Home » China, Russia and Iran Project Naval Might During Drills in the Gulf of Oman
Featured Global News News Russia United States

China, Russia and Iran Project Naval Might During Drills in the Gulf of Oman

Naval forces from China, Iran and Russia — countries at odds with the United States — are staging joint military drills in the Gulf of Oman that Beijing says will “help deepen practical cooperation”.

A number of other countries are also taking part in the “Security Bond-2023” exercises, the Chinese ministry said without giving details.

Iran, Pakistan, Oman and the United Arab Emirates all have coastlines along the water body lying at the mouth of the strategically significant Persian Gulf.

“This exercise will help deepen practical cooperation between the participating countries’ navies … and inject positive energy into regional peace and stability,” the ministry statement said.

Key points:

  • The exercises are scheduled to run from Wednesday through until Sunday
  • They come amid heightened tensions between the US and China over a range of issues
  • The White House says the US is not concerned by the joint training exercises

US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Wednesday that the White House was not concerned by the joint training exercises.

Mr Kirby said the US and other nations conducted training exercises all the time, noting Security Bond-2023 would not be the first time that Russian and Chinese forces had trained together.

“We’re going to watch it, we’ll monitor it, obviously, to make sure that there’s no threat resulting from this training exercise to our national security interests or those of our allies and partners in the region,” Mr Kirby said on CNN.

“But nations train. We do it all the time. We’ll watch it as best we can.”

The exercises, scheduled for Wednesday through Sunday, come amid heightened tensions between the US and China over a range of issues, including China’s refusal to criticise Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine and continuing support for the Russian economy.

The US and its allies have condemned the invasion, imposed punishing economic sanctions on Russia and supplied Ukraine with defensive arms.

Iran and the US have been adversaries since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979 and the taking of US diplomats as hostages.

China has dispatched the guided missile destroyer Nanning to take part in the drills, centred on search and rescue at sea and other non-combat missions.

China maintains its only foreign military base, complete with a navy pier, in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, just across from the Arabian Peninsula.

A large warship sits on the ocean.
The three countries held similar drills last year and in 2019.(Reuters: Mohsen Ataei/Fars news agency/WANA)

Last week, China hosted talks between Iran and its chief Middle Eastern rival Saudi Arabia that resulted in an agreement between to restore full diplomatic relations after seven years of tensions.

While the US and Saudi Arabia have longstanding military and political ties, relations have frayed over the 2018 killing of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom’s leadership, and cuts in production by the OPEC+ oil cartel that the US said was helping Russia.

China’s hosting of the Iran-Saudi talks placed it in the unusual role of mediator in regional conflicts, one that Beijing appears to be keen to capitalise on under the rubric of President Xi Jinping’s “Global Security Initiative.”

The country’s Special Envoy for Horn of Africa Affairs, Xue Bing, said it “further affirmed China’s readiness to work with countries in the region to contribute to peaceful regional development and build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future by implementing the outlook,” according to the Xinhua state news agency.

China opposed “geopolitical competition by external forces [and] has no intention to and will not seek to fill the so-called vacuum or put up exclusive blocs,” Mr Xue was quoted as saying.

Source: ABC News