Creating new perspectives since 2009

Pompeo discusses Iran with Gulf allies amid escalating crisis

June 24, 2019 at 7:49 pm

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (R) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 14 January 2019 [Bandar Algaloud/Anadolu Agency]

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed Iran and maritime security with rich Gulf Arab allies during a trip to the region on Monday after President Donald Trump called off a military strike to retaliate for Tehran’s downing of a US drone, reports Reuters.

A senior US State Department official said that the United States is building a coalition with its allies to protect Gulf shipping lanes by having “eyes on all shipping”, following recent attacks on oil tankers that Washington blamed on Iran.

Pompeo arrived in the United Arab Emirates after meeting with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia where talks covered protection for ships in the Gulf.

The on-going tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The on-going tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

“Freedom of navigation is paramount,” Pompeo tweeted from the Saudi city of Jeddah.

READ: US does not want war with Iran, continues diplomacy

The senior US official told reporters en route to Abu Dhabi that Pompeo and the US Navy is building a “Sentinel” programme for “proactive deterrence”. He said a coalition of nations would provide both material and financial contributions, but did not name the countries.

What the Iranians are doing by shooting down American drones, shooting at other drones in the region not even necessarily over the Gulf, anywhere, is to prevent us from having eyes on them.

A second US official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the plan aimed to see US partners providing the majority of ships that would be positioned in intervals in the Gulf of Oman or the Strait of Hormuz, keeping watch.

“It’s not in operation (yet) but it’s something we’re looking at with our partners,” the official said, describing the concept.

Tehran has denied any involvement in the explosive blasts that have hit six vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, near the Strait of Hormuz, through which almost a fifth of the world’s oil passes.

The US official said the deterrents include cameras, binoculars and ships, including from the United States.

READ: Saudi Arabia calls to secure regional waterways