US seeks allies' help to enhance maritime security in Persian Gulf

THE United States aims to boost maritime security in the Persian Gulf by forming a coalition with international partners

27 June 2019 - 19:00

THE United States aims to boost maritime security in the Persian Gulf by forming a coalition with international partners.

Having already met with leaders in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, US special envoy for Iran Brian Hook said one option for improving safety would be to 'enhance' the Combined Maritime Force (CMF), a 33-nation naval partnership that covers 3.2 million square miles of international waters.

The Combined Task Force 150, with a mission to disrupt terroristic organisations and related activities, covers waters that include the Gulf of Oman, the area in which six tankers have been attacked since the beginning of May, and the Strait of Hormuz, American Shipper reported.

'There also could be new initiatives pulling together a number of nations, allied nations who have equities in freedom of navigation so that we can increase maritime security,' Mr Hook said. 'So, in my conversations here, there's a lot of interest in finding a new initiative to enhance maritime security. It's something which we think needs to be internationalised.'

On the same day the Trump administration unveiled new sanctions against Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also held talks with Saudi King Salman bin Adbulaziz Al Saud and Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

He discussed 'the need to promote maritime security' and 'the need to promote freedom of navigation' in the Strait of Hormuz with the leaders during the separate meetings.

The Trump administration's plan for maritime security in the Persian Gulf would involve the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and another 20 countries, according to the Associated Press. The plan would rely on regional allies 'to participate' with their 'military folks,' Mr Pompeo told the crown prince.

A new programme called Sentinel would equip ships travelling through the Strait of Hormuz with cameras and other monitoring devices, The Washington Post reported. Some ships also would be escorted by other vessels.

The Washington Post also reported the Saudis were the first to sign on to the plan and America 'intends to seek material and financial contributions from other allies in the coming weeks'.

Mr Hook said discussions could continue at the G20 Osaka summit. 'Many of those nations who have equities here in freedom of navigation will be present, and Secretary Pompeo will be there, and that will be a good forum to discuss that,' Mr Hook said.

President Donald Trump questioned on Twitter whether America should continue to protect non-US ships in or near the Strait of Hormuz.

'China gets 91 per cent of its oil from the Straight [sic], Japan 62 per cent, and many other countries likewise. So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation,' he tweeted. 'All of these countries should be protecting their own ships on what has always been a dangerous journey.'


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