The recent attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz were a potent reminder of the need for the Gulf Arab countries as well as their neighbors and international partners to address an issue of fundamental importance to the region: maritime security.
Until recently, most Gulf Arab countries paid scant attention to maritime security, despite its centrality to their economies. However, the situation has changed considerably in the last decade, as a result of a realization that their lack of military readiness in the Gulf waters and Indian Ocean is a substantial vulnerability. Regional ambitions and a desire to participate in international security initiatives also have served as catalysts for Gulf Arab states’ action.
Yet, even as tensions in and around the Gulf have grown so has a perception that maritime security may provide a sorely needed starting point for discussions between Gulf Arab states and Iran. How do recent events in the Gulf of Oman and elsewhere around the Arabian Peninsula figure into the broader context of regional maritime security? Do the Gulf Arab states share the same threat perceptions and agree on the remedies? What role can international partners play in helping to ensure freedom of navigation in these waterways, which are crucial to global commerce?
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