Iran’s Defence Minister has warned that if there is any involvement by Israel in the formation of a naval coalition led by the United States (US) it will only “increase insecurity” and have “disastrous consequences” for the region.
In a conference call with his counterparts in Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, Amir Hatami stated: “The military coalition that America is seeking to form with the excuse of securing maritime transport will only increase insecurity in the region.”
This came in response to news of Israel’s involvement, which was disclosed by the country’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz during a session of the Israeli Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee on Tuesday. Hatami said Tel Aviv’s inclusion in the force would be “highly provocative and can have disastrous consequences for the region.”
Tensions in the Gulf have been increasing sharply over the past few months following attacks on oil tankers and vessels around the Strait of Hormuz in May, which the US blamed on Iran. Then followed the seizing of vessels and tankers passing through the strategic Strait, with Iran having captured a British tanker last month in retaliation for the British Navy’s seizure of an Iranian super-tanker transporting oil to Syria allegedly in violation of sanctions.
Late last week, Iran seized a third tanker belonging to Iraq sailing through the Gulf waters, accusing it of smuggling fuel to Arab countries in the area.
Relations between Iran and the West soured after the US’ unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal signed in 2015, imposed unprecedented sanctions on Tehran and later blacklisted its Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC).
As a result of the increased tensions, the US has deployed 500 troops to Saudi Arabia overlooking the Gulf and has been building a naval coalition to patrol the Gulf, including the United Kingdom (UK) and various European nations.