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General: US Wants Military Coalition to Safeguard Gulf Waters

General: US Wants Military Coalition to Safeguard Gulf Waters

Wednesday, 10 July, 2019 - 04:45
FILE PHOTO: US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford attends a meeting of the National Space Council in the East Room of the White House. Reuters file photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
The United States hopes to enlist allies over the next two weeks or so in a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters in the Gulf amid fraught relations between Washington and Tehran, a top general told media on Tuesday.

Tensions in the area -- through which nearly a third of the world's oil is transported -- have spiked in recent weeks, with the US blaming Iran for multiple attacks on tanker ships in the region, and Tehran shooting down an American drone.

Under the plan, which has only been finalized in recent days, the United States would provide command ships and lead surveillance efforts for the military coalition. Allies would patrol waters near those US command ships and escort commercial vessels with their nation's flags.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, articulated those details to reporters following meetings on Tuesday about it with acting US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"We're engaging now with a number of countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure freedom of navigation both in the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab," Dunford, said.

"I think probably over the next couple weeks we'll identify which nations have the political will to support that initiative and then we'll work directly with the militaries to identify the specific capabilities that'll support that," he said.

The US would provide "maritime domain awareness and surveillance," while ships would be escorted by the nations whose flag they carry, the general said.

Pompeo said last month that he hopes more than 20 countries would work together on building maritime security.

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