Dr Mike Evans

Israel Navy joins Bahrain, UAE, and US in Red Sea drill to counter Iran

The Israel Navy participated last week in the first joint military drill by the navies of Bahrain, the UAE, and the US, in preparation to act against potential threats from Iran.

“This [Iranian] presence is something that we need to push back as much as possible from the State of Israel, from the Red Sea, from the areas that harm our freedom to sail… In order to do that, we need to make our partnerships tighter,” a senior Israel Navy officer told reporters on Thursday.

“Here the goal is to extend the range of the navy’s operations — for the good of the State of Israel and the IDF — to extend our ability to detect [threats], to extend our sailing range, to prevent naval terrorism and also to retaliate, when we must, when it’s needed, against what the Iranians are doing,” the officer added.

The naval exercise comes just after the one-year anniversary of Israel’s historic normalization agreement with Bahrain and the UAE. The Abraham Accords, signed at the White House with leaders of the three nations, has led to a wide variety of new initiatives between the Middle Eastern countries.

While the Abraham Accords did not directly address military cooperation, the new exercise appears to be the result of the earlier effort.

“This exercise is part of a work plan, and you will see more of them in the coming year. They won’t just be bilateral with the Americans. Since the Fifth Fleet works with countries that are part of the Abraham Accords, in this exercise, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are taking part,” US Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of the fleet, said in a statement.

“Maritime collaboration helps safeguard freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade, which are essential to regional security and stability,” he added.

The drill also comes as Israel has directed its diplomatic rhetoric on efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear weapon development. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett focused his recent UN address on Iran and stressed Israel’s opposition to Iran’s nuclear plans in his first meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington in August.