US Seeking Participation of Other Countries in Maritime Security Initiative in the Gulf
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Washington, Jul 26 (PTI) In view of the increasing threat to the freedom of navigation in the Gulf, the United States is seeking participation of other countries in its maritime security initiative in the region, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday.

"The United States is calling it our maritime security initiative, and we have asked countries from all across the world to participate in that to assist in the defence of the waterways through the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz," Pompeo told Ben Shapiro of "The Ben Shapiro Show" in an interview.

Noting that the US was just at the very beginning of this initiative, Pompeo said he already had commitments from a number of nations that said they would provide resources -- both naval and aviation.

This assistance can help the US do two things, he said. First, to keep these waterways open so that commercial traffic can continue to flow there. Second, to reduce the risk that the leadership in Iran thinks that they can take a ship from the sea or do harm to any vessel, either American or otherwise.

Describing this effort as like a neighbourhood watch party, Pompeo said the presence of multinational forces and all working towards the same end would reduce the risks and put Iran on the backfoot.

Hopeful that the initiative will work, Pompeo said his guess was that Iranians would continue to try and impose costs on the US and its allies.

"But I do not think anyone should ever mistake the United States for having an absence of resolve under President (Donald) Trump. We are effectively putting and continuing to put increased pressure on Qasem Soleimani and the IRGC, his forces, as well as on the Ayatollah," he warned.

"We have taken almost 95 per cent of their crude oil revenue and it has evaporated. It's gone. That revenue is not available for Iran to conduct naval exercises, terror campaigns, assassination efforts around the world. We are denying them wealth and resources," he asserted.

Such a measure, Pompeo said would force the Iranian leadership to take very difficult decisions about how to spend the limited money they would have in their hands. This was the opposite of what had happened in the previous administration, he noted.

Responding to a question, Pompeo exuded confidence that the Trump Administration's strategy with regard to Iran would work.

"We will deny Iran the wealth to foment terror around the world and build out their nuclear programme," he said.

"I am convinced that the Europeans are now seeing that this effort to sort of try and go along with the Iranians is not going to lead to the outcome -- it was a British ship that was seized. We should not forget that there were other ships, that there were explosives placed on them, a Norwegian ship included, so another European vessel damaged by the Iranians," he said.

Observing that Iranians would continue to act out, Pompeo said the US mission was very clear: to deny the world's largest state sponsor of terror, which has now conducted an act of piracy on the open seas against a British vessel in the Omani waters, to convince them that this piracy, this terrorism, was unacceptable and the regime must change its ways.

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