Is international defence co-operation being hindered by bureaucracy?
The situation in the Gulf has highlighted the problems in persuading nations to work together for the common good.
An international maritime task force is needed to guarantee freedom of navigation in International Waters (‘The Commons of the High Sea) and Straits. In regard to the Strait of Hormuz which lies between Iran and Oman, and, as things stand, only the USN and RN are able to deploy warships with any speed and in significant force, and the RN is severely hampered by the lack of escort ships in the fleet.
EU member states, most of whom are our NATO allies, appear constrained by the EU Commission’s foreign policy aims of avoiding an upset with Iran with regard to the nuclear treaty. It is not in the Commission’s interest to come to a quick decision.
Furthermore EU navies, other than the French, have insufficient ships to commit to maritime forces in the Gulf, Hormuz Strait and Gulf of Oman, given their involvement in the two NATO standing task groups (SNMGs) and EUNavfor, the standing anti-piracy task force, Operation Atlanta, off Somalia.
As Iran appears willing to risk asserting illegal control of access and egress from the Gulf and break the International Law of the Sea (or The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS ) it becomes an issue that could be raised with the UN Security Council. But until raised by Security Council members there is unlikely to be any intervention in that forum and in that event Russia would be likely to veto any use of force. The rules regarding the transit of Straits used for International Navigation: https://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/part3.htm.
It is worth noting that Chinese (PLAN) and Russian Warships have recently passed through the Straits of Dover under these regulations. The straits are the busiest waterway in the world.
Iran and Russia have agreed very recently to hold naval ‘drills’ in the Gulf, including the Strait of Hormuz, as a show of force. Russia is of course, stirring the pot. However this appears an arrangement between the Iranian Navy and Russia, not the independent Republican Guard who seem to operate without political and military command and control.
It’s no wonder that nations like Iran feel able to do more or less what they like with the expectation that they will get away with it.
8th August 2019
statement on the situation in the gUlf
The unfolding situation in the Gulf is a cause for grave concern. The British response to the Iranian regime's illegal actions requires a combination of diplomatic skills and military power. Let us hope the Government is up to the task. The very fact that the Iranians have felt able to challenge Britain in this way highlights our country's current lack of military and especially naval strength after years of ill-conceived defence cuts.
I'm afraid this really is a case of the chickens coming home to roost for the British government. UKNDA has consistently warned that something like this could happen and that our ability to deter such acts of aggression was being reduced by cuts to the Royal Navy, the Army and the RAF. What we need now, and urgently, is a concerted effort to rebuild Britain's military capabilities and global reach, so that rogue states like Iran will know in future that they cannot mess with us any more.
Chief Executive Officer, UK National Defence Association (www.uknda.org)
22nd July 2019
the lion has no teeth
"The RN may now lack the frigates and destroyers required to patrol the Strait of Hormuz in any strength but they do have the vessels and personnel required to deter the sort of attack that took the Stena Spiro and before her the attempted taking of the British Heritage." So says Master Mariner, and UKNDA Director, Fred Dupuy.
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Promoting effective and efficient Defence of the United Kingdom and the UK’s worldwide interests;
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