US wants coalition to protect strategic Gulf waters: general

The US aims to form a coalition to guarantee freedom of navigation in strategic Gulf waters amid fraught relations between Washington and Tehran, a top general told media on Tuesday (July 9th).

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, and Tehran shooting down an American drone.

"We are 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-Mandeb," said Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a video carried by Reuters.

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

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month he hopes more than 20 countries, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, would work together on building maritime security.

"We will need you all to participate, your military folks," Pompeo said. "The president is keen on sharing that the US does not bear the cost of this."

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