Dutch ex-defense chief against joining Persian Gulf mission
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The former head of Dutch defense forces said he believes the Netherlands should not take part in a U.S.-led mission to protect shipping in the strategic Strait of Hormuz if the aim of the operation is to pile more pressure on Iran.
The comments of former defense chief Dick Berlijn came in an interview published in Tuesday’s edition of Dutch daily De Volkskrant.
“I don’t think we should take part in an American operation in which we absolutely do not know what is going to happen,” he said.
Discussions about the possible security mission come against a backdrop of deepening confrontation between Iran and the West after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers over a year ago.
Berlijn said that if the mission proposed by the Trump administration is aimed at putting more pressure on Iran, “I’m strongly opposed to that.”
Berlijn’s comments were published on the day Dutch Cabinet ministers held an informal meeting to discuss strategy after Parliament’s summer break.
Among key foreign policy issues facing Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s ruling coalition are U.S. requests to take part in operations in Syria and the Persian Gulf crisis with Iran.
Britain has so far been the only U.S. ally to express willingness to join a maritime security mission. European nations are reluctant and Germany has said it will not be involved.
Britain also has been giving U.K.-flagged vessels a naval escort since the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s seizure of the Stena Impero tanker in July. The tanker is still being held by the Islamic Republic.
The Persian Gulf region has witnessed six attacks on oil tankers in recent weeks that the U.S. has blamed on Iran and the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone by Iranian forces. Iran denied it was behind the tanker attacks, although it has seized other tankers.