number of members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the outskirts of Eritrea’s Port of Assab near the Red Sea. This initiative by the mullahs takes place in the context of agreements the regime had signed in Asmara with the government of Eritrea.

These forces and equipment have been transferred to the region using the regime’s submarines. The agreement and the deployment of forces and long-range missiles in the Port of Assab have been carried out under the guise of renovating the port’s oil refinery (which is an old facility). The mullahs’ regime is operating there under the cover of refining crude oil in the port’s refinery. It has also crafted phony documents in this regard.

But, the question remains: What does revamping an old refinery have anything to do with the deployment of missiles? This was the question that prompted doubts and suspicions regarding the regime’s actions. Some intelligence sources indicated that by installing military equipment and forces in Eritrea’s Port of Assab, the mullahs’ regime actually intends to exert control over the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, situated 3 km from Eritrea and Yemen. The Bab-el-Mandeb strait (“Gate of Tears”), is the closest spot to the Gulf of Aden, which connects the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, and is in fact the passageway for oil tankers and cargo ships in the African and Southwest Asian regions. As such, this area is of exceptional strategic importance. The regime’s objective is to cause disturbances and sabotage oil tankers of oil-rich countries of the region, such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and African countries, in the event that during a potential military conflict, the Strait of Hormuz is closed off to oil tankers of the Persian Gulf.

This passageway is significant because some African countries like Nigeria, Sudan, Gabon, South Africa, New Guinea, and the vast desert between Angola and Nigeria are very rich in oil, and American oil companies are competing with each other for presence in this area. Some reports estimate that the discovery of oil in recent years has led the US to obtain 25% of its oil from this continent, essentially transported though the Bab-el-Mandeb strait.

Eritrea’s political opposition had previously warned about making deals with the mullahs’ regime and had announced that this act is tantamount to giving a military presence to the regime in a strategic location, which bears significant risks, and is analogous to playing with fire. In addition to the vital significance of this region for the US, the Port of Assab is also close to the French navy base at Djibouti, a place where a large number of NATO soldiers and US fleet are located.

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Reza Shafa is an expert on the Iranian regime's Intelligence networks, both in Iran and abroad. He has done extensive research on Iranian Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS) also known as VEVAK, Intelligence Office of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and Qods Force among others. Currently he is a contributor to NCRI website.

 

 

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