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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Are Qatar and Kuwait going to join US-led naval coalition in the Gulf?

The state of Qatar and Kuwait have decided to be part of the US-led naval coalition in the Gulf. What does this development mean for Saudi Arabia and Iran?

Qatar and Kuwait are set to join a U.S.-led naval coalition in the Gulf which was established in response to a series of attacks on oil tankers. In this regard, U.S military officials have confirmed, the defense department has been informed. Qatar is a strategic partner of the USA and always stood by her through thick and thin.

The coalition, based out of Bahrain and known as the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), was formed after a series of attacks earlier this year heightened the risk of disruption to Gulf oil exports shipped through the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. Army Colonel Confirms the Development

“Qatar and Kuwait have already told us they are going to join, so it is just a matter of time,” said U.S. Army Colonel John Conklin, chief of staff of the coalition.

Conklin said they were expected to provide personnel and patrol boats. The United States was in talks with Canada about joining the initiative, said Conklin, who spoke during a trip to the Middle East by Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Mark Milley. Milley arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday.

So far the coalition has received a lukewarm response with Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom joining.

Read more: Gulf of Oman incident: Did Qatar really have prior knowledge of a ‘sabotage attack’?

At the same time, France is spearheading a European-led mission independent of the U.S-led maritime initiative, which some European countries feared would make U.S.-Iranian tensions worse. “To my knowledge, nobody has joined (the French) coalition yet and they’ve been trying for a while but they haven’t been very successful,” Conklin said.

Did Qatar have Prior Knowledge of the Attack?

According to a Western Intelligence report, Qatar had advance knowledge of Iran’s attacks on four ships in the Gulf of Oman in May and it failed to warn the US, France and the United Kingdom. This report comes in contrast to the anti-terrorism cooperation between the US and Qatar.

However, in the latest development, the state of Qatar has categorically rejected the allegations leveled against it by a western media outlet. Ministry of Foreign Affairs came out with a statement against an article published by FoxNews.com that made baseless allegations against Qatar. Qatar has rejected the allegations and clarified its position on the matter.

May 2019 Gulf of Oman Incident

On 12 May 2019, four commercial ships were damaged off Fujairah’s coast in the Gulf of Oman. The ships included two Saudi Arabian registered oil tankers, a Norwegian registered oil tanker, and an Emirati registered bunkering ship. The ships were anchored on the United Arab Emirates territorial waters for bunkering in Port of Fujairah. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates reported that the ships had been subject to a “sabotage attack”.

An official inquiry was carried out by the UAE with the help of the United States and France. Initial investigation report confirmed that 5-to-10-foot (1.5 to 3.0 m) holes near or below all the ships’ waterlines were probably caused by explosive charges.

Read more: Turkey’s Erdogan in Qatar calls for ‘swift’ end to Gulf crisis

The USA blamed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps for attacking the ship. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the alleged attack in order to raise the price of oil as Washington works to end Iran’s exports of crude. On the other hand, Iran categorically rejected the allegations and demanded an international investigation. Iran believes that this ‘sabotage attack’ can be a possible false flag operation or an “Israeli mischief” to attempt and cause a military reaction.