RIYADH - Saudi Arabia has joined a US-led naval mission purportedly aimed at protecting shipping lanes in Middle Eastern waterways as Washington and Riyadh engage in another blame game against Iran following massive Yemeni drone attacks on key Saudi oil facilities.
Quoting an official source in the Defense Ministry, the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday that Riyadh had decided to be a member of the so-called International Maritime Security Construct, which operates in the Strait of Hormuz, Bab el-Mandab, the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf.
It also claimed that the US-led coalition is meant to “protect merchant ships through providing safe navigation” and safeguard the interests of the alliance’s member countries.
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Saudi Arabia’s accession to the mission, it further claimed, was “in support of regional and international efforts to deter and counter threats to maritime navigation and global trade in order to ensure global energy security and the continued flow of energy supplies to the global economy.”
The United States began trying to persuade its allies into the maritime coalition after it blamed Tehran for two separate attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June, without providing any credible evidence to back up the allegation, which Iran has categorically rejected.