UAE joins US-led coalition to protect Mideast waterways

The Saudi oil installation attack Saturday has further heightened Mideast tensions. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 September 2019

UAE joins US-led coalition to protect Mideast waterways

  • Creation of a maritime security force is to safeguard trade and flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz
  • The US formed the coalition after attacks on oil tankers that American officials blame on Iran

DUBAI:  The UAE followed Saudi Arabia on Thursday in joining a US-led force to protect Gulf shipping as tensions with Iran soared following twin attacks on key Saudi oil facilities.

The US has pushed for the creation of the International Maritime Security Construct to safeguard trade and the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz.

Saudi Arabia joined the coalition on Wednesday. It has so far been joined by Australia and Britain as well as Bahrain, the Gulf island state which is home to the US Fifth Fleet.

FASTFACTS

The initiative followed a number of mystery attacks on oil tankers and facilities in and around the strategic waterway.

The UAE hosts talks on Thursday with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who is on a Gulf tour.

Tensions in the region have risen.

The initiative followed a number of mystery attacks on oil tankers and facilities in and around the strategic waterway through which a third of the world’s seaborne oil passes.

Tensions have risen further since Saturday when twin attacks blamed by Washington and Riyadh on Tehran hit the world’s largest oil processing plant and a major oilfield in Saudi Arabia.

“The UAE’s accession to the alliance comes in support of regional and international efforts to deter threats to maritime navigation and global trade,” the director of its International Security Cooperation Department, Salem Mohammed Al-Zaabi, said in a statement.

Al-Zaabi said the UAE joined “in order to secure the flow of energy supplies to the global economy and contribute to maintaining international peace and security.

The UAE is hosting talks on Thursday with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who is on a Gulf tour to discuss Washington’s reponse to the strikes on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry which knocked out half its production.

The UAE’s accession to the alliance comes in support of regional and international efforts to deter threats to maritime navigation and global trade.

Salem Mohammed Al-Zaabi, director, International Security Cooperation Department

Pompeo described the attacks as an “act of war,” as Riyadh unveiled new evidence it said showed the assault was “unquestionably” sponsored by Iran.

Iran has repeatedly denied it was responsible, saying that the attacks were carried out by Yemeni militants as they themselves have claimed.

European countries have declined to join the US-led maritime force for fear of harming their efforts to rescue a landmark 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and major powers.

Tensions in the region have risen ever since US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned the deal in May last year and began reimposing crippling sanctions.


Libya’s navy intercepts about 150 Europe-bound migrants

Updated 19 October 2019

Libya’s navy intercepts about 150 Europe-bound migrants

  • Three rubber boats with 148 Arab and African migrants were stopped off Libya’s western towns of Zuwara and Sabrata
  • Libya has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty to Europe

CAIRO: Libya’s coast guard says it has intercepted around 150 Europe-bound migrants off the country’s Mediterranean coast.
Spokesman Ayoub Gassim said Saturday the migrants had been returned to shore and would be taken to a detention center in the capital, Tripoli.
Gassim said the three rubber boats with 148 Arab and African migrants were stopped off Libya’s western towns of Zuwara and Sabrata Friday, and included 15 women and 11 children.
Libya has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty to Europe. In recent years, the EU has partnered with Libya’s coast guard and other local groups to stem the dangerous sea crossings.
Rights groups, however, say those policies leave migrants at the mercy of armed groups or confined in squalid detention centers rife with abuses.