The UAE “withdrew its participation” in the 38-nation Combined Maritime Forces two months ago, a foreign ministry statement said, without giving reasons for the move.
“As a result of our ongoing evaluation of effective security cooperation with all partners, two months ago, the UAE withdrew its participation in the Combined Maritime Forces,” said the statement carried by the official WAM news agency.
The Bahrain-headquartered CMF was established in 2001, initially as a partnership between 12 nations. It is active in crucial but troubled Gulf waters where tankers have been seized and attacked in recent months.
A spokesperson for the Combined Maritime Forces said the UAE remains a partner nation, despite putting its participation on hold.
“The CMF still includes 38 partner nations, of which the UAE is one,” Commander Timothy Hawkins told AFP.
Iran seized two tankers in a week in late April and early May, including one empty ship that was traveling between the UAE ports of Dubai and Fujairah.
Iran was also accused of launching a drone attack against an Israeli-owned tanker in November 2022, stoking tensions with the United States.
Earlier this month, the US said it was sending reinforcements to the Gulf, which carries at least a third of the world’s sea-borne oil, after what it called increasing harassment by Iran.
The commander of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, Vice-Admiral Brad Cooper, later transited through the Strait of Hormuz in a guided-missile destroyer along with British and French naval commanders.
Iran responded by saying it is capable of ensuring the safety of Gulf waters in cooperation with neighboring countries.
“The UAE remains committed to responsibly ensuring the safety of navigation in its seas,” the UAE statement said, adding that the major oil exporter is “committed to peaceful dialogue and diplomatic engagement.”