An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander has issued a statement suggesting the possibility of closing the Mediterranean Sea if the United States and its allies persist in what Iran deems as “crimes” in Gaza. The commander, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, made the remarks without specifying the mechanism for such closure, as reported by Iranian media on Saturday.
Iran has been a vocal supporter of Hamas in its conflict with Israel, accusing the United States of endorsing what it describes as Israeli atrocities in Gaza. The region has witnessed weeks of intense bombardment, resulting in the death of thousands and the displacement of a significant portion of the population.
Tasnim quoted Brig. Gen. Naqdi as stating, “They shall soon await the closure of the Mediterranean Sea, (the Strait of) Gibraltar, and other waterways.” However, the statement lacked details on the means Iran would employ to carry out such a closure.
In recent weeks, Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group has targeted merchant vessels navigating the Red Sea in response to Israel’s actions in Gaza. This retaliatory action has prompted some shipping companies to alter their routes. The White House commented on Friday, asserting that Iran played a substantial role in planning operations against commercial vessels in the Red Sea.
Despite Iran lacking direct access to the Mediterranean, Brig. Gen. Naqdi alluded to the concept of “the birth of new powers of resistance and the closure of other waterways.” He emphasized the challenges faced by opponents in the Arabian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting a similar predicament for them in the Red Sea.
Notably, the only groups in the Mediterranean region backed by Iran are Lebanon’s Hezbollah and allied militias in Syria, situated at the far end of the sea from Gibraltar. The ambiguity surrounding the closure threat raises questions about the feasibility and practicality of such a move, given Iran’s geographical constraints.