Monday, 19 August, 2019

Iraq slams Israel participation in Gulf naval mission

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim attends a meeting with his Egyptian and Jordanian counterparts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad Iraq Iran warns of war if 'Zionists' enter the Persian Gulf
Patty Aguilar | 13 August, 2019, 17:02

Iraq "rejects any participation of forces of the Zionist entity in any military force to secure passage of ships in the Arabian Gulf", Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim wrote on social media on Monday. "The existence of Western forces in the region will raise tensions", he added.

Last week, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said they would help the us -led effort to "protect the security of the Persian Gulf".

The comments came after Israel said it will join a U.S. maritime coalition in the Persian Gulf, which the United States says is aimed at boosting the security of navigation in the body of water.

Katz said Israel's participation would help to contain the Iranian threat as well as boost ties in the Gulf region.

On Sunday, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's navy, which since last month has three tankers in the Gulf, warned that "any illegitimate presence by the Zionists in the waters of the Persian Gulf could spark a war".

Last week, the Israeli government said it is planning to cooperate with an American initiative to provide protection for commercial vessels in the Persian Gulf region.

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Katz didn't claim Israel had ships in the Persian Gulf.

Tensions in the region have been rising recently following the seizure of a British oil tanker by Iran in the strategic Strait of Hormuz and drone confrontations between Iran and the United States over the Gulf.

US Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on July 9 that the US was proceeding with plans to assemble the coalition purportedly aimed at ensuring freedom of navigation in waters off Iran and Yemen.

Tehran and Washington have been locked in a battle of nerves since US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran a year ago and reimposed sanctions.

The US and its Gulf allies have accused the Islamic Republic of the tanker attacks. "But we are committed to upholding freedom of navigation and reassuring worldwide shipping, which this deployment on operations aims to do", said Andy Brown, the ship's commanding officer.

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