Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told media on Wednesday, August 14th, that Iran, together with the Gulf countries can protect the region without the intervention of any foreign forces. Rouhani stressed his continuous refusal to allow the presence of a US maritime security mission in the region.
The US formed an international coalition to monitor and potentially escort commercial ships there. Britain joined the mission after a British-flagged tanker was seized last month. The US believes Iran has played a role in two separate attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June, as it has been pressuring Iran with tight sanctions since the former withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.
The presence of a foreign naval mission is unacceptable to several Arab and foreign world leaders. It was few days ago when Iraqi Foreign Affairs Minister, Mohamed Al-Hakim announced his refusal to allow the presence of foreign forces in the naval corridor and pointed out that Gulf countries collectively, can easily protect the passage of vessels in the naval corridor. Al-Hakim tweeted that his country refuses any Israeli intervention in any military operation to secure the vessels while passing through the Arabian Gulf. Iraq wishes to reduce tension in the region through calm negotiations. “The presence of any strange forces in the region will increase the tension,” he said.
Last week, the Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Israel Katz said his country will participate in the US-led naval mission to provide maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz, where Iran recently seized merchant ships.
The US has invited more than 60 nations to join the US-led mission in the Arabian Gulf. The US believes that Iran is the world’s largest country sponsor of terrorism and has demonstrated its willingness to pull commercial vessels from the sea.
Among foreign allies who refused to join the US-led mission was Germany. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Berlin would not join a US-led mission due to different strategies on Iran. Instead, Maas said the German government is monitoring the EU observer mission in the Arabian Gulf so as to guarantee security interests in the region. "It will definitely take some time to convince the EU to join the US-led mission," Maas said.
Whereas Japan said it would consider how Tokyo could contribute to protecting ships in the strategic thoroughfare. However, Japan would have to take into account its relations with regional actors, including Iran.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that a US official stated that Iran cannot withstand US sanctions as they are seriously affecting its economy. “We want Iran to change its behaviour, for its own welfare. If it fails to do so we will reduce their ability to achieve their own objectives.”
Since May, several tankers have been attacked in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the most trafficked sea passages in the world.