US-led naval alliance to protect shipping in the Gulf region

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — A US-led naval alliance in Bahrain officially began its mission to protect shipping in the Gulf region from attacks on ships and accused Iran of being behind it.

After months of anticipation since the idea was unveiled in June, the International Maritime Alliance for the Safety and Protection of Maritime Corridors (ICSAP) was born in six countries alongside the United States – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Britain, Australia and Albania.

The United States and Western countries have accused Iran of being behind attacks on oil tankers and ships in the Gulf waters near the strategic Strait of Hormuz since May, when Washington tightened sanctions on Iran’s vital oil sector.

Iran denies the charges, which have pushed the region to the brink of a major military confrontation.

The commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command in the Middle East, Jim Malloy, attended the launch ceremony at the headquarters of the Fifth Fleet in Manama, as well as military officials from participating countries.

Malloy said the goal was to “work together to come up with a common international maritime response” to attacks on ships.

“Our objective is purely defensive (…) and the operational structure is based on the principle of dealing with threats, not threats,” he said, noting that ships would be used as patrols in seawater.

“There is no offensive plan for our efforts, except to commit to defend each other in the event of attacks.”

The naval mission area, dubbed “Sentinel”, will include the waters of the Gulf, through the Strait of Hormuz to the Sea of ​​Oman and to the Bab al-Mandab in the Red Sea.

Washington has striven to form this alliance to keep pace with merchant ships in the Gulf, but it has been unable to attract many countries, especially since many of its allies are wary of dragging them into open conflict in the region, where one-third of the world’s seaborne oil passes.

The Europeans in particular rejected the offer in the hope of maintaining the deal on Iran’s nuclear program, which US President Donald Trump withdrew last year as part of a policy of “extreme pressure” on the Islamic Republic.

Bahrain, the headquarters of the Fifth Fleet, joined the coalition in August, followed by Saudi Arabia after days of missile and drones strikes against Aramco facilities in mid-September adopted by Yemeni rebels, but Washington said Tehran was behind it.


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