Britain joins United States for maritime security mission in Gulf

Published August 6, 2019
“It is vital to secure the freedom for all international shipping to navigate the Strait of Hormuz without delay." — AFP/File
“It is vital to secure the freedom for all international shipping to navigate the Strait of Hormuz without delay." — AFP/File

LONDON: Britain on Monday joined the United States in a maritime security mission in the Gulf to protect merchant vessels travelling through the Strait of Hormuz after Iran seized a British-flagged vessel.

British officials stressed that there was no change to London’s policy on Iran but joining the United States is the most significant non-Brexit foreign policy move to date of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 12-day-old government.

Just two weeks ago, Britain was calling for a European-led naval mission.

Now, it has joined what it said was a US-led “international maritime security mission”. No other nations are yet involved.

“It is vital to secure the freedom for all international shipping to navigate the Strait of Hormuz without delay, given the increased threat,” said British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

“The deployment of Royal Navy assets is a sign of our commitment to our UK flagged vessels and we look forward to working alongside the US and others to find an international solution to the problems in the Strait of Hormuz.

Tanker traffic through the Strait — through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes — has become the focus for a standoff between Iran and the United States, which has beefed up its military presence in the Gulf since May.

Last month, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized a British tanker, Stena Impero, near the Strait of Hormuz for alleged marine violations.

That came two weeks after Britain seized an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar, accusing it of violating sanctions on Syria.

Britain has repeatedly ruled out any exchange.

The tanker dispute has tangled the United Kingdom in the diplomatic differences between the EU’s big powers — which want to preserve the Iran nuclear deal — and the United States which has pushed for a tougher policy on Iran.

“Our approach to Iran hasn’t changed,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

“We remain committed to working with Iran and our international partners to de-escalate the situation and maintain the nuclear deal.”

A British source said the focus of the new mission would be protecting the security of shipping and Britain would not be joining US sanctions against Iran.

Another British source said London hoped the US-led mission would transition towards a European-led mission.

The United Kingdom has also offered to lead one of the US-led missions maritime task groups. No other nations have signed up to the US mission.

Britain has deployed a destroyer HMS Duncan and a frigate HMS Montrose to the Gulf to accompany UK-flagged vessels through the strait. So far, 47 ships have been accompanied by the naval vessels, British officials said.

Later this year, another Type 23 Frigate, HMS Kent, will take over from HMS Duncan, while HMS Montrose completes plan­ned maintenance. HMS Montrose will remain stationed in the Middle East until 2022.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2019

Opinion

Viral violence
Updated 25 Feb 2021

Viral violence

How many more brutal videos must be uploaded for us to put an end to torture?
The political chessboard
Updated 24 Feb 2021

The political chessboard

It is now hard for the PTI to defend itself from the opposition’s onslaught.

Editorial

IHK & human rights
Updated 25 Feb 2021

IHK & human rights

If India continues to be pampered and the Kashmiris’ plight ignored, peace in South Asia will remain a distant dream.
25 Feb 2021

A better law

THAT the Sindh Police has taken an initiative to bring improvements to the criminal justice system is a positive...
25 Feb 2021

Power breakdown report

A NEPRA inquiry into last month’s power breakdown that left almost the entire country without electricity for up ...
Return of militancy
Updated 24 Feb 2021

Return of militancy

Extremism is a hydra-headed monster that needs a sustained, multifaceted approach to vanquish.
24 Feb 2021

FDI decrease

THE more permanent and non-debt-creating FDI inflows to Pakistan have shrunk by a whopping 27pc to a meagre $1.1bn ...
24 Feb 2021

Myanmar protests

THE protests against Myanmar’s Feb 1 military coup have refused to die down, with hundreds of thousands of people...