07:52 GMT +315 November 2019
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    Norway Straddles the Fence Over US Call to Send Warships to Persian Gulf

    © AFP 2019 / YIANNIS KOURTOLGOU
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    As a dutiful NATO member, Norway has participated in over 40 military operations abroad, becoming a staple in recent US-led missions, including the Balkans, Mali, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and Syria.

    Norway has been asked to contribute to a military coalition that the US is working to assemble in order to escort tankers through the Strait of Hormuz, national broadcaster NRK reported. However, whether Norwegian naval vessels will be sent to the Persian Gulf remains unclear.

    Norway's Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide confirmed that her country has been asked to contribute militarily to the nascent coalition.

    “I can confirm that Norway has received a request from the US to contribute to some form of mechanism in order to strengthen the safety of shipping through the Hormuz Strait”, Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide told NRK.

    Despite repeatedly voicing her concern at the development and the military escalation taking place in the Gulf area, Søreide assumed a wait-and-see stance.

    “The fact that the US has undertaken this initiative is positive, but it is too early to say anything about any Norwegian contribution. For us to more closely discuss any possible participation with the US and other allies, there must be more clarity in the framework for this cooperation”, Søreide pointed out.

    Norway is known for its wide contribution to international coalitions. Since 1947, the Scandinavian country has participated in over 40 military operations abroad, and over 120,000 Norwegian troops have served in these operations. Norway has dutifully supported most recent NATO operations, including missions in Lebanon, the Balkans, Mali, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and Syria. In 2009, Norway sent frigates to secure maritime traffic against pirate attacks outside Somalia in the Horn of Africa.

    In May 2019, four tankers belonging to Norway, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, were badly damaged as a result of several explosions in the Gulf of Oman. Despite the fact that a UAE-led investigation failed to determine the culprit behind the “sabotage”, as well as Teheran's vehement denial, the US rushed to baselessly pin the explosions on Iran. As an answer to the US' belligerent rhetoric, Iran responded by shooting down a US drone.

    ​​Amid rising tensions between the US and Iran in the Persian Gulf, where almost a third of the world's oil transport happens, the US is attempting to build a military coalition in order to “secure maritime traffic”. In the words of US General Joseph Dunford, in the course of the next few weeks US will find out which countries “have the political will” to support the it.

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    Attack on Tankers in Gulf of Oman (61)

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    navy, United States, Iran, Strait of Hormuz, Persian Gulf, Norway
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