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UAE and Saudi Arabia join naval force to secure Gulf navigation

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have joined a US-led naval force to secure shipping in the Gulf region, a move that comes amid mounting tension with Iran, which is accused by Washington of attacking Aramco’s oil facilities.

The United States launched the idea of ​​establishing the international naval force in June following attacks on several cargo ships and oil tankers in the Gulf region.

“The UAE has decided to join the International Alliance for the Safety and Protection of Maritime Navigation and ensure the safety of sea lanes,” the UAE Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The Saudi Ministry of Defense issued a similar statement on Wednesday, stressing that its participation in the naval force aims to “support regional and international efforts to deter and counter the threats of maritime navigation and global trade.”

Washington is seeking to form an international alliance to keep up with merchant ships in the Gulf, but it has apparently not been able to attract many countries, especially since many of its allies are wary of dragging them into open conflict in the region, where a third of the world’s seaborne oil passes.

The Europeans rejected the offer because they did not want to take part in US President Donald Trump’s policy of exerting “extreme pressure” on Iran, and were trying to keep the deal on Iran’s nuclear program from which Trump withdrew last year.

Washington’s idea is that each country should keep up with its commercial ships with support from the US military, which provides air surveillance and command operations.

Tensions have been rising in the region since Trump withdrew in May 2018 from the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic as part of its “extreme pressure” campaign.

Iran responded to Trump’s move by suspending the implementation of some of its obligations in the deal.

The situation has spiraled out of control in recent months with attacks on cargo ships in the Gulf region, the downing of a US drone by Iran, and the seizure of oil tankers.

Tensions hit unprecedented levels on Saturday as the world’s largest oil processing plant at Abqaiq and the Khurais oilfield in eastern Saudi Arabia came under attack, cutting Saudi production.

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