UAE declares withdrawal from naval alliance, but US says otherwise
Stars and Stripes May 31, 2023
A key security partner in the Middle East announced Wednesday that it had pulled out of an American-led maritime alliance earlier this spring, but the U.S. Navy has a different interpretation.
The United Arab Emirates said it “withdrew its participation” from Combined Maritime Task Forces two months ago after an “evaluation of effective security cooperation with all partners.”
The UAE’s Foreign Affairs Ministry statement was posted on the website of the Emirates News Agency, a state news service.
U.S. 5th Fleet, though, said Wednesday that the UAE is still a partner in the program, which is led by a Navy vice admiral and has task forces that focus on countering piracy, training and patrolling the waterways of the Middle East.
The Combined Maritime Task Forces has 38 member countries, including the UAE, listed on the Navy’s fact sheet online.
“Bottom line, UAE is currently a CMF partner. That hasn’t changed,” said Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based command.
“Regarding their level of participation as a partner, we leave it to individual partners to speak to that,” Hawkins said, adding that countries move their personnel in and out of the Combined Maritime Forces as part of regular rotations.
The UAE’s announcement followed a Tuesday report in The Wall Street Journal that officials in the Persian Gulf country were frustrated with the United States’ inability to prevent the recent seizure of two commercial oil tankers.
Iran seized ships in the Strait of Hormuz on April 27 and May 3, U.S. officials said at the time.
The U.S. subsequently announced an increase in patrols in the strait.
A U.S. official in the region who was not authorized to speak publicly pointed out that the UAE’s stated time frame for withdrawal is before the two tankers were seized.
The UAE Foreign Affairs Ministry did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for clarification.