May 19
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UK decision to join the U.S. Gulf Mission has delayed European efforts to create naval forces to ensure safe navigation in the Strait of Hormuz separate from American patrols, Reuters reported referring to the European diplomats.

In July, the UK and France proposed the creation of naval forces under the leadership of Europe, which were supposed to be independent of the US. They received support from Denmark, Italy, and Spain, who feared the American mission due to the escalation of tensions in the US and Iran.

France will make a new attempt on September 16 to organize a mission to protect merchant shipping in the Strait in the hope of gathering about 15 European member states in Paris to discuss the next steps.

But diplomats participating in talks between EU capitals said that an unexpected change in London’s strategy to join the US-led mission adopted by the new government of PM Boris Johnson thwarted progress.

According to a senior EU diplomat, many of us wanted to do this with the UK out of European solidarity and avoid a campaign of maximum US pressure on Iran.

Now everything is suspended because the UK has sided with the Americans, he added.

Given Brexit, London initially sought a mission in which there would be no direct participation of the EU, NATO or the US, but there would be a weaker coalition of European member states, including Norway, outside the EU.

The European mission can be controlled by the French command. France has a naval base in the UAE.

Italy, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Belgium, and Sweden can still join France in a mission led by Europe. The Netherlands evaluates both the US and French proposals, but diplomats said they tend to join the initiative led by Europe.

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