United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Israel and U.S. forces in the first joint naval exercise
DUBAI, Nov. 11 (Reuters) – Forces of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Israel and the United States Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) began a multilateral maritime security operations exercise in the Red Sea on Wednesday , NAVCENT announced Thursday.
This is the first publicly recognized naval exercise between the United States, Israel and the two Gulf countries.
An Israeli navy officer, briefing reporters in Israel on the exercise, said that the start of such military cooperation under US auspices could help counter Iran’s “projection of power” in the United States. the region.
Last year, the UAE and Bahrain normalized diplomatic relations with Israel under a US-brokered deal known as the Abraham Accords, brought together by shared concerns over the Iran and hopes for economic gains.
Negotiations between Iran and the major powers on the relaunch of a 2015 nuclear deal resume in Vienna on November 29, with failure risking a sharp rise in regional tensions.
The five-day exercise includes training on the USS Portland ship and “will improve interoperability between participating forces maritime interdiction teams,” according to a US statement.
“Maritime collaboration helps protect the freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade, which are essential to regional security and stability,” said Vice-Admiral Brad Cooper, Commander NAVCENT, U.S. 5th Fleet and combined maritime forces.
In Israel, the Israeli naval officer, whose rank and name could not be released under the terms of the briefing, cited an attack in July, which world powers and Israel blamed on Iran, which killed two people aboard a commercial vessel off the coast of Oman.
Iran has denied any involvement in what Israel described as a drone strike on the Liberian-flagged tanker Mercer Street operated by an Israeli company.
The exercise, the officer said, “will increase cooperation and security in the Red Sea, but not just the Red Sea, as we are dealing with Iranian terror” throughout the region.
The US 5th Fleet is based in the island state of the Gulf of Bahrain and operates in the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.
Reporting by Lisa Barrington and Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Alison Williams, Andrei Khalip and Andrea Ricci
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