U.S. Officials Believe Allies Will Join Security Efforts in Persian Gulf

Called 'Operation Sentinel,' the American plan has thus far attracted few commitments from other nations

Maxar Technologies shows a close up of British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero at the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas, July 22, 2019.
AP

Senior U.S. leaders expressed confidence that they will be able to convince allies to help protect shipping in the Persian Gulf area against Iranian threats, but they provided no new details Sunday on which nations may be willing to participate.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he has gotten a good response from allies and some announcements could be expected soon. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that a lot of conversations are taking place.

But after meeting with their Australian counterparts in Sydney, the two U.S. leaders came away with no commitment for help. Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds said her country is giving the U.S. request serious consideration but no decision has been made.

Called "Operation Sentinel," the plan has thus far attracted few commitments from other nations.

On Wednesday, Germany said it wouldn't participate in a U.S.-led naval mission to secure the Strait of Hormuz, the sea passage in the Persian Gulf.

Stressing that Germany wants to avoid a further escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Iran, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters on a trip to Warsaw that there was no military solution.

"Germany will not take part in the sea mission presented and planned by the Untied States," said Maas.

Earlier Wednesday, officials from the United Arab Emirates and Iran have met to discuss maritime security in the Gulf for the first time in six years. 

An Emirati official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the talks, said the meetings focused on issues related to border security and navigation in shared waters, describing the talks as "nothing new" and unrelated to current tensions.

The state-run IRAN daily reported that a seven-member delegation from Abu Dhabi met with Iranian border and coastguard commanders in Tehran on Tuesday in the first such meeting since 2013.

Iran has dismissed Pompeo's offer to visit and address the Iranian people as a "hypocritical gesture."

Addressing Pompeo in remarks to reporters, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said "You don't need to come to Iran." He suggested Pompeo instead grant visas for Iranian reporters to travel to the United States and interview him, accusing Pompeo of having rejected their requests.

On Monday, Pompeo tweeted: "We aren't afraid of (Zarif) coming to America where he enjoys the right to speak freely. Are the facts of the (Khamenei) regime so bad he cannot let me do the same thing in Tehran?" the secretary of state said, referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "What if his people heard the truth, unfiltered, unabridged?"