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Qatar, Kuwait told US they will join naval coalition, official says

Qatar's Joint Special Forces and UK Special Forces conduct a joint naval exercise in Doha, Qatar on 28 February 2018 [Defence Ministry of Qatar/ Anadolu Agency]

Qatar and Kuwait have told the United States that they will join a US-led naval coalition in the Gulf which was established in response to a series of attacks on oil tankers, a US military official said on Monday, reports Reuters.

The coalition, based out of Bahrain and known as the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), was formed after a series of attacks earlier this year heightened the risk of disruption to Gulf oil exports shipped through the Strait of Hormuz.

The United States blamed the attacks on Iran, which Tehran denied.

Tensions in the Gulf of Hormuz – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

“Qatar and Kuwait have already told us they are going to join, so it is just a matter of time,” said US Army Colonel John Conklin, chief of staff of the coalition.

READ: US aircraft carrier strike group sails through Strait of Hormuz

Conklin said they were expected to provide personnel and patrol boats.

So far the coalition has received a lukewarm response with Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom joining.

At the same time, France is spearheading a European-led mission independent of the US-led maritime initiative, which some European countries feared would make US-Iranian tensions worse.

“To my knowledge, nobody has joined (the French) coalition yet and they’ve been trying for a while but they haven’t been very successful,” Conklin said.

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