The United Kingdom defended the actions of the Trump administration in Iran, saying the United States is “entitled to defend itself” against Iranian aggression and deploying the Royal Navy to the Persian Gulf to protect shipping vessels flying the British flag.
The Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, expressed support for America’s decision to take out Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qasem Soleimani, citing the violence committed in Iraq by Iran-backed militias.
“During the last few months U.S. forces in Iraq, who are based in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government, have been repeatedly attacked by Iranian-backed militia”, Wallace said, in comments reported by The Telegraph.
“General Soleimani has been at the heart of the use of proxies to undermine neighbouring sovereign nations and target Iran’s enemies. Under international law the United States is entitled to defend itself against those posing an imminent threat to their citizens”, the Defence Secretary concluded.
In response to escalating tensions after the death of Soleimani, the United Kingdom has deployed the Royal Navy to the Strait of Hormuz, to protect British shipping vessels in the Persian Gulf from retaliatory strikes from Iran.
Royal Navy warships have not patrolled the strait since November, when the navy had been protecting British ships after Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker, the Stena Impero, in July of last year. The ship was finally released by Iran in September.
Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary Dominic Raab, speaking today to the BBC, also defended the killing of Soleimani.
“My view is — and the operational assessment has been done by the Americans — is that there is a right of self-defence,” Raab said.
“It was General Soleimani’s job description to engage proxies, militias across not just Iraq but the whole region, not just to destabilize those countries but to attack Western countries… In those circumstances, the right of self-defence clearly applies”, he added.
On Saturday the British Foreign Office warned British citizens not to travel to Iraq, where the United Kingdom still has 400 military personnel stationed, for fear of Iranian reprisals, saying that British citizens “could be arbitrarily detained or arrested in Iran”.
The defence by the United Kingdom of President Trump’s actions against Iran comes in stark contrast to the response of other European nations, many of whom have shied away from supporting America.
Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State for the United States, chastised the country’s supposed allies in Europe for not supporting the strike against Soleimani.
“[I have been] talking to our partners in other places that haven’t been quite as good — frankly, the Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wish that they could be”, said Pompeo.
“The Brits, the French, the Germans, all need to understand that what we did, what the Americans did, saved lives in Europe as well… We’re not going to appease [Iran] any longer”, he added.