Iran’s navy commander said Friday that Tehran was working to form a naval alliance with several Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iraq.
“The countries of the region have today realized that only cooperation with each other brings security to the area,” Iranian Navy Commander Shahram Irani said.
In response to Irani’s comments, the spokesman for the US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said Iran forming such an alliance “defied reason” and blamed Tehran for the current tensions in the region. “It defies reason that Iran, the number one cause of regional instability, claims it wants to form a naval security alliance to protect the very waters it threatens,” said spokesman Cmdr. Tim Hawkins.
The US recently stepped up its military activity in the Persian Gulf after Iran seized two oil tankers in the region. Missing from the US rhetoric about the issue is the fact that the Iranian actions came after the US seized a tanker carrying Iranian oil and stole its cargo.
While the Gulf countries Iran is looking to build an alliance with have a history of being close to the US, diplomatic relationships are shifting in the region. Iran and Saudi Arabia are looking to cooperate more closely after signing a surprise China-brokered normalization deal, and Abua Dhabi and Tehran are also working to forge stronger ties.
Irani’s comments came after the UAE announced it withdrew from a US-led maritime coalition in the region. “As a result of our ongoing evaluation of effective security cooperation with all partners, two months ago, the UAE withdrew its participation in the Combined Maritime Forces,” the UAE’s Foreign Ministry said last week.