The decision was announced on Wednesday, May 3, when US CENTCOM chief Gen. Erik Kurilla was in Israel to discuss expanding cooperation between their militaries. It was delivered by the United Arab Emirates WAM news agency: ” After a two-month in-depth review, the Emirates have decided to withdraw from the international maritime force.”
Gen. Kurila was invited to observe Israel’s two-week long Firm Hand multi-front exercise.
Security sources in the Gulf report that Abu Dhabi was responding to the 34-member force’s failure to take action since the last week of April when Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized two tankers sailing through the Straits of Hormuz. One of them, the Novi was boarded by a hostile Iranian force while en route between the ports of Dubai and Fujarah. The Emirates was said to be disappointed by the absence of a US-led maritime force response, especially when the captured tankers remained at anchor in an Iranian port.
DEBKAfile’s military sources note that the UAE statement does not specify whether it refers simply to withdrawal from the combined force or affects the Emirates’ additional maritime pacts which provide the US with naval bases.