Following the recent announcement by the United Arab Emirates that it is quitting the Joint Maritime Forces led by the United States, Qatari news site Al Jadeed reported Saturday that Iran is forming a new regional maritime alliance.

According to the report, the commander of Iran’s naval forces, Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, said the maritime alliance between Iran, Russia and China led to the recognition of the need for a regional security alliance.

“Today, the countries of the region have reached the point that if security is to be maintained in the region, it must be done through synergy and mutual cooperation,” Irani said.

“In this regard, new alliances are taking shape regionally and internationally,” he continued.

When asked which countries could be part of the new alliance, Irani did not specifically state which countries have agreed, however, stated that, “We have previously worked together with Oman, and now Saudi Arabia is moving in this direction, and there are also the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Pakistan and India.”

On Friday evening, Irani made a televised announcement on Iranian TV, saying that Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Iraq would soon form a new maritime alliance to patrol the North Indian Ocean.

While the Qatari news site claimed that China was overseeing the development of the alliance, Admiral Irani did not specifically claim Chinese oversight in his televised comments.

However, China has taken a more aggressive position toward achieving regional goals, as is seen in its work to bring about rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Gerard Filitti, senior counsel at the Lawfare Project and a national security and counterterrorism expert, told National Review magazine that “if this [the new maritime alliance] is meant to be a defensive navy, that’s … concerning.”

He also said the move is most likely meant “to snub the U.S., even Joe Biden.”

“In the absence of leadership, China has stepped in,” Filitti said, allegedly referring to U.S. weakness to take action under the Biden administration.

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