Iraq slams Israel’s participation in Persian Gulf naval mission
Iraq has rejected any Israeli participation in a naval force led by the US to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, stressing that its involvement will only increase tensions in the region.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim wrote on Twitter on Monday that Iraq “rejects any participation of forces of the Zionist entity in any military force to secure passage of ships” in the Persian Gulf, aljazeera.com reported.
All of the regional states are able to ensure the safe passage of ships in the Persian Gulf, Hakim stressed, adding that while “Iraq seeks to decrease tensions in our region through quiet negotiations, the existence of Western forces in the region will raise tensions.”
His remarks came after Israeli media reported last week that Tel Aviv will join what the US claims an effort to boost security of navigation in the Persian Gulf.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Wednesday that Israel is part of the US-led coalition to “protect the security of the Persian Gulf,” Ynet reported.
He added that “Iraq will work to lower tensions in our region through calm negotiations”, while “the presence of Western forces in the region would raise tensions”.
Iraq’s rejection of any Israeli participation in the mission echoes that of Iran, which last week repeatedly slammed Katz’s announcement.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said on Friday that possible Israeli presence in the coalition in the Persian Gulf is a clear threat against Iran’s national security, stressing that Tehran reserves the right to counter the move.
On Friday, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami stressed that “the military coalition that America is seeking to form with the excuse of securing maritime transport will only increase insecurity in the region,” adding that Israel’s involvement would be “highly provocative and [could] have disastrous consequences for the region.”
That Iraq has joined criticism of Israel’s involvement in the region is likely also a bid to appear tough on Israel.
The US has so far failed to convince its allies to join the coalition amid its attempts to trouble Iran’s foreign oil sales as part of its sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic.
Washington has called on Japan, Britain, France, Germany, South Korea, Australia and other nations to join the maritime force.
Washington was not able to convince its Asian ally to join an international maritime force to guard ships in the world’s most important oil passageway with Japan ruling out joining a US-led maritime force. South Korea, however, has agreed to send a destroyer as part of a naval fleet to the strategic waterway.
The unified European approach to resolving tensions in the Persian Gulf also showed signs of strain.
Germany ruled out joining on Thursday, citing a desire to keep discussions diplomatic and avoid further escalation in the Persian Gulf, blaming the United States for the escalation by withdrawing from the nuclear deal.
Spain has also ruled itself out as a possible partner. Belgium and Norway are hesitating. France has also been reluctant to join the mission.