Saudi Arabia joins international maritime security coalition in the Gulf

Oil tankers on the Strait of Hormuz off the shores of Tibat in Oman. Credit: MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia announced its decision to join the US-led International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), which strives to ensure freedom of navigation and safe passage through the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia’s decision comes after months of violence and vessel seizures in the region, including attacks on four tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and the capture of UK-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero by Iran, which declared it would free the tanker this week.

The IMSC’s remit covers the straits of Hormuz and Bab al-Mandab, as well as the Sea of Oman and the Gulf. The Strait of Hormuz is the busiest narrow shipping passage in the world and 20% of the world’s oil passes through it annually.

Australia, Bahrain, and the United Kingdom have joined the IMSC ahead of Saudi Arabia’s announcement. According to the Saudi Press Agency, the country’s decision to participate was based on its “declared support for regional and international efforts to deter threats to maritime safety”.

“The Kingdom will work with its allies to ensure the security of energy routes and the continued flow of supplies to the global economy, and to maintain international peace and security,” the Saudi Press Agency said.

Meanwhile, it was announced on 27 September that Stena Impero has left the Iranian port where it has been anchored since 20 July. The UK joined the IMSC in early August – just weeks after the ship was seized in the Strait of Hormuz.