Reuters news agency is reporting that Iran's independent saber rattling Revolutionary Guards is poised to provide military escort to cargo ships trying to break Israel's blockade to Gaza.
It quotes Ali Shirazi, a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Guard's "naval forces are fully prepared to escort the peace and freedom convoys to Gaza with all their powers and capabilities."
Shirazi was quoted Sunday in what Reuters described as the semi-official Mehr news agency. Such an intervention would be considered highly provocative by Israel which accuses Iran of supplying arms to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The two-year blockade with Egypt has been a firestorm since last weekend when Israeli commandos dropped by rope from helicopters were ambushed by passengers on the Mavi Marmara.and nine activists aboard ship were killed. Another ship was boarded Saturday and escorted to an Israeli port without incident.
"If the Supreme Leader issues an order for this then the Revolutionary Guard
naval forces will do their best to secure the ships," Shirazi said. "It is Iran's duty to defend the innocent people of Gaza."
Israel allows humanitarian aid to the 1.5 million mostly Palestinian refugees in Gaza by road after inspecting the cargo for arms at Israeli ports.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will continue to stop ships reaching the shore and creating "an Iranian port in Gaza," a reference to Iran's support for Hamas.
It is unknown if Iran's mullahs are bluffing or prepared to take advantage of a diplomatic crisis.
Turkey had threatened to send its warships to the blockade after last Sunday's incident but has backed off as diplomats between the two countries frantically try to repair their frazzled relationship which until last weekend had been considered positive and beneficial to both sides.
The U.S. has a sizable Navy fleet in the Persian Gulf and is monitoring Revolutionary Guard gunboats constantly and would be aware if the Guard dispatched its ships to join future flotillas headed from Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea.
The Revolutionary Guard threat places added pressure for removing the blockade on not only Israel but the Obama administration as Israel's ally in the region.
I think Iran is bluffing. They are forcing the U.S. into a confrontation it does not want and knows it will lose as a military excursion.. The ruling mullahs must believe it is a win-win situation to gain world attention if not sympathy as the controlling power force in the Middle East. It forces the Obama administration to fully commit to Israel in backing the blockade, a move Iran believes the U.S. is reluctant to take. It's the latest move in a game of chicken played as a chess match. Terrific.