The US, the UAE, Bahrain, and Israel are holding joint military exercises in the Red Sea, the US Navy said Thursday. It marks the first official exercise between Israel and the two Gulf nations and comes just over a year after they normalized relations.
The exercises began on November 1oth and will be held for five days. “The five-day exercise includes at-sea training aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) focused on visit, board, search and seizure tactics,” the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet said in a statement.
One purpose of the US-brokered normalization deals was to further isolate Iran in the region, and the Red Sea exercises are a clear message to Tehran. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly floated the idea of creating an anti-Iran NATO-style alliance that includes Israel and the Gulf states in his meeting with President Biden back in August.
The drills also come after the US formally moved Israel under US Central Command’s area of operations. Previously, Israel fell under US European Command because so many of Washington’s Arab allies did not recognize Israel. The Trump administration ordered the change in January, and Israel sent a representative to CENTCOM headquarters in October, solidifying the move.