Israeli navy joins US-led exercise with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan

Published February 18, 2022
Participating nations conduct helicopter insertion and extraction training in the Arabian Gulf, on Feb 15, during International Maritime Exercise/Cutlass Express 2022. — Photo courtesy US Navy Twitter
Participating nations conduct helicopter insertion and extraction training in the Arabian Gulf, on Feb 15, during International Maritime Exercise/Cutlass Express 2022. — Photo courtesy US Navy Twitter

WASHINGTON: The Israeli navy confirmed on Thursday that it has participated in a US-led exercise with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and some other countries that do not have diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

The US Navy said in a statement that more than 9,000 people from 60 militaries took part in the International Maritime Exercise (IMX), which kicked off on Jan 31.

The participants included Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Comoros, Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen who do not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

Several countries with which Israel recently normalised relations — such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — also participated. Bahrain is a close US ally and hosts the 5th Fleet of the US Navy.

Participating countries include several that do not have diplomatic ties with Israel

The biennial drill was launched in 2012 and has become “the largest multinational naval exercise in the Middle East,” the US Navy said.

The Israeli media reported that this was Israel’s first participation in a military exercise with countries that do not have diplomatic ties with the state.

Israeli Navy chief David Salama said in a statement that their participation in the American exercise “demonstrates the strengthening connection between our fleets, based on power, mutual learning, and strategic partnership”.

The Israeli Navy, he said, was “working together with our American partners to prevent terror in the maritime arena and to strengthen the security of the region’s waters”.

The head of the US 5th Fleet, Admiral Brad Cooper, who over the past month has met with Mr Salama, Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, also hailed the growing ties between the two navies.

“This joint exercise demonstrates our determination to protect international law and order. This is a special opportunity to expand our interoperability as we strengthen our naval ties,” Mr Cooper said.

In November, the Israeli Navy participated in a 5th Fleet-led exercise in the Red Sea, alongside the UAE and Bahrain in what Israeli officials said was “meant to serve as a response to recent attacks by Iran against Israeli naval assets,” the Israeli media reported.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2022

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