First joint naval exercise by Israel and Gulf states signals Iran worries

In a move almost unthinkable only three years ago, Gulf Arab navies have held their first joint military exercise with Israeli warships, co-ordinated by the US Navy.

The five-day drill in the Red Sea involved warships from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Israel and the US. It began last Wednesday and included boarding, search and seizure tactics "to help ensure freedom of navigation".

US Naval Forces Central Command said the training would "enhance interoperability between participating forces' maritime interdiction teams".

The exercise follows the signing of the Abraham Accords in September 2020, which saw the UAE and Bahrain normalise their relations with Israel. Since then, there has been an intense exchange of diplomatic, military and intelligence contacts between Israel and those Gulf states, as all parties share their concern over Iran's activities. The head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency has made a public visit to Bahrain and in October the commander of the UAE's air force arrived in Israel on his first ever such visit.

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