„In late November 2016, the Chief of Staff of the Iranian armed forces, General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, announced to commanders of the Iranian fleet that Iran may establish naval bases in the future far from its shores, on islands or as floating bases, and that one day it may be possible to have bases on the shores of Yemen or Syria. Baqeri emphasized that expanding the current range of the Iranian naval presence is meant to demonstrate power, strengthen deterrence, and force potential enemies to refrain from entering Iranian waters. He stressed that Iran likewise needs a fleet of ships to protect its interests in the Indian Ocean, similar to its fleet in the Gulf. Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari added that Iran has plans to expand its naval presence in international waters, and that a flotilla of two battleships is now circumnavigating the African continent en route to the Atlantic Ocean in order to demonstrate the power of the Iranian fleet. Iran is also proposing an exchange of visits and joint naval exercises with countries along the coasts of Africa and the Indian Ocean.
The remarks by the Iranian commanders derive primarily from Iran’s fundamental hegemonic aspirations in the Middle East and, in some respects, beyond. The drive toward regional hegemony has been a key target in the Iranian strategy since the days of the Shah, but the current regime has added an Islamic-religious layer to the strategy. Its objective is not necessarily territorial expansion, but rather, to bring about a change in the geostrategic conditions in the region and impact on key processes, while improving Iran’s positioning and minimizing the external threats to its security. Iran’s aim is to spur the regional elements and global powers to take its spheres of interest into consideration. This aspiration is based on its imperialistic history, the sheer size of its population and territory, its religious importance, and its cultural heritage.“ (Efraim Kaim: „Iran: Naval Bases in Syria and in Yemen?“)