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In subtle show of force to Iran, US, Israeli, Emirati and Bahraini navies hold first joint drill

Air forces of the four countries also considering a drill in the face of growing Iranian threat

Israeli Navy holds joint security patrol with US 5th fleet (Photo: IDF Spokesperson Unit)

The United States, Israel, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain navies are holding a major multi-national naval exercise in the Red Sea in a subtle show of regional strength to Iran. 

The air forces of these nations may follow suit with a historic joint drill of their own.

While the Israeli navy has held multiple exercises with its American counterpart, the current multinational security exercise is the first time that Emirati, Bahraini and Israeli navies worked together in such a drill. The exercises include "at-sea training focused on search and seizure tactics aboard the USS Portland transport dock ship."

The extensive operation is a message to the Iranian regime, which seeks to dominate and destabilize large parts of the Middle East. During the past year, Iran has stepped up its attacks on commercial ships from Israel and other countries in the Middle Eastern water lanes. In early August, Iranian drones attacked the Israeli-managed civilian ship Mercer, killing its Romanian captain and a British crew member. 

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior Israeli navy officer told reporters on Thursday that the Iranian regime constitutes a common strategic naval threat in the Middle East region. 

“This [Iranian] presence is something that we need to push back as much as possible from the State of Israel, from the Red Sea, from the areas that harm our freedom to sail… In order to do that, we need to make our partnerships tighter,” the IDF officer said

U.S. Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of the NAVCENT, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, stressed the importance of the joint exercises with the navies of Israel, the UAE and Bahrain. 

“It is exciting to see U.S. forces training with regional partners to enhance our collective maritime security capabilities. Maritime collaboration helps safeguard freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade, which are essential to regional security and stability,” Cooper said. 

Following the historic Arab-Israeli Abraham peace Accords in late 2020, Israel was recently formally transferred from the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) to the The United States Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for U.S. military operations in the Middle East region. In practice, the organizational transfer will greatly facilitate military cooperation between Israel and its regional Arab allies like the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. 

For its part, The Iranian regime has not been resting on its laurels. In August, the Russian Ambassador to Iran Levan Dzhagaryan, announced that the navies of Russia, China and Iran would hold joint naval exercises in the Persian Gulf in late 2021 or early 2022. While the exercise is officially focusing on the threat of sea piracy, it is clearly a message to Israel and the moderate Sunni Arab states that Iran enjoys close relations with China and Russia. 

And Tehran continues issuing threats against the Jewish state. Addressing a ceremony in the capital Tehran, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a senior Iranian commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, warned that Israel would be “doomed to termination” if it initiated a war with Iran. Hajizadeh reportedly mocked the Jewish state’s existential concerns by saying that it is the “only regime in the world arguing about how to survive,” according to the Iranian news agency Tasnim. 

“The (Zionist) regime that discusses its existence is doomed to termination and cannot talk about destroying other countries,” Hajizadeh reportedly said. 

Iranian leaders repeatedly threatened to wipe the Jewish state off the map while simultaneously seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. 

Meanwhile on Saturday, Lt. Gen. Gregory Guillot – the top U.S. Air Force general in the Middle East – said it is possible a joint air drill would take place as well with the same countries.

“The collaborative defense of multiple countries, you know, in the region is going to be our key to detecting those and staying one step ahead of the threat as it evolves,” he said.

Last week, for the second time in a month, Israeli F-15 fighter jets escorted American B-1 bombers through the region, in a veiled threat to Iran, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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