Monday, August 02, 2021

East of Suez Gets Interesting Again

While the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier and her battlegroup heading east of Suez for a bit of showing the flag, with her Dutch and American friends along for comic relief, the Arabian sea the last week seemed to wake up.

The chief of Israel’s armed forces spoke with his British counterpart on Sunday, the Israeli military said, after London accused Iran of carrying out an attack on an Israeli-managed ship off Oman last week that killed a Briton and a Romanian.

Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi and Britain’s Staff General Nick Carter “discussed recent events in the region and common challenges faced by both countries,” said an Israeli military statement...

In case you were not up to speed on the MV Mercer Street incident.

Iran's ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office following a drone attack on an Israeli-linked oil tanker in which two crew, including a British national, were killed.

The ambassador was summoned this morning for a meeting with Foreign Office minister James Cleverly after the UK and US blamed Iran for the strike.


The UK and US have blamed Iran for the attack on the Israeli-linked oil tanker, in which two crew members - a British national and a Romanian citizen - were killed.

The attack happened last Thursday when the tanker MV Mercer Street was off Oman's coast in the Arabian Sea.

Unrelated ... or simply byproducts of a same bubbling stew? Not sure, but what is clear is that the eternal laws of geography and maritime security may take a nap now and then, but they do not sleep.

Britain said on Tuesday it would permanently deploy two warships in Asian waters after its HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier and escort ships sail to Japan in September through seas where China is vying for influence with the United States and Japan.

Plans for the high-profile visit by the carrier strike group come as London deepens security ties with Tokyo, which has expressed growing alarm in recent months over China’s territorial ambitions in the region, including Taiwan.

“Following on from the strike group’s inaugural deployment, the United Kingdom will permanently assign two ships in the region from later this year,” Britain’s Defence Minister Ben Wallace said in a joint announcement in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi.

It looks like they will base out of the already established logistics hub in Duqm, Oman - ~60 miles southwest of the unsinkable aircraft carrier that is Masirah Island. 

What will they do?

The UK will operate two Littoral Response Groups, one deploying to the Euro-Atlantic region and the other deploying to the Indo-Pacific.

This was outlined in the Defence command paper (essentially a defence review) published earlier this year.

“The Royal Navy will be a constant global presence, with more ships, submarines, sailors and marines deployed on an enduring basis, including to protect shipping lanes and uphold freedom of navigation. With support from partners in the Indo-Pacific, Offshore Patrol Vessels will be persistently deployed and a Littoral Response Group (LRG) in 2023 will complement the episodic deployment of our Carrier Strike Group; contributing to regional security and assurance. This will be enabled by the deployment of two Littoral Response Groups; the first in 2021 will be deployed to the Euro-Atlantic under a NATO and JEF construct, while a second will be deployed to the Indo-Pacific region in 2023. They will also be able to deliver training to our partners in regions of the world where maritime security is most challenging.”

Oman seems to be playing a tricky game. She is diplomatically very close to Iran, yet has a long standing security relationship with Britain and has been very helpful to the United States the last few decades. Where does this go? We'll have to watch.

Just an interesting sidenote: everyone is a student of history because you are living every day in its first draft.

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