The US stepped up diplomatic pressure on Germany to send warships to the Persian Gulf on Tuesday as the Western allies remained deeply divided over how to respond to the Iranian threat to oil tankers.
Germany has so far been reluctant to contribute to any naval mission in the Middle East and the US embassy took the unusual step of publicly challenging Berlin to make a commitment.
“Members of the German government have been clear that freedom of navigation should be protected,” the US embassy said in a statement. “Our question is, protected by whom?”
The US statement said that both the UK and France had committed to sending warships to “secure the Strait of Hormuz and combat Iranian aggression”. In reality, there is still no agreement on any joint mission in the Strait of Hormuz.
France has refused to join any US mission out of concern it would associate Paris with Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” against Iran. Britain is caught in the middle, calling for a European-led initiative but saying it will need American military support to succeed.