Last week, the Trump administration announced efforts to create an international coalition to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf.
The news was first revealed in a joint press conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff General Joseph Dunford.
“We’re engaging now with a number of countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure freedom of navigation both in the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab,” Dunford said. According to the general, the U.S. began to actively seek out nations willing to participate in the initiative. “Over the next couple of weeks we’ll identify which nations have the political will to support that initiative and then we’ll work directly with the militaries to identify the specific capabilities that’ll support that.”
The coalition to protect shipping in the Gulf is the natural progression to the crisis affecting maritime passage in the region. Jakob Larsen is responsible for maritime security for Copenhagen- based BIMCO, the world’s largest shipping association. Larsen recently told media sources that shippers around the world are watching the situation in the Gulf with great concern. “First of all, for the safety of the seafarers who operate in this region and secondly, for the potential implications for the global economy and thereby the trade also in the region, but also globally,” he said. “When we have security issues like this in a strategic chokepoint like the Strait of Hormuz or the Gulf of Oman, we see an increase in oil prices, fewer ship owners willing to go into the area; thereby, a reduction in the supply of shipping. And all [this] is actually creating a negative effect in the global economy. And this also means a downward trend in shipping, in general, because what drives shipping is the global economy.”
This assessment was echoed in a recent statement from Brian Hook, the U.S. Special Envoy for Iran. Hook explained the spat of attacks in the Gulf area attributed to Iran and its allies have affected over a dozen countries in the region. A coalition to provide maritime security is the only way to improve the situation. “If we just left things as they are, the chance of a repeat of the incidents that we saw both in Fujairah on the 12th of May where four tankers and the aircraft were attacked and then incidents on the 13th of June in the Gulf of Oman, we would probably see a repeat of that.”
As of now, it seems more and more nations are at least considering joining the U.S.-led coalition. There is little doubt that this new program will seriously impede Iran and its allies operating in the Gulf, and almost certainly deter them from any blockade-like operations in the region.