The waters of the Arabian Gulf, the passage through the Strait of Hormuz and into the Arabian Sea to the east carry ships and tankers that are the lifeblood of the global oil and petrochemical market. Vessels carrying oil products voyage to Asia and Europe, their cargoes powering plants that keep lights burning, wheels turning, manufacturing plants moving and keeping countless millions at work.
As recent events in this region have shown, even the slightest incident can have implications on the price of oil, leading to speculation and fluctuation. And following the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil processing facilities that have temporarily impacted supplies, it’s essential more than ever that supplies get to markets unimpeded and without incident.
In recent months, six tankers have been targeted in two separate incidents. Other vessels transiting the waters of this region have also been harassed or seized by Iranian authorities to further their own ends. Whatever the reasoning for these incidents, the continued flow of ships and their cargoes is paramount – there can be no interruptions to this vital maritime trade and it is incumbent on oil producers to be able to get their product to markets around the globe.
Following the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil processing facilities that temporarily impacted supplies, it’s essential more than ever that supplies get to markets unimpeded and without incident
Trade and vessels are essential to the global market, and it is therefore a global responsibility to ensure that this supply is maintained. For that very reason, the US has formed the International Maritime Security Construct – a loose coalition of nations that are willing to pool resources to ensure that the vessels transiting from the Arabian Gulf to the global marketplace can do so unimpeded and without hindrance. It’s a pragmatic and effective solution to ensure that the global oil supply chain continues to function in the face of challenges for the time being.
The Construct is gaining traction. Saudi Arabia joined on Wednesday and Australia, Bahrain and the UK have also committed to assist. So far, members have committed troops, planes and vessels to ensure the safe passage of tankers and their vital cargoes transiting through this region without undue actions from Iranian waters.
The UAE too has committed to joining. As Salem Mohammed Al Zaabi, the Director of the International Security Cooperation Department at the ministry of Foreign Affairs noted, the UAE has joined the coalition to “ensure global energy security and the continued flow of energy supplies to the global economy.” That’s a rationale few can argue with.