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6 Aug, 2019 23:31

Israel joins US-led anti-Iran coalition in Strait of Hormuz?

Israel joins US-led anti-Iran coalition in Strait of Hormuz?

Israel has reportedly volunteered intelligence and assistance in “other unspecified fields” to the US-led coalition against Iran after bonding with the Emirates over a shared opposition to Tehran’s influence in the Persian Gulf.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates have reached “substantial agreements” regarding the “Iranian threat,” foreign minister Yisrael Katz told a closed session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, according to Ynet News. Katz also said he has instructed the ministry to include Israel in the US-led “policing” mission, adding that participating in the initiative will improve its relationship with the Gulf Arab states.

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The US has had trouble drumming up support for its “maritime policing” initiative in the Persian Gulf, where Iran largely controls one of the world’s most important shipping routes. Australia has yet to respond to Washington’s invitation to join the anti-Iran club, while Germany has declined to sign on, seeking to avoid further escalation in the region and warning against trying to find a “military solution” to the standoff. Among European countries, only the UK has been eager to send its military into the midst of the tensions, deploying two warships to the region after seizing an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar and having one of its own tankers seized in the Strait of Hormuz.

Katz warned last month that Israel must be ready to strike Iran in the case of any “mistaken calculations,” piling on the pressure after an Iranian official warned that a US attack would mean “only half an hour will remain of Israel’s lifespan.” In March, PM Benjamin Netanyahu suggested the Israeli Navy might take action to block Iranian “covert oil smuggling” routes and called on the international community to combat any attempts by Tehran to evade US sanctions, though no official moves in that direction have been made.

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Israeli intelligence was reportedly behind the US decision to fill the Persian Gulf with military assets, starting back in May. A carrier strike group, a bomber task force, several missile batteries, and thousands of soldiers have been deployed to the region, looking for all the world like the buildup to war despite the Trump administration’s insistence that these are merely defensive moves meant to counter Iranian aggression. Israel also took credit for convincing Trump to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, and Netanyahu has been claiming for over a decade that Tehran is just months away from building a nuclear bomb.

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