Bahrain to join US-led efforts to protect Gulf navigation

Bahrain said Monday (August 19th) it would join US-led efforts to protect shipping in the Gulf amid tensions with Iran after a series of attacks on tankers, AFP reported.

Bahrain's King Hamad voiced his country's appreciation of the "US role in supporting regional security and stability" during a meeting with US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, state media said.

"The king confirmed the kingdom of Bahrain's participation in the joint effort to preserve the safety of international maritime navigation and secure international corridors for trade and energy," the official Bahrain News Agency reported.

McKenzie said in a statement Monday that he "welcomes the Kingdom of Bahrain into the International Maritime Security Construct".

"I appreciate His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa's decision to join the UK and the US in taking an active role in preserving the freedom of navigation, promoting maritime security and de-escalating regional tensions," McKenzie said.

Bahrain did not specify the extent of participation for its navy.

Britain, which already has warships on protection duty in the Gulf after a UK-flagged tanker was seized by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has said it will join the planned operation.

Bahrain, which hosts the US 5th Fleet, said last month that it would co-host a conference with the US on "maritime and air navigation security", set for October.

Iran has seized three tankers in strategic Gulf waters since last month, including a British-flagged vessel.

That came after British Royal Marines helped impound a tanker carrying Iranian oil off the British overseas territory of Gibraltar on July 4th.

Britain suspected it was destined for Syria in defiance of EU sanctions, which Iran denies.

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