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Boris Johnson signs onto US maritime plan against Iran

On Monday Britain parted ways with its European allies by supporting US involvement in a proposed maritime task force for accompanying ships in the Strait of Hormuz in anticipation of an escalation in the conflict with Iran.

Published: July 31, 2019, 11:27 am

    London

    The new approach was freshly elected Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s first signal that his new government will align with the United States against Europe as Britain responds to Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged ship two weeks ago.

    The re-alignment is a slap in the face of Britain’s European partners who insist the United States must stay out of Europe’s response to Iran’s actions.

    The unexpected shift in policy came on Monday when the new Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab argued that American participation is necessary for the success of a naval task force in the Middle East.

    But Nils Schmid, a foreign affairs spokesman for the SPD parliamentary party, in an interview with Stuttgarter Zeitung, warned against an escalation: “The German government has already rejected participation in the US military mission, Operation Sentinel, to protect shipping in the strait of Hormuz. It should stay like that. Otherwise, there is a risk of being pulled into a war against Iran on the side of the United States.”

    France has also refused to join any US mission against Iran.

    The initial British seizure of the Iranian tanker off Gibraltar was totally illegal, says pundit Craig Murray. The Iranian response to the seizure of its tanker, by seizing a British Tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, was even though illegal, an understandable as a reaction, Murray noted.

    “The implications for the global economy of the collapse of the crucial international law on passage through straits would be devastating,” he added. “The US Navy frequently sails through the Taiwan Strait to assert the right of passage though straits.”

    Keeping the Strait of Hormuz open is perhaps the most crucial of all to the world economy, according to Murray.

    “Irrespective of territorial waters, is an absolutely essential pillar of international maritime law and international order. The Strait of Gibraltar is vital and Britain has absolutely no right to close it to Iran or Syria. If the obligation on coastal states to keep maritime straits open were lost, it would lead to economic dislocation and even armed conflict worldwide.”

    Murray explained that there are only two circumstances in which the UK could intercept the Iranian ship in the Strait of Gibraltar legally. “One would be in pursuance of a resolution by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. There is no such resolution in force.

    “The second would be in the case of a war between the UK and Iran or Syria. No such state of war exists – and even then naval blockade must be limited by the humanitarian measures of the San Remo Convention.”

    Iran meanwhile launched a cartoon exhibition mocking the UK. The “Pirates of the Queen” saw more than a dozen cartoons on display, portraying Britain as a fox – a reference to the Persian term “the Old Fox”, which is often used by Iranians to to describe Britain.

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