Behind the attacks on Israeli merchant ships in the Persian Gulf region, which Jewish state officials suspect Iran is involved in, the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle arrived in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), today, March 26, as part of a deployment that Paris indicated is aimed at “protecting freedom of navigation,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
Last Thursday, the Liberian-flagged but Israeli-owned container ship Lori was rocketed in the Arabian Sea, according to Israeli media reports. This was the second such incident involving an Israeli merchant vessel after another container ship, the MV Helios Ray, suffered a mysterious explosion in the Gulf of Oman on February 26.
Three frigates and a Fifth Republic Navy submarine are escorting the only French aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf as it deploys. The French regularly conduct major exercises around the world as part of their naval operations. The French arrival in the UAE within 24 hours of an alleged Iranian attack on an Israeli container ship is not directly related to the incident, but it illustrates the importance of the presence of U.S., French, and other naval forces to prevent such attacks, or at least to monitor and gather evidence about them and to deter Iran from further attacks. notes The Jerusalem Post.
In recent years, France has been drawing closer to the UAE, Greece, and India, as well as working closely with the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet of Operations in the Middle East region. The French strike group is accompanied by ships from Greece and Belgium as well as the US missile destroyer Porter, the publication adds.