Islamabad, Nov 12, (Asia Free Press): The forces from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Israel and the United States Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) began multilateral maritime security operations exercise in the Red Sea on Wednesday, NAVCENT said in a statement.
“Maritime collaboration helps safeguard freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade, which are essential to regional security and stability,” said Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of NAVCENT, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces.
This is the first publicly acknowledged naval exercise between the United States, Israel and the two Gulf countries.
An Israeli naval officer, briefing reporters in Israel on the drill, said the start of such military cooperation under U.S. auspices could help counter Iran’s “power projection” in the region.
The UAE and Bahrain last year normalised diplomatic relations with Israel under a U.S.-brokered deal known as the Abraham Accords, brought together by shared worries about Iran and hopes of economic gains.
The five-day exercise includes training on the USS Portland vessel and will “enhance interoperability between participating forces’ maritime interdiction teams”, a U.S. statement said.
The U.S. 5th Fleet is based in the Gulf island state of Bahrain and operates in the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.