An ongoing joint naval exercise by the US, Israel, UAE and Bahrain in the Red Sea is "a message to Iran," a senior Israeli military official said on Friday.
The drill is a "response to our shared adversary Iran's presence and aggression in the waters of the Middle East," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Israeli media outlets, including the Times of Israel.
The US Naval Forces Central Command said in a statement on Thursday that the five-day exercise, which started on 10 November, is "focused on visit, board, search and seizure tactics … [and] will enhance interoperability between participating forces."
Israel wants to push back as much as possible against Iranian presence around its territory, the Israeli official was quoted as saying.
"Iran is trying to establish itself not only on the ground in the region, but also at sea, where it has used drones and other platforms to carry out attacks," he said.
The officer pointed out that this was the first joint exercise with UAE and Bahrain, who have been normalising ties with Israel since signing a US-sponsored deal in September 2020.
"This is the first time at sea that we have exchanged knowledge with Bahrain and UAE on professional and operational technologies," he said.
"This exercise is part of a plan and you will see more of them in the coming year."