IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri

IRGC Navy Establishes Shadow Basij Navy

Tuesday, 12/19/2023

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy has established a voluntary unit with scope to carry out marine military operations, according to a top commander.

Local sailors will be allowed to carry out missions on vessels armed with rockets, according to IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, who said the naval Basij has been organized after the successful formation of the maritime Basij in the Persian Gulf.

According to local reports, he said the maritime Basij in the Persian Gulf includes 55,000 voluntary forces with 33,000 vessels, noting that the second phase will be established in the Caspian Sea.

Tangsiri said the naval Basij involves large boats and launches that can sail as far as Tanzania. The shadow navy will have a presence in a series of coastal villages in southern Iran which have been equipped with military vessels.

“The Basij forces use those vessels that are furnished with weapons such as 107mm rockets, and fire them when necessary,” he said.

The revelations come against the backdrop of heightened tensions prompted by attacks on commercial shipping off the coast of Yemen, attributed to Iran-backed Houthis. Simultaneously, Washington is considering reinforcing measures to protect shipping in the Red Sea, where the Yemeni Houthis, with support from Iran, have targeted vessels in recent weeks.

Despite steering clear of direct military involvement in the Israel-Hamas conflict, Iran has leveraged allies such as the Houthis and militant groups in Iraq and Syria to target both Israel and American interests in the region.

Criticism has been directed at the Biden administration for perceived shortcomings in deterring Iran and its proxies in the Middle East, Iran's involvement in the seizure and harassment of vessels forcing the United States to bolster its military presence in the region.


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