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Monday, April 21, 2008       Free Headline Alerts

U.S. and Gulf allies in exercise to block ships carrying WMDs

ABU DHABI — The United States has held a rare naval exercise with Gulf states which it said was not directed at Iran.

The U.S. Navy began the exercise on April 19 meant to test Gulf Cooperation Council capabilities to block the entry of ships that carry weapons of mass destruction, Middle East Newsline reported.

This was the second such exercise in the Gulf in as many years. Officials said Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar participated in the exercise while representatives of Egypt, Jordan, Oman and Saudi Arabia observed.

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GCC sources stressed that the exercise was not meant against any country, including neighboring Iran. They said the maneuvers were planned a year ago and meant to improve U.S. Navy interoperablity with Gulf Arab allies as well as improve their capabilities in stop-and-search operations.

The United States has urged GCC allies to conduct regional military exercises in an effort to bolster security. So far, Bahrain and Kuwait were said to be the most willing, but the effort was hampered by Saudi Arabia.

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