The navies of the United States and three client states, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, launched a joint exercise in the Red Sea late last week, “in response to their shared adversary Iran’s presence and aggression in the waters of the Middle East,” a senior Israeli naval official said.
Earlier on Thursday, November 11, the US Central Command’s 5th Fleet announced that it had launched an exercise in the Red Sea the day before with the navies of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, focusing on “visit, board, search and seizure tactics.”
An Israeli F-15 fighter jet (below) escorts two American B-1B bombers during the ongoing joint military exercises in the Red Sea targeting Iran conducted beginning from late last week, November 11, 2021.
(Photo: Israeli military)
Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of the US’s 5th Fleet, boasted in a statement. “It is exciting to see US forces training with regional partners to enhance our collective maritime security capabilities.” The exercise, one of the first Israel has held with the 5th Fleet, came just over a year after Israel normalized ties with the UAE and Bahrain under the US imperialistic Abraham Accords and a few months after Israel was transferred into the area of responsibility of the US military’s Middle East-focused Central Command.
Though Israel has conducted exercises alongside the UAE in the past, the drill represents the first-ever public military cooperation between Israel and Bahrain. The drill is being led by the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which operates throughout the Middle East, and it will be held in the northern Red Sea, keeping a wide berth from Iran, which maintains proxies in Yemen and regularly has ships located around the Bab al-Mandab Strait between the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
Also in Thursday, November 11, for the second time in a month, Israeli F-15 fighter jets escorted United States B-1B bombers through the region, in a tacit threat to Iran. According to the Israeli military, the fighter jets accompanied two B-1B heavy bombers and an American KC-10 refueling jet through Israeli airspace as they headed west from the Persian Gulf.
On the same day, Israeli security chiefs ramped up their rhetoric against Iran: Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Israel will carry out operations that “haven’t been seen in the past”. Israeli army Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the army “is accelerating operational planning and preparedness to deal with Iran and the military nuclear threat. Thankfully, the budget that was approved last week makes it possible to contend with a variety of threats.” The budget was approved thanks, among the votes of other coalition members, to support for the Islamic party Ra’am.
In the beginning of this year, Kohavi announced he had instructed the military to begin drawing up fresh attack plans for such an operation, and last week the government reportedly allocated billions of shekels toward making those plans viable.