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Iran's Guards have 'length and breadth' of Gulf covered

by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Aug 15, 2007
The chief commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday boasted of his elite force's military prowess, saying its missiles and ships had the "length and breadth" of the Gulf under cover.

"We have surface-to-sea missile systems that can cover the length and breadth of the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman," Yahya Rahim Safavi, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards told Iran's international Persian language Jam-e Jam televison channel in an interview.

"No boat or vessel can cross the Persian Gulf without being within the range of our coastal missiles," he warned in the interview, which was reproduced by the semi-official Fars news agency.

Iran's arch enemy the United States has a major naval base in Bahrain while it also has an aircraft carrier patrolling the Gulf waters.

His comments came on the day the United States announced it was planning to blacklist the Revolutionary Guards as a terror group in order to block its assets. However, the remarks appear to have been made before this news broke.

In a clear reference to the United States, Safavi said that following the US-led occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Revolutionary Guards "changed our strategy to one based on confronting extra-regional powers."

"The guards are a major offensive and defensive force. We have advanced technology and we have equipped our troops with the most advanced equipment that can defend our national interests," he said.

Safavi said the Guards naval force had 1,000 high speed boats, while its land forces had field artillery capable of "penetrating US and Israeli tanks."

It can also count on some 12 million members of its volunteer Basij militia, he added.

"We are sure of our defence capabilites but of course we think about peace security and calm of the region. The strategy is a defensive strategy," he added.

Formed after the Islamic revolution in 1979, the Revolutionary Guards remain an elite force that after almost three decades is still seen as the protector of the revolution's ideals.

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Analysis: Iran's soft power pays off
Washington (UPI) Aug 14, 2007
At a time when the United States is widely regarded in the Middle East as a military aggressor and faces plummeting popularity around the world, Iran is taking advantage of the situation to boost its own image and forge closer ties with its neighbors.

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