USS John C. Stennis
© Reuters / Handout
FILE PHOTO: The USS John C. Stennis, of the Fifth Fleet, transits the Strait of Hormuz in January
The US and its allies began enhanced maritime security patrols in the international waters of the Persian Gulf , amid Washington's tensions with Iran.

The Countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were "specifically increasing communication and coordination with each other in support of regional naval cooperation and maritime security operations in the Arabian Gulf," Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said in a statement on Facebook.

The navies and coast guards of the Arab states "are working in tight coordination with each other and the United States Navy," it added.

The GCC, which has its headquarters in Riyadh, unites Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

Tensions have been high in the Persian Gulf recently as the US has deployed an aircraft carrier group and sent B-52 bombers on patrol there in a move to intimidate Iran.

On Sunday, the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group, whose deployment to the region prompted concerns of military action, carried out exercises in the Gulf to underline its "lethality and agility to respond to [a] threat."

Despite the heavy military build-up, the US keeps assuring that it is not a sign of war preparation. Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, has said that the Kingdom didn't want a military conflict, but was eager to defend itself from Iran.


Comment: Their actions speak more to aggression rather than defense.


Iran's Revolutionary Guards commander, on his part, insisted that Tehran wanted only peace, but wasn't afraid to fight the Americans and their allies.

Earlier, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that there will be no war in the Gulf, but added that Tehran also won't get involved in negotiating a new nuclear deal with Washington.

The Trump administration has been pressuring Iran in order to sign a border agreement that would include not only its nuclear program but ballistic missile developments as well.