By Brian Murphy
The Washington Post - October 28, 2014
Last month, visitors to Bandar Abbas on Iran’s southern coast gathered to witness a never-seen-before event: two Chinese warships pulling into port. It could be just the start of a budding naval alliance stretching from the Pacific to the Persian Gulf. Iranian and Chinese commanders last week announced plans for greater maritime cooperation. While the details are vague, it clearly touches ambitions on both sides: Expanding the reach of their warships into faraway seas and new ports of call. And, at the same time, giving a jab at the United States and its preeminent naval power. For China, the Iranian naval alliance offers a convenient way-station for Beijing’s widening outreach in Africa, and another bonding moment in the largely transactional ties between China and Iran. China needs Iran’s oil and gas, and Iran is happy to oblige to help offset Western-led sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear program.