The commander of Iran’s navy has said his country and several Gulf countries plan to form a naval alliance to secure regional stability, according to Iranian media.
Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani made the televised announcement on June 2. He said the alliance would also include India and Pakistan.
Wang Jin, assistant director of the Institute of Middle East Studies, Northwest University of China, told China Media Group that Iran’s plan is of great significance.
Wang said the naval alliance should be regarded as a regional and multilateral naval cooperation and coordination mechanism or platform, focusing on maritime security, combating piracy, and carrying out rescues at sea.
“It is of great significance to neighboring countries and the international community to ensure maritime safety in the Gulf region through joint coordination,” Wang said.
“The establishment of a naval coordination mechanism also shows that the mutual trust among these countries has reached a new level, and areas of cooperation can be further expanded in the future,” he added.
Irani did not give further details about the alliance and there was no confirmation from the other countries.
Improved regional ties
Relations between Iran and several Gulf countries have improved significantly in recent months. In April, Iran restored diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, which had been severed since 2016, following the restoration of full diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year.
On June 2, the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia met in South Africa and the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia said that he would visit Iran soon.
The UAE and Qatar will restore full diplomatic ties and reopen embassies with ambassadors in place by mid-June, Reuters has reported.
According to the Fars News Agency, Irani said countries in the region have realized that the security of the region can be established through synergy and cooperation of them.
He said Oman and Iran had conducted joint naval exercises several times before, and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq and other countries also want to carry out naval cooperation with Iran.
Changing diplomatic dynamics
Two days before Irani’s announcement, the UAE said it had withdrawn from the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a maritime coalition led by the United States. The Bahrain-headquartered CMF was established in 2001, tasked with securing tense Gulf waterways that are vital to the global oil trade.
According to the Emirati Foreign Ministry’s statement, the UAE withdrew its participation in the 38-nation CMF two months ago. A spokesperson for the CMF said the UAE remains a partner nation, despite putting its participation on hold.
“With the continuous easing of relations between countries in the Middle East, especially the Gulf countries with Iran and Saudi Arabia as the core, the UAE has gradually changed its strategic orientation and started to prefer more communication and cooperation with Iran,” Wang said.
Wang said that the UAE has been a key ally of the U.S. in the Middle East, but in recent years the UAE has become dissatisfied with the unilateral and hegemonic interference of the ally.
As an influential country in the region, Wang added, the UAE’s move may portend a future in which more countries in the Middle East will pursue a more distant and measured foreign policy with the U.S..
Source » cgtn