Germany has refused a request from the United States to join their mission in the Persian Gulf. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it was “out of the question” that Germany would take part. The Germans are in close contact with the French, and Maas views the US strategy of “maximum pressure” as wrong, preferring to rely on diplomacy to deescalate the situation.
Tensions have been rising between the United States and Iran since the Trump administration pulled out of the international nuclear deal, re-imposing sanctions. A series of attacks on oil tankers, and ultimately the seizure of a British-flagged tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz led the US to announce their strategy. The request for Germany to join the mission comes after sustained US pressure on the country to increase military spending in line with NATO commitments.
Earlier in the week, Germany’s newly appointed Defence Minister and leader of the ruling CDU Party, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, did not rule out participating in an EU mission. The question of defence and military intervention is a difficult one in Germany: the country prefers to act with hesitance and restraint given its difficult history, and military engagement can only happen with Bundestag approval. The CDU’s coalition partner, the SPD, and others expressed scepticism about a joint mission with the US. Meanwhile, Britain has called for a European maritime mission in the Gulf, and has asked to meet the US, France and other European countries in Bahrain next week to discuss.