United States’ allies should join a US-led coalition to safeguard waters off Iran and Yemen, the Washington says, adding that the US will play a command and intelligence role, while allies would escort their own nations’ commercial ships. “We’re engaging now with a number of countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure freedom of navigation both in the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab el Mandeb,” said Marine General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Following a series of attacks on commercial vessels for which Washington blames Iran and aligned proxy groups, the US military intends to form a naval coalition of allies that would guarantee freedom of navigation in strategic waters around the Arabian Peninsula. Based on the plan announced on Tuesday (9 July), the US would provide “maritime domain awareness and surveillance,” while each member of the allied coalition would provide protection to the commercial vessels that fly under its flag.
Patrols would be carried out in particularly vulnerable waterways around the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el Mandeb, which separates Yemen from the Horn of Africa. Nearly a third of the world’s oil is transported through the maritime space, where tensions have spiked in recent weeks. The US blames Teheran, which has also shot down an unmanned American military surveillance drone, for multiple attacks on oil tankers. Washington hopes that at least 20 countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, would eventually join the US-led coalition designed to build maritime security in the region, said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month.