"The fact that Iran wanted to use an Egyptian port to unload the weapons is yet another clear indication that Tehran is trying to take advantage [of] the recent developments in the region, and Egypt in particular," says Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian expert based in Tel Aviv. "To Iran’s leadership, the changes in Egypt have now made it into a new land of strategic opportunities in many areas, including Iran’s support for Hamas."
The ship, which was flying under a Liberian flag, is German-owned and is operated by a French company, Israel said. Israel’s army spokesman released a picture of what it said was weapons crates, but did not immediately provide details about the amount or type of weapons on the ship.
The fall of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak a month ago removed one of Israel’s quiet allies in trying to block Iran’s growing prominence.
In recent days, Saudi Arabia has dispatched troops to Bahrain in an effort to stabilize its island neighbor following democracy demonstrations by the Shiite majority there. Mr. Javedanfar said the Shiite unrest presents Iran with another opportunity to present itself as regional patron.
Even before the turmoil, Israel has watched warily as Iran gained footholds on its borders. Tehran sponsors Hezbollah, which is poised to take a lead role in Lebanon's new government, and has struck up an alliance with Hamas. It also cooperates with Syria.