JERUSALEM, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- Israel has set up military bases in Eritrea to monitor Iran and other hostile activities in the Red Sea, Stratfor Global Intelligence reported Wednesday.
The U.S.-based strategy consultancy firm quoted "diplomatic sources" as saying that the Israeli military presence is comprised of docks and small naval units in the Dahlak Archipelago and Massawa, and a listening post on Mt. Amba Sawara.
"Israel's presence in Eritrea is very focused and precise, involving intelligence gathering in the Red Sea and monitoring Iran's activities," Stratfor said.
According to the report, the East African nation has become an arena of operations for both Israel and Iran, with both vying to bolster their influence in the Horn of Africa.
The Israeli operations in the area are believed to mainly focus on tracking Iranian arms smuggling to militants in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. Ships loaded with rockets and other munitions travel through the Red Sea to Sudan and Egypt, from where the cargo is then transferred via land routes to Gaza or placed on ships bound for Syria and Lebanon.
The Israel Air Force has reportedly attacked arms convoys in Sudan several times in the past, and is widely credited with the October bombing of the Yarmouk munitions plant near the Sudanese capital of Khartoum where Iran had presumably planned to set up a workshop for manufacturing long-range missiles.
Though Israel kept mum on the affair, an Israeli official told The Sunday Times last month that Iran has built a "strategic arm" in Gaza.
"Regardless of the ceasefire agreement (with Hamas), we will attack and destroy any shipment of arms to Gaza," he said.
According to Stratfor, in addition to Israel, Eritrea accommodates Iranian military operations "relevant to Tehran's larger goal of controlling the Bab el-Mandab Strait and the water route to the Suez Canal."
"In exchange for resources, possibly including modest amounts of cash and weapons, Eritrea has exhibited a willingness to become a base of support for Middle Eastern powers," the report analyzes Asmara's decision to nurture relations with the two rival nations.
It said Eritrea seeks to befriend Israel for "numerous security and political reasons," such as Israel's "close ties with Washington... and to acquire better air defense capabilities to defend against a possible attack from Ethiopia," as well as " balancing its controversial relationship with Tehran."
Eritrea is not the only base for Israeli military operations abroad.
Earlier this month, The Sunday Times reported that numerous reports over the past year have claimed that Israel is maintaining a military presence in Azerbaijan, where it deploys unmanned Predator drones to preemptively strike Iranian missile sites in the event of a war.
According to other reports, Israel has purchased an abandoned airfield in the country from which it could launch a strike on Tehran's nuclear facilities.