Israel has launched the first naval exercises with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, with whom it established diplomatic relations just over a year ago. The joint exercise with both Gulf countries, coordinated with the US Fifth Fleet in Red Sea waters, sends a clear signal to Iran about the growing military rapprochement between Israel and its new allies. The maneuvers began on Wednesday and will continue until Sunday, according to a statement released Thursday by the US Central Command (Centcom), which covers the Middle East.
Centcom’s naval chief, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, assured that maritime military coordination contributes to “preserving the freedom of navigation and the free movement of trade, essential for security and stability in the region.” Iran and Israel have been implicated in successive naval incidents since 2019, the latest last summer in the drone attack on an Israeli-owned oil tanker, in which two European crew members were killed off the coast of Oman attributed to the Guardians. of the Iranian Revolution.
In a teleconference for international press correspondents, an official from the Armed Forces of IsraelHe specified that the naval exercises have been organized to ensure that “the sea remains a safe place and counteract the Iranian projection in the region.” “We are facing naval terrorism from Iran and we are not the only country suffering from this threat,” he argued.
Senior government and army officials have been sending messages for weeks about the need to reinforce the preparation of the troops for a possible confrontation with Iran. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said last week at an Executive meeting that “Israel’s international presence is being strengthened and more and more countries want to participate in its military exercises.” “Whoever has to receive the message, will receive it,” he warned in a non-veiled allusion to Iran.
The naval maneuvers in the waters of the Red Sea are led by the US with the amphibious transport ship Portland. They have been presented as “training in inspection, boarding and seizure practices,” according to the Centcom statement. The Fifth Fleet, which operates from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, is based precisely in Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf.
Since Monday, another bilateral military exercise involving hundreds of Israeli commandos and US Marines has been taking place in parallel, which has been deployed around the port city of Eilat (southern Israel), in the Gulf of Aqaba. “The objective is training for two weeks in combat techniques in densely populated areas,” the Army said on Twitter.
Join now EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits
Over the past year, the collaboration of the new Gulf allies with Israel has advanced with rapid diplomatic and economic strides, and also in the military arena. The chief of the Emirati Air Forces, General Amikan Norkin, was received last month by an honor guard at the Palmachin base (south of Tel Aviv) when he attended as an observer Israeli air exercises with seven others. countries.
Iran’s response to Israel’s military activity has not been long in coming. The chief of the Air Force, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, warned on Thursday in Tehran that Israeli forces “may unleash an attack, but Iran will always have the last word,” according to a statement on the Guardians of the Revolution website. by France Presse. Hajizadeh himself undertook to tone down the apocalyptic tone by considering that the Israeli threats “are for internal consumption.”
For more than two years, Israel and Iran have been waging a secret naval battle in which attacks and reprisals take place on the high seas. In July, armed actions were recorded against ships with Israeli ties. In addition to the drone bombardment of the tanker Mercer Street, in which a British security guard and a Romanian sailor, the container ship, were killed Tyndal suffered serious damage in a missile attack in the Indian Ocean.
Israel accuses Iran of attacks on trade routes in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. Iran blames Israel for committing explosive sabotage by paralyzing a Revolutionary Guard ship in the Red Sea and causing the tanker to sink Kharg, one of the largest ships in the Iranian Navy, which sank in June in the Gulf of Oman after catching fire.
Follow all the international information at Facebook and Twitter, o en our weekly newsletter.