A US-led naval coalition officially launched operations in Bahrain on Thursday to protect shipping in the Gulf waters, after a string of attacks.
The coalition, aimed at warding off a perceived threat to the world’s oil supply, has been in the making since June. Iran has denied any responsibility for the mystery attacks and has put forward its own proposals for boosting Gulf security, which exclude outside powers.
Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, joined the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) in August. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates followed suit in September.
Australia and Britain are the main Western countries to have agreed to send warships to escort Gulf shipping.
The newest member, Albania, joined on Friday, AFP reports.
Vessels will be escorted through the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic chokepoint at the head of the Gulf and the main artery for the transport of Middle East oil.