News ID: 256650
Published: 1013 GMT July 31, 2019
Germany rules out participation in US strategy of maximum pressure on Iran

Germany sees split in European effort to cool Persian Gulf tensions

Germany sees split in European effort to cool Persian Gulf tensions
A US Marine observes an Iranian fast attack craft from USS John P. Murtha during a Strait of Hormuz transit, in this picture released by US Navy on July 18, 2019.

The unified European approach to resolving tensions in the Persian Gulf showed signs of strain, with a senior German official warning that the UK may be drifting closer to an American-led operation that had previously been rebuffed by the governments in Paris and London.

Boris Johnson's rise to become British prime minister last week could put a nascent European Union mission in jeopardy.

That is according to Johann Wadephul, a lawmaker with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, who holds a senior position on the foreign affairs committee, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

He cited comments by Johnson's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab that he said undermined any EU initiative.

"The new government appears to have changed course to align with the Americans," Wadephul said in an interview. "The US is pursuing a completely different path than the one we are."

Raab told The Times over the weekend that any EU naval mission wouldn't be "viable" without US support.

On Monday, he told BBC Radio that he wanted as broad a coalition as possible.

Simmering tensions with Iran is driving a wedge between the US and its European allies, with the UK and France last week essentially opting out of the US-backed "Operation Sentinel."


De-escalation of tensions


The US has asked Germany to join Strait of Hormuz security mission, but Social Democrats warn of “risk of being pulled into a war against Iran,” AP reported.

President Donald Trump's administration ratcheted up pressure on Merkel on Tuesday, with a statement from the US Embassy saying it had formally sought help from Germany, France and the UK to secure the Strait of Hormuz.

The German Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the country hasn't promised any contribution but is "in close consultation with France and Great Britain."

The Foreign Ministry gave no details of the US plan, but said "priority must be given to a de-escalation of tensions and diplomatic efforts."

It says "participation in the American strategy of maximum pressure is out of the question for us," referring to the US approach to Iran.

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said Iran believed the security of the oil-rich Persian Gulf had to be maintained by countries in the region.

EU governments last week floated an alternative European maritime initiative separate from the American project.


European approach


Germany doubled down on its position and all but ruled out the new US request to help secure the vital shipping artery through the Persian Gulf.

Nils Schmid, a Social Democratic lawmaker on the Foreign Affairs Committee in Germany's Lower House, said he would only side with a non-military EU effort in the region.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas ruled out participating in a US-led proposal during a closed-door meeting with lawmakers last week, he said.

"Europeans don't want to go along with this confrontational logic of the US government," Schmid said in an interview on Tuesday.

Merkel's CDU, which governs on the federal level with the Social Democrats, is less resistant to a military-oriented mission. Lawmaker Wadephul said that, for now, he could support German aerial surveillance involvement.

But unlike the British and French military, German participation in foreign missions has to be approved by the Lower House of Parliament, or Bundestag, meaning that Social Democratic opposition rules out any such move.



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