The U.S. has requested naval cooperation from Germany in the Strait of Hormuz as tensions with Iran escalate, but the political leaders of the European nation have refused to assist their NATO allies.
The German Federal Foreign Office said that Washington has approached them to contribute to a new surveillance mission in the Persian Gulf but had rejected the appeal saying there was no prospect of a contribution, German tabloid Bild reports.
Germany’s allies, including the U.S. and the UK, have been attacked in the Persian Gulf by Iran in recent months. and under the doctrine of collective defence guaranteed by the NATO alliance, Germany is duty-bound to come to the aid of its allies if asked. Yet senior members of Angela Merkel’s left-centrist coalition government have made clear working with the U.S. is out of the question.
Iran Slams UK Proposal for European Naval Mission in Gulf as ‘Hostile’ https://t.co/sRwm1K9Y2Y
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 28, 2019
Social Democrat (SPD) foreign policy spokesman Nils Schmid told German newspaper Tagesspiegel that “participation is out of the question,” adding: “Germany will not participate in a U.S. mission.
“We could suddenly find ourselves on the side of the Americans in a war with Iran. European nations should be very careful to keep a distance from the military mission of the Americans.”
Another foreign office source told the tabloid: “Participation in the American strategy of maximum pressure is out of the question for us.” He added the German government was looking instead to use diplomatic means to “de-escalate tensions”. Germany, along with the European Union, has been a keen supporter of the failed Iran nuclear deal, which could be the diplomatic measures to which the spokesman was referring.
A spokesman for the U.S. embassy to Germany confirmed: “We have formally asked Germany to work with France and Britain to help secure the Strait of Hormuz and fight Iranian aggression.”
Germany’s position contrasts strongly with that of South Korea, which is not a member of the NATO alliance, but which nonetheless is considering contributing to the security of the Persian Gulf, Breitbart London reported.
Former Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Secretary of State for Defence Christian Schmidt disagreed on the government’s stance, however. He said of the decision: “Pure observation is not enough; we must also be able to actively protect our merchant ships.” He added that the safe passage of vessels was “existential” for Germany.
Germany, like all developed nations, relies on the free flow of oil tankers that pass through the Strait of Hormuz from the Persian Gulf to the rest of the world. Britain’s Royal Navy describes the bottleneck as one of the most vital waterways in the world for trade, and that one-third of all the world’s oil flows through it in tankers every day.
When Virtue-signalling Goes Wrong: May Turned Down Trump Offer to Protect UK Ships to Please EU https://t.co/kGjUiENqX6
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 22, 2019
U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell has criticised Germany’s lack of participation in foreign NATO operations in the past, telling Breitbart London last year: “It is woeful; Germany is the largest economy in Europe. They made a commitment to NATO, and they should be serious about that commitment; it is a multilateral institution that guarantees the allies, guaranteeing freedom.”
Grenell also noted Germany’s lack of military readiness, stating: “German military officials know that the readiness issue is a serious problem, there are no working submarines, for example; they don’t have a military that is currently ready.”
The German military has seen a number of readiness issues going back years, including an incident in 2014 in which the army was forced to use broom handles in place of firearms during a joint NATO exercise.