Maritime coalition launched to protect Gulf shipping after Iran attacks

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The operational center of the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) following its opening at the US 5th Fleet Command in Bahrain. (AFP)
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Newly appointed commander of Operation SENTINEL, US Navy Rear Admiral, Alvin Holsey (L) Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa (C) and US Navy Vice Admiral, James J. Malloy, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the US 5th Fleet, at the operations centre of the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC. (AFP)
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Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa (R) and US Navy Vice Admiral, James J. Malloy (C), Commander of US Naval Forces Central Command and the US 5th Fleet, are pictured at the operations center of the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2019

Maritime coalition launched to protect Gulf shipping after Iran attacks

  • Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Australia and Britain have all joined the International Maritime Security Construct
  • Vessels will be escorted through the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic chokepoint at the head of the Gulf

MANAMA: A US-led naval coalition officially launched operations in Bahrain Thursday to protect shipping in the Arabian Gulf, after a string of attacks that Washington and its allies blamed on Iran.
The coalition, aimed at warding off the perceived threat to the world’s oil supply, has been in the making since June.
Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, joined the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) in August. Saudi Arabia and the UAE followed suit in September.
Australia and Britain are the main Western countries to have agreed to send warships to escort Gulf shipping. The newest member, Albania, joined on Friday.
Vessels will be escorted through the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic chokepoint at the head of the Gulf and the main artery for the transport of Middle East oil.
Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, commander of US Naval Forces in the Middle East, said Operation Sentinel is a defensive measure aimed at protecting Gulf waters.
“While Sentinel’s operational design is threat-based, it does not threaten,” he said during a ceremony at the IMSC’s command center.
“We employ capable warships on patrol, but there is no offensive line of effort in this construct, other than a commitment to defend each other if attacked.
“Our commitment to the region isn’t short-lived, it is enduring, and we will operate as part of Sentinel for as long as it’s needed — as long as the threat looms.”
Most European governments have declined to participate in the naval coalition, fearful of undermining their efforts to save a landmark 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, which was badly weakened by Washington’s withdrawal last year.
Animosity between Tehran and Washington has soared since President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned the deal and reimposed crippling US sanctions.

Opinion

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On May 12, the UAE said four commercial oil tankers — two Saudi, one Emirati and one Norwegian — had been targeted by “acts of sabotage” in waters off its coast.
Washington and Riyadh blamed Tehran, which denied involvement.
A month later, the Kokuka Courageous was hit and around the same time another tanker in the area, the Norwegian-owned Front Altair, was damaged by three explosions, according to the Norwegian Maritime Authority.
They were transiting through the Strait of Hormuz toward the Indian Ocean.
Then on September 14, drone strikes targeted two key Saudi oil facilities onshore, causing catastrophic damage and temporarily knocking out half of the kingdom’s oil production.
The attacks were claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels who are battling a Saudi-led coalition, but Washington and Riyadh blamed Iran, saying the strikes were carried out with advanced missiles and drones.


Turkey probes dozens over quake social media posts

Updated 49 min 52 sec ago

Turkey probes dozens over quake social media posts

  • Suspects accused of sharing fake images about the quake on social media
  • Death toll from Friday’s quake had reached 39 people as hopes dimmed of finding more survivors

ISTANBUL: Turkish prosecutors are investigating dozens of people for “provocative” social media messages about the deadly earthquake in eastern Turkey, reports said Monday.
The death toll from Friday’s quake in Elazig province had reached 39 people as hopes dimmed of finding more survivors amid the rubble.
The Ankara prosecutor’s office is checking 50 individuals on suspicion of “spreading fear and panic” and “insulting the Turkish people, the Turkish republic and the state institutions,” the Hurriyet daily said.
The suspects are accused of sharing fake images about the quake on social media.
Turkish authorities were winding up their rescue efforts on Monday.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters that 24,000 tents had been provided, 1,000 container shelters were being built, and funds released to repair damaged buildings.
Thirty-five of the victims died in Elazig and four in the neighboring province of Malatya, officials said.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 86 injured were still being treated in hospitals — 18 of them in intensive care units.