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‘Don’t walk into Trump’s & his poodle Johnson’s trap’: German govt split over sending navy to Gulf

‘Don’t walk into Trump’s & his poodle Johnson’s trap’: German govt split over sending navy to Gulf
A prospect of German warships being sent to patrol the troubled waters of the Strait of Hormuz has ignited a debate in Berlin. Critics are warning against joining a potential US- and UK-led mission.

Proponents of the London-proposed mission say Germany should take part just because it is an inherent part of global trade. “Hardly any other country is as dependent on the freedom of international shipping as export champion Germany,” former envoy to the US Wolfgang Ischinger told Die Welt. That said, Germans should not just “watch from the sidelines,” he argued.

His words were echoed by the influential Association of German Industries, whose president told the paper that such a mission would be “a question of solidarity among us Europeans.” 

The opposition slammed the proposal, warning that events could ultimately spin out of control. Germany “should not walk into the trap of [US President Donald] Trump and his poodle [UK Prime Minister Boris] Johnson and let itself be led into a conflict or the preparation for a war against Iran,” Sevim Dagdelen, a Left Party MP, was quoted by Deutsche Welle as warning.

The Social Democrats (SPD), the junior coalition partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right coalition government, were equally unappreciative of the idea. Karl-Heinz Brunner, an SPD member of the parliamentary defense committee, said that while maritime shipping is important, securing it could be done through diplomacy.

“In the current situation, military options could contribute to further destabilization," he cautioned.

Later in the day, the US embassy in Berlin told DPA news agency that Washington had formally asked Germany to embark on the mission to “combat Iranian aggression.” The embassy maintained that the government was “clear that freedom of navigation should be protected... Our question is, protected by whom?"

That aside, sending ships to the Gulf could be akin to a ‘mission impossible’ for the military. Last year, it was reported that Germany’s Navy is running out of combat-capable warships and had six out of fifteen frigates decommissioned.

Newer-generation warships are either going through trials or are under construction. 

Last week, the UK called for a joint effort to protect the safety of shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow but important waterway which connects the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean. The call was made shortly after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps seized British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero in the area.

The seizure followed an earlier incident in which British Royal Marines and Gibraltar police seized the Iranian oil supertanker Grace 1 off the southern coast of Spain. London said the ship was suspected of carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, but Tehran denied any wrongdoing.

Also on rt.com 'Disaster for the navy': Germany ‘running out’ of warships

Tehran has lashed out at the prospective European mission, saying that Western nations will jeopardize security in waters mainly shared between Iran, the UAE and Oman. The effort “naturally carries a hostile message, [and] is provocative and will increase tensions,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei was quoted by AFP as saying.

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