UAE Joins U.S.-led Coalition to Protect Mideast Waterways

The Emirates are entering a coalition with Saudi Arabia, Australia, Bahrain and the U.K., which was formed after attacks on oil tankers that U.S. officials blame on Iran

A U.S. Marine observes an Iranian fast attack craft in the Strait of Hormuz, near Oman, July 18, 2019.

The United Arab Emirates says it has joined a U.S.-led coalition to protect waterways across the Mideast after an attack on Saudi oil installations.

The state-run WAM news agency announced the UAE's decision in a statement Thursday.

It quoted Salem al-Zaabi of the Emirati Foreign Ministry as saying the UAE joined the coalition to "ensure global energy security and the continued flow of energy supplies to the global economy."

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Saudi Arabia joined the coalition on Wednesday. Australia, Bahrain and the United Kingdom also are taking part.

The U.S. formed the coalition after attacks on oil tankers that American officials blame on Iran, as well as Iran's seizure of tankers in the region. Iran denies being behind the tanker explosions.

On Monday, Iran's Revolutionary Guards seized a vessel in the Gulf for allegedly smuggling 250,000 litres of diesel fuel to the United Arab Emirates, Iran's semi-official Students News agency ISNA reported.

The Saudi oil installation attack Saturday has further heightened Mideast tensions.

Iran, which has denied involvement in the attack, warned the U.S. it will retaliate immediately if it is targeted.