A European-led mission for protection of Gulf waters expected to operate soon will be hosted by a French naval base in UAE, France’s defense minister said on Sunday. The decision came in the wake of the subsequent tanker attacks earlier this year in the region which triggered global diplomatic tension.
Gulf of Oman
The US Central Command announced the opening of Coalition Task Force (CTF) Sentinel’s new command center at Naval Support Activity, Bahrain, on November 7. The new coalition aims to “ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waters throughout the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Oman.”
Tasnim, Turkish news agency, reported that Iran is under discussion with Russia and China to launch a joint naval drill in the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean, following the increased tensions in the area. The collaboration between the US, Russia, Iran and China shows the capability of the countries to partner, whereas also presents the ‘political goals’ behind this exercise.
Japan recently announced that it will not follow US’s coalition into sending security vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, amid the tensions in the area. Yet, Yomiuri Shimbun, Japanese newspaper, reported that Japan is thinking of sending a destroyer to operate in nearby areas.
Australian Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, stated to reporters during the annual US-Australian security talks in Sydney, that the US request, to join in the coalition to protect the vessels that sail in the Strait of Hormuz, is seriously taken under consideration.
As the Iranian military published through its Facebook account, Iran seized another a foreign oil tanker in the Gulf, stating that the seized vessel was smuggling fuel. Thus, the military detained seven crewmen. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard seized the foreign vessel, supporting that it was transmitting 700,000 litres of oil to ‘some Arab countries in the Persian Gulf.’
Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management released an announcement demanding to be granted access to the vessel ‘Stena Impero’ to conduct a full assessment. However, they are still waiting for a response from Iranian authorities. They also stated that there is no current evidence the ship has breached any maritime rules or regulations, and they supported ‘the professionalism and conduct of the crew of the Stena Impero.’
The International Bargaining Forum has started discussions on vessels transiting through the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz. The discussions follow 10 weeks of increased aggression against merchant ships in the area, which peaked with the seizure of the Stena Impero on 19 July.
France, Italy and Denmark are supporting an UK plan for a European-led naval mission to ensure safe transits through the Strait of Hormuz, after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker, according to three senior EU diplomats. Except for this idea, British foreign ministry and defense officials have also discussed about a possible mission, which would involve not just ships but aircrafts too.
According to the Farsnews, Iranian news agency, the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, commented that Iran is the ‘guardian of security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz’, adding that the regional issues will be solved through discussions amongst neighbors.
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