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Last month, after pirates hijacked an Iranian ship off the coast of Somalia, I speculated on the prospect that Tehran might choose to join the Western-led naval flotilla now patrolling the Gulf of Aden. By signing on to effort, low-level cooperation between US and Iranian ships would be virtually unavoidable, several experts told me, potentially opening the door to a wider detente between the two nations. Well, this morning the BBC reports that the decision has been made:
Iran has sent a warship to the Gulf of Aden to protect its merchant shipping from attacks by Somali pirates, Iranian state media has reported...
Iranian officials said their ships would be prepared to use force against the pirates if necessary.
"After travelling more than 4,000 maritime miles an Iranian warship entered the Gulf of Aden to protect Iranian ships against pirates," said the radio report, but gave no further details.
An unnamed official said the gulf was an international area and that Iran's armed forces would "carry out any decision made by their superiors".