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Israel To Participate In US-led Mission In Persian Gulf By Providing Intelligence And “Other” Activities


Israel To Participate In US-led Mission In Persian Gulf By Providing Intelligence And "Other" Activities

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On August 6th, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that the country would support the US-led operation to provide a sort of maritime security in the Persian Gulf.

This is, in its entirety, no surprise at all.

Speaking at a closed session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Katz said Israel was assisting the mission with intelligence and other unspecified fields

Katz told a ministers’ meeting that the two reached “substantial agreements,” adding that he was working toward “transparent normalization and signed agreements” with Gulf states. He added: “We do not have a conflict with them.”

Katz further said that it is an Israeli interest to stop Iranian entrenchment in the region and strengthen Israel’s relationship with Gulf countries.

No information was provided whether Israel would actually send warships or any vessels to the Persian Gulf, to take part in the mission. And it is likely that it would simply provide intelligence.

So far, the only willing participants in the US-led mission in the Persian Gulf are: Israel and the UK.

Announcing its participation in the US-led mission, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said it “will draw largely on assets already in the region.” It said the Royal Navy will work alongside the US Navy to escort vessels through the Strait of Hormuz.

Israel To Participate In US-led Mission In Persian Gulf By Providing Intelligence And "Other" Activities

An Israeli warship arrives at an Israeli navy base in the Red Sea resort city of Eilat July 15, 2009. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Which is puzzling, since US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that the US-led mission would only escort US-flagged ships, and all other countries would have to provide their own security.

Australia appeared to be considering it. Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds told the visiting US secretaries of state and defense that their “very serious” and “complex” request would be given “very serious consideration.” No other information was provided.

So far, Germany refused to participate in a military mission in the Persian Gulf, especially a US-led one. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that discussions with France and the UK were on-going for an EU-led peace keeping mission.

Paris, Berlin and London plan to coordinate and share information in the Gulf to reinforce maritime security, but without deploying additional assets, according to French Defense Minister Florence Parly.

Getting back to the US-led mission, Spain, too, rejected the offer, as per Spanish newspaper El Confidencial.

The newspaper quoted unnamed diplomatic sources confirming that Madrid had received an official request from the United States to participate in these forces. Those same sources said that “the Spanish government has currently no intention to participate in joint US-led forces.”

It is unconfirmed, but likely true, since Spain, earlier pulled out its warship the fregate Méndez Núñez from the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group when it was moving towards its deployment in the Persian Gulf, where it still is.

Japan was invited to take part, and rejected the invitation. It won’t send warships to join the US-led mission, but it may send vessels independently, to protect its own vessels, if the necessity arises.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and continue to collect information while working closely with the United States and other countries”, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga explained.

Other countries that were invited by the US include Norway, Belgium and South Korea.

There’s been no response by South Korea, but a positive answer is likely, especially if its “best frenemy” Japan refuses to participate, after all Seoul would like to prove itself as the premier proxy-state of the US in Southeast Asia.

Belgium in its navy has two frigates, both commissioned 28 years ago in 1991, 5 minehunters, two support vessels, two patrol boats and two Navy aircraft, one being a submarine hunter, the other a spy helicopter. It is unclear what kind of support it can provide.

Norway, on the other hand, has a very modernized navy, which despite its small numbers has several frigates, the oldest of which was commissioned in 2006. It also has more than a dozen combat boats, which would be quite useful in potentially countering the IRGC’s speed boat prowess.

No response has been given by neither Norway, nor Belgium.

Mark Esper, the US defense secretary, tried to present the effort in a positive light and said the United States had gotten “various degrees of response,” adding “I think there’ll be some announcements coming out in the coming days.”




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