Netanyahu: Iran 'Preventing Democratic Reform'

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran on Tuesday for escalating tensions in the Middle East. His statement came on the same day two Iranian warships passed through the Suez Canal en route to Syria.

Netanyahu said Iran is trying to take advantage of the turmoil spreading throughout the region.

"Iran seeks to exploit the earthquake that is now possessing the great swath of earth from Afghanistan to the Maghreb," Netanyahu said. "It is seeking to bring down democratic reform. It is seeking to prevent it. It is seeking to shut down the lights and create another era of darkness like the one we have in Tehran."

Israeli intelligence services said they were "closely monitoring" the two Iranian warships. While they pose no serious military threat to Israel, they represent a symbolic statement by Iran and signal a profound change in the Middle East.

"The crossing of these ships through the Suez canal shows us that we are dealing with a new Middle East," said Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian analyst. "The old political maps of the Middle East should be folded and put away. New ones should be opened. We are looking at new lines in the map, because of the political earthquakes that we saw in Tunisia and Egypt."

"And it's very likely that the government of Iran will want to continue with such acts in order to embolden its position in the Middle east vis-a-vis groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and also to win much-needed credibility back home on the domestic arena," he added.

Iran said the warships are on their way for a training mission off the coast of Syria. It marked the first time since 1979 that Iranian warships passed through the Suez Canal.

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