Dutch deployment in the Strait of Hormuz

To enhance maritime security in the Gulf region, from the end of January to the end of June 2020 the Netherlands will make a military contribution to the French-initiated, European-led mission in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH). The cabinet approved the Dutch contribution today.

Tensions in the Gulf region have risen steadily higher in recent months. Incidents that disrupt shipping and raise uncertainty have direct consequences for the world economy including for Dutch shippers. This has an immediate impact on Dutch economic and security interests. Safeguarding the free and safe passage of all maritime traffic in this part of the world is therefore in the Netherlands’ interests.

The Dutch government has for this reason decided to contribute the frigate Zr. Ms. De Ruyter with an onboard helicopter to EMASOH and to second a number of staff officers to its headquarters. The mission’s goal is to prevent further incidents in the region. It also includes a diplomatic track, which will focus on de-escalating tensions, for example by means of an inclusive regional dialogue on maritime security. In this way the mission, in line with the Netherlands’ own points of departure, aims at an integrated approach to maritime security in the Gulfregion.

Because of the importance that the government attaches to maintaining the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Netherlands will join other European countries as a shareholder of the Instrument for Supporting Trade Exchanges (INSTEX). INSTEX is designed to facilitate legitimate trade between European companies and Iran by limiting the impact on European companies of US sanctions against Iran.

Other Dutch efforts
The government will also endeavour to increase the Netherlands’ contribution to UN missions. Specifically, it is looking at the possibilities for contributing transport helicopters to UN operations in the second half of 2021 or in 2022, on a rotational basis. The establishment of a UN fund is being considered for the commercial hiring of vital capabilities for UN missions, such as medical teams, strategic air transport or security personnel.

In September the EU extended the mandate of Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea until 31 March 2020, although for the time being no ships are being deployed as part of this mission. The deployment of ships was halted in early 2019 as a result of differences about the distribution among EU member states of people rescued from the Mediterranean. The Netherlands contributed a ship to Sophia in 2016; once the mission starts to deploy ships again, the government is prepared to make a contribution to Sophia comparable to that made in 2016. It will at that point carefully consider the feasibility and desirability of the contribution.