US urges Belgium to help secure shipping passage against Iranian threats in the Persian Gulf
Wednesday, 31 July 2019
Leopold 1 testing its 'seasparrow missiles' and its main gun during exercises in June.
Credit: Belgian Navy
The US has formally called for Belgium to participate in an operation to safeguard international ships from potential Iranian threats.
Following last week’s Iranian seizure of British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, and amid rising tensions between the US and Iran, the US is reaching out to its allies in order to create an international coalition to secure the international waters outside the Persian Gulf from potential Iranian threats.
Having already been contacted informally in June, more formal steps are now being taken, according to a Belga news agency source.
Belgium’s Foreign Minister, Didier Reynders, has informed the government that the Belgian army is currently assessing the request, reports De Morgen.
Belgium’s navy has two frigates at its disposal – The Leopold I and Louise-Marie – which have in the past been deployed outside the Somali coast.
It is not clear if Belgium will participate. “Such an important military deployment must be discussed and voted on in parliament,” Peter Buysrogge, chairman of the Defense commission in the federal parliament told De Morgen.
Meanwhile two British warships have already been sent to the strait. The Netherlands is considering sending one of its own frigates, while Germany and France are offering logistical support.
The President of Iran, Hassan Rohani, has responded saying that “the presence of foreign troops in the Gulf will not make the situation safer but just cause more tensions,” and that “Iran expects all EU states not to support these provocative proposals.”