This article written by Dr Vijay Sakhuja, Honorary Distinguished Fellow of CPPR looks at the evolving naval coalitions for the Arabian Gulf waters and the future of Gulf security dynamics.
Three multi-nation naval coalitions are being constituted for the Arabian Gulf waters with a common stated aim of ensuring safe and secure movement of international shipping operating in the Gulf waters. These groupings are driven by a number of competitive political and strategic variables and necessitate an assessment of the future of Gulf security dynamics.
First is the US-led International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC-Op Sentinel) to “promote maritime stability, ensure safe passage, and deescalate tensions in international waters throughout the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Oman”, after tankers belonging to Japan, Norway, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia were attacked in May and June2019. Some nations have committed to join Operation Sentinel, while others have conveyed a ‘lukewarm’ support. The current list supporting the IMSC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and non-Arabian Gulf states such as Albania, Australia, the Republic of Korea and the UK. Meanwhile, France and Japan refused to be part of the IMSC and have expressed preference for an alternate security initiative to avoid being involved in any military confrontation between Washington and Tehran; and Germany prefers diplomacy. However, for the UK, the IMSC will reduce risks to British flagged ships transiting the Strait of Hormuz without a Royal Navy escort.
Views expressed by the author are personal and need not reflect or represent the views of Centre for Public Policy Research