One of two Iranian navy warships arrives to dock at Port Sudan, December 8, 2012.
Reuters

In late November, Iran made an unusual announcement: it said it was planning to build naval bases in Syria and Yemen, which, as a state-run paper later posited, “could be ten times more efficient than nuclear power.” Although Iran has long striven to establish itself as a leading regional power, and naval outposts have been key to reaching that goal, this was the first time Tehran officially declared its intentions to build such bases beyond its own borders.

Bases in Syria and Yemen would be particularly important to Iran. Yemen sits on the strategic shipping route of the Bab el

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