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As Iran Seizes Tankers, U.A.E. Pulls Back From U.S.-Led Maritime Force

The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday announced it had stopped participating in the U.S.-led maritime security force, a move it complains the U.S. is not doing enough to protect the Persian Gulf from threats from Iran. It is the latest sign of tensions between America’s main allies and the United States.

The unusual public statement comes after Iran seized two commercial tankers in quick succession in waterways near the Emirates over the past two months. The Emirates foreign ministry said the country “withdrew its participation” from the Combined Navy two months ago “as a result of continued assessments of effective security cooperation with all partners”. .

Political analysts said the emirate’s statement was intended to send a message to the United States that it is dissatisfied with the level of U.S. protection against its Persian Gulf allies against the Iranian threat and must look out for its own interests. It is said that it may be something. Officials in the emirate and Saudi Arabia have repeatedly expressed frustration with US policy toward Iran.

“They are dissatisfied with the Americans and very decisive when the UAE is dissatisfied,” said Emirati political scientist Abdulkarek Abdullah.

Commander. Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain, said he remained a “partner” with the UAE even though it had stopped participating.

“Regarding the level of participation as a partner, that’s up to the individual partner,” he said, adding that Emirates “has withdrawn from the task force for the time being, but the members as a whole have withdrawn. not,” he added.

Withdrawing from the group does not leave the UAE defenseless against Iran and other threats.

The Joint Naval Forces headquarters is located at the US Naval Base in Bahrain. The group brings together more than 30 countries operating in the waters of the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa to protect commercial flows and deter illegal activities such as piracy. Participation is voluntary.

In April, Iran seized an oil tanker chartered by Chevron en route from Kuwait to Houston.A few days later, Iranian speed boat It surrounded an oil tanker leaving Dubai, the Emirates’ largest city and world trade center. The ship was forced to divert into Iranian waters.

U.S. Navy commander in the region, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, said earlier this month that U.S. Navy warships were stepping up patrols in the Strait of Hormuz, a busy maritime corridor in the Persian Gulf, in response to Iran’s moves. .

“Iran’s behavior is unacceptable,” he said in an interview.

But last week, Brigadier General Alireza Tansiri, the naval commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps, lashed out in a statement that the US “should not be in our region.”

“Security in the Persian Gulf is provided by Iran and the countries in the region and does not require you or any other country to be present,” he said.

Like other Persian Gulf officials, emirate officials are trying to strike a delicate balance between deterring Iran and de-escalating tensions with Iran.

Emirati officials maintain open relations with Iran, exchanging high-level visits this year.

But Iran-backed militias, including Yemen’s Houthi rebels, have carried out repeated attacks on the UAE and neighboring Saudi Arabia, including attacks with drones and missiles.

Eric Schmidt contributed to reporting from Washington, Rayleigh Niconazar from Brussels and Ahmed Al Omran Originally from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

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