The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a regional organization of six Persian Gulf monarchies, began Saturday “enhanced security patrols” in this maritime region, reports the Fifth US Fleet based in Bahrain, Sunday.
The GCC countries have “in particular increased their communications and coordination to support regional naval cooperation and maritime security operations in the Persian Gulf,” said the command of the Fifth Fleet on Facebook.
The announcement comes as Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of having ordered two explosive-charged drones to attack oil pumping stations at a Saudi oilfield on Tuesday.
This air raid was claimed by Shiite Huthi militiamen in Yemen who are lined up on Tehran. It followed “sabotage” operations that targeted four ships off the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, including two Saudi oil companies, in the context of increased regional tensions.
Saudi Arabia, which convened an emergency summit of Gulf Arab states on May 30 in Jeddah, said Sunday that it wanted to avoid a conflict with Iran, its rival in the region, while claiming to be ready to respond with “all the strength” needed.
The Iranian authorities have denied any involvement in drone attacks and sabotage.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want and does not seek war in the region,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Joubeir told reporters.
“We will do everything in our power to prevent this war and we reaffirm at the same time that if they choose war, the Kingdom will react with all the strength and determination necessary and will defend itself and its interests,” he added.
A Houthi military official said the “military operation was a response to the continued aggression and blockade” imposed by the Yemeni coalition.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have led a Sunni military coalition that has been operating in Yemen since 2015 in an attempt to bring back to power the government recognized by the international community, overthrown by the Houthis the previous year and forced to leave the capital Sanaa.
The war in Yemen is considered a proxy war between the two powers of the region, Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran.