The new US sanctions against Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Sarif have further fueled tensions between the two countries and triggered criticism from the EU. Furthermore, the deployment of the Bundeswehr in the Strait of Hormuz continues to be debated. Previously, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said that Germany will not participate in a US-led military operation.
The CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen promotes an independent European mission with German and French participation. This should protect merchant ships in the strategically important strait and run parallel to the American operation "sentinel" (guard). Stefan Mair, member of the board of directors of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), told the editorial network Germany: "A defensive, European-led mission would still be a strong and important signal".
Maas, on the other hand, was reluctant to do so after Britain's departure. When asked whether a European mission was off the table, he said in the ARD morning magazine: "That's what we've been talking about in recent days, and that's not going to happen in that way." It will certainly be necessary to talk to everyone in the European Union. "Because that does not just affect us, that free shipping should continue to exist there (...)."
The US has been trying for weeks to get broad support for its military mission to protect merchant ships in the Persian Gulf. Maas had rejected a German participation because the federal government considers the US strategy of "maximum pressure" on Iran wrong. Under the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the British have sided with the US after the now-defeated former Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt first advocated a European mission. Britain is currently consulting with the United States on what a common approach can be.
Iranian Foreign Minister sanctioned EU criticism
Tensions between United States and Iran countries had increased after the US imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Sarif. His assets within the US were frozen according to government information. Sarif, on the other hand, said he has no assets outside of Iran.
"We regret this decision," said a spokesman for EU foreign policy Federica Mogherini. The European side will continue to work with Sarif, he added. It was important to keep the diplomatic channels open.
The Foreign Office in Berlin said that US action was countering a diplomatic solution. "We therefore do not consider this step the US right." The Foreign Ministers of Germany, France and the United Kingdom "are in regular contact with Foreign Minister Sarif and will continue to do so".
Iranian President Hassan Ruhani condemned the sanctions against Sarif. "On the one hand, the Americans are talking about negotiations all the time, but then sanctioning our foreign minister," he said. The US government is starting to "do childish things," Ruhani said. It states that it wants to negotiate without preconditions, and then imposes sanctions on its most important diplomat.