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EU begins patrol mission in the Strait of Hormuz

EPA-EFE//CHRISTOPHE SIMON
The French naval frigate FS Provence (D652) is seen departing the port of Toulon in southern France as it makes it way to through the western Mediterranean.

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France has announced the beginning of the European Maritime Awareness Mission in the Strait of Hormuz after one of the French Navy’s frigates started patrolling the strategic sea passage between the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.
The French combat vessel is due joined by a Dutch frigate within a fortnight.
The mission, which also goes by the acronym EMASoH, is designed to ensure the freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and to help de-escalate current tensions with the Islamic Republic of Iran following the US’ targeted killing of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, in early January.
Aside from France and the Netherlands, the EU’s naval mission – which will be based out of the United Arab Emirates – also has the support of Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Italy, and Portugal.
Tehran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz to international shipping, which could impact the global oil market as it is one of the key routes for the transit of natural resources from the Middle East, ever since the United States withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal nearly two years ago.
The Islamic Republic has, on several occasions, sent the naval wing of the Revolutionary Guard into the Persian Gulf to disrupt shipping traffic and to seize oil tankers from nations that it sees as enemies.
With tensions between Iran, the US, the UK, and Saudi Arabia reaching a boiling point, the Americans have repeatedly called for a joint patrol mission with the EU, but Brussels has thus far declined to take part in the operation.
The European Union’s position could change, however, after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 on January 8, killing all 176 people on board, including 13 EU citizens.

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