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JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Several Gulf and Middle Eastern countries have combined with a number of African nations for a joint military drill in Saudi Arabia, amidst heightened tensions in the region following devastating attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure.

Navy forces from Gulf and Mideastern states Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Yemen, have joined with the northeastern African country of Sudan, and two Horn of Africa countries, Somalia and Djibouti, for the drill which got underway on Sunday.

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The Red Wave 2 exercise “aims to unify and enhance the maritime security of the countries bordering the Red Sea, protect territorial waters and strengthen military cooperation,” Commander of the Saudi Western Fleet Vice Admiral Saqr bin Mohammed Al-Harbi was quoted as saying by Saudi Arabia’s official SPA news agency on Monday.

The drill also aims, he said, to enhance cooperation and standardization of military concepts, raise combat readiness and exchange experiences between the participating countries.

The military drill follows the Saturday 14 September 2019 attacks on the Saudi Aramco plants in Saudi Arabia, which sharply impacted global oil supplies. The al-Houthi rebels fighting a war in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks, however, the United States and Saudi Arabia say they were originated by Iran. The UK on Monday also said there was Ra ‘high probability’ that Iran was behind the attacks. Tehran, however, has denied any role in the attacks.

The U.S. on Friday announced it was sending troops to Saudi Arabia and the UAE at the request of those two countries.

On December 12, Saudi Arabia announced a new alliance with seven countries from Gulf, Middle East, Northeast and Horn of Africa, those most of them bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, a strategic area vital to global shipping and increasingly an arena of contention with regional rivals like Iran, Turkey, and Qatar.

This coalition was excluded Eritrea and Somaliland, the two most strategic countries and have the longest coastline in the Red Sea. Eritrea with has 1,150-kilometers (715 miles) of Red Sea coastline and Somaliland has 850 kilometers (528.166 miles) of the Red Sea coastline.

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