geopolitics-00825
French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle cruises in the Mediterranean sea, March 7, 2019 © Reuters / Jean-Paul Pelissier

The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle arrived in the Gulf waters as part of a mission to combat the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) terrorist group and to promote “freedom of navigation” in maritime areas that witnessed increased tension.

The carrier left the port of Toulon, southeastern France, last month on a new mission to the eastern Mediterranean and from there to the Indian Ocean later as part of the “North” operation, referring to the French contribution to the international coalition fighting ISIS.

“The mission includes showing that we are able to deploy the aircraft carrier strike group wherever we decide,” said the commander of the Naval Air Group escorting the aircraft carrier, Mark Oceda.

He added that the message of this operation is to reaffirm “freedom of navigation,” according to what the French Ministry of the Armies confirmed when announcing the mission.

The French general said in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi: “I can confirm with what we saw, that we did so without any hindrance.”

This mission, which I called “Clemenceau 21”, comes after a period of tension in the eastern Mediterranean, while the United States and Saudi Arabia repeatedly accuse Iran of impeding freedom of navigation in the Gulf.

In addition to two frigates, a supply ship and a French submarine, the aircraft carrier is accompanied by a Belgian frigate, a Greek frigate and an American destroyer.

The French Ministry of Armies had stated that the carrier’s crew of 1,200 sailors had received the coronavirus vaccine, and that two-thirds of the crew had contracted the virus last year.