UAE joins US-led coalition to protect Gulf shipping

Its addition to the group follows attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities last week

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 03, 2014 the British warship HMS Montrose is pictured docked in the Cypriot port of Limassol. Three Iranian ships attempted to "impede the passage" of a British oil tanker in Gulf waters, forcing a UK frigate to intervene, the British government said on July 11, 2019. "Contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz," a UK government statement said of the incident, which occurred yesterday. "HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away," the statement said.
 / AFP / -

The UAE says it has joined the US-led coalition to protect shipping in the Arabian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz after an attack on Saudi oil installations.

The UAE joined the International Maritime Security Construct on Thursday to “ensure global energy security and the continued flow of energy supplies to the global economy," said Salem Alzaabi, director of the UAE's International Security Co-operation Department.

Saudi Arabia joined the coalition on Wednesday. Australia, Bahrain and the UK also are taking part.

Members of the effort have committed troops, planes and ships to accompany and track vessels passing through the Gulf after a series of attacks and seizures of boats as tension with Iran rises.

The US formed the coalition after attacks on oil tankers that American officials blame on Iran, as well as Iran’s seizure of tankers in the region. Iran denies being behind the tanker attacks.

The UAE's decision to join the mission comes as Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed prepares to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the latest developments in the region.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman this week and reaffirmed the UAE's support for all measures taken by the kingdom to ensure the safety of its citizens and all those living in it, Wam reported.

“UAE and Saudi Arabia are standing as partners in facing besetting challenges," Sheikh Mohamed said. "Our shared goals are the security of our nations."

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Germany, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, told German radio station Deutschlandfunk that all options were on the table in retaliation to attacks on the kingdom’s oil processing facilities on September 14.

"We're still working on where they were launched from but wherever they came from, Iran is certainly behind them as Iran built them and they could only be launched with Iranian help," Prince Faisal said.

"Of course everything is on the table but you have to discuss that well."

On Wednesday evening, Saudi Arabia displayed remnants of ranian drones and cruise missiles used in an attack on the Saudi oil facilities, saying they were "undeniable" evidence of Iranian aggression.

The Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility and after the Saudi presentation, they held their own press conference to reiterate the claims of responsibility and make fresh threats to hit regional targets.

But French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday that it was not very credible that the Yemen rebels attacked the Saudi oil facilities.

The kingdom has also denied that the Houthis could have carried out the attack.