The Guardian has quoted unnamed Whitehall sources as saying that the UK’s proposal to create an international mission in the Persian Gulf is “still alive” despite new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sacking Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s in the reshuffle of the government.
Last week, Hunt proposed sending a European maritime security force to the Gulf in order to secure the maritime routes off the coasts of Iran and Yemen, something that is also suggested by the US.
The sources said that London had offered military representatives of the US, France and other EU members to discuss the matter at a meeting in Bahrain slated for later on Wednesday.
Earlier, Washington’s request for Berlin to join France and the UK in a US military mission in the Strait of Hormuz was rejected by Germany's Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.
“I’m very sceptical about that, and I think that’s a scepticism that many others share”, Scholz told the German news network ZDF, arguing that the mission may fuel military escalation in the Gulf. “That’s why I think this is not a good idea”, he stressed.
Even though the US earlier said in a statement said that the UK and France committed to sending their warships to “secure the Strait of Hormuz and combat Iranian aggression”, an agreement on any joint mission in the Strait of Hormuz has yet to be clinched.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi has, meanwhile, emphasised that Persian Gulf states are solely responsible for cooperation on regional security. According to him, the root of all tensions in the Persian Gulf was the presence of outside countries in the region.
Tensions in the Gulf region have been on the rise since the US sent its aircraft carrier strike group and additional troops to the area in May in a “direct message” to Tehran, which earlier announced its partial suspension of its obligations under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The subsequent downing of a US spy drone by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) further sparked the Gulf tensions, which were also fuelled by the IRGC seizing the UK-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19 over an alleged breach of international maritime regulations.
This came two weeks after Iran's own Grace 1 oil tanker had been captured by UK marines over an alleged breach of EU anti-Syria sanctions. In a recent interview with the BBC, the tanker’s captain accused the marines of using what he described as “brute force” during the tanker’s seizure.