Three of the United States’ top international adversaries have partnered to perform military exercises in the Middle East, according to a statement by China’s Ministry of Defense.
China, Russia, and Iran are preparing to cooperate their offensive postures off the Middle Eastern coast in a series of exercises dubbed “Security Bond-2023.” The four-day initiative runs through March 19 and will demonstrate the naval capacity of all three countries operating in a coordinated effort against a common enemy.
In its announcement, the Chinese Defense Ministry said the exercises would “help deepen practical cooperation between the participating countries’ navies … and inject positive energy into regional peace and stability.”
White House officials are monitoring the situation but so far have expressed no concerns that the effort by all three countries is meant to escalate or inflame conflicts between the United States and its three oft-seen rivals in global affairs.
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby sought to allay fears Wednesday morning:
“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,” Kirby said on CNN. “But nations train. We do it all the time. We’ll watch it as best we can.”
Tensions between the West and all three Eastern nations have risen in recent years as the result of provocative postures taken over Covid-19, human rights abuses, and the war in Ukraine.
Chinese officials continue to stymie international efforts to explore the possibility that Covid-19 was the result of a leak at the Wuhan research lab. The US continues to sanction Iran and its top government officials for the use of live ammunition to quell peaceful protests at home. Russia, which recently passed the one-year mark since its invasion of Ukraine, continues to face a barrage of international sanctions and economic pressure led by the US, an effort that has so far maintained bipartisan support in Washington.