GCC navies begin security patrols in Arabian Gulf amid US-Iran tensions

Saudi Arabian foreign ministry reiterates that it does not want war with Iran, but is prepared for one if need be, as GCC navies step up Arabian Gulf patrols.
GCC nations have joined the US in naval operations in the Arabian Gulf
GCC nations have joined the US in naval operations in the Arabian Gulf

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GCC countries have begun “enhanced security patrols” in the international waters of the Arabian Gulf, according to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

GCC members were “specifically increasing communication and co-ordination with each other in support of regional naval co-operation and maritime security operations in the Arabian Gulf”, the Bahrain-based fleet said in a statement.

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The announcement came just hours after Saudi Arabia announced an emergency summit of Gulf and Arab leaders for May 30 to discuss the recent attacks on shipping off the coast of the UAE, and the growing tensions between the US and Iran.

The Saudi Arabian foreign ministry posted a video on Twitter, taken during a press conference held by Adel Al Jubeir, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, in which he emphasises that Saudi Arabia does not want war with Iran, but will defend its interest if challenged.

Also on Sunday, the Saudi Media Ministry said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had discussed regional developments and the need to strengthen security in a call to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Adel Al Jubeir, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, spoke a week after four oil tankers, two of them Saudi, were hit in an act of sabotage off the coast of the UAE, and days after Iran-backed Yemeni rebels claimed a drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline and two pumping stations.

"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want war in the region and does not strive for that," Al Jubeir said. "But at the same time, if the other side chooses war the kingdom will fight this with all force and determination, and it will defend itself, its citizens and its interests."

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps is “highly likely” to have orchestrated the attacks last Sunday on the four tankers off Fujairah, according to a Norwegian insurers’ report seen by Reuters.

The other two vessels in the attack were registered in the UAE and Norway.

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