Monday, 16 September, 2019

Australia joins mission to protect Gulf shipping

The PM has been building significant relations with the US military The PM has been building significant relations with the US military Politics Australia deploys defence to Hormuz strait
Patty Aguilar | 21 August, 2019, 23:28

Australia will send a frigate and a spy plane in support of Washington's dubious initiative to boost security in the Strait of Hormuz by filling it with foreign warships, increasing the risk of miscalculations and provocations.

Australia has joined Great Britain and Bahrain in signing onto a US -led maritime security mission that the USA claimed is aimed at protecting global shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, but Tehran believes the real reason for it is to threaten its interests in the Persian Gulf.

Citing recent incidents involving shipping, he said: "This destabilizing behavior is a threat to Australia's interests in the region".

Morrison stressed that the deployment would be "modest, meaningful and time-limited" while defense experts said it was likely a "re-tasking" of planned deployments to the region to satisfy US requests.

"The government has decided it's in Australia's national interests to work with our global partners to contribute", he told reporters at Parliament House on Wednesday.

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Morrison said Australia would send a "modest" contribution-including a frigate, a P8 maritime surveillance aircraft and support staff-to the mission, which will also involve British and Bahraini forces.

"Fifteen to 16 per cent of crude oil and 25 to 30 per cent of refined oil destined for Australia transits through the Strait of Hormuz", he said. A third of the world's liquefied natural gas and nearly 25% of total global oil consumption passes through the 167-kilometre long stretch of water.

Australia's effort will aid the US -launched the campaign, dubbed Operation Sentinel, which seeks to ensure ships can exercise freedom of navigation through the strategic strait without restraint by hostile forces, a point touched on by Mr. Morrison.

The commitment to join the US comes after tensions simmered in the region over the seizure of an Iranian ship by Gibraltar, with the backing of the UK, that was believed to be heading to Syria in breach of UN sanctions.

However, the prime minister made it clear the mission could be extended. Pompeo today warned Iran that anyone who "touches", supports or allows an Iranian tanker carrying crude oil to dock will risk U.S. sanctions. Iran retaliated by capturing a British oil tanker on July 19. "The United States, which is spearheading a sanctions policy, certainly sees a partner in Israel". Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom backed the USA claim. The UAE said it was acts of sabotage and the U.S. accused the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of being "directly responsible" for the attacks.

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