Major oil importers like China and Japan should be protecting their own ships in the Strait of Hormuz, according to President Trump, who in a Monday morning Tweet questioned the U.S. military’s presence in the region to safeguard oil-shipping routes.
“China gets 91% of its Oil from the Straight, Japan 62%, & many other countries likewise,” Trump tweeted. “So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation.”
“All of these countries should be protecting their own ships on what has always been … a dangerous journey,” Trump said. “We don’t even need to be there in that the U.S. has just become (by far) the largest producer of Energy anywhere in the world!”
Despite Trump’s doubts, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasized the importance of maritime security minutes after Trump’s tweet. Pompeo, who is in Saudi Arabia meeting with the Saudi king and crown prince, said he and the Saudis discussed the need “to promote maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz” and added that “freedom of navigation is paramount.”
Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also weighed in on the issue, underscoring the importance of international coalitions to accomplish peace.
“Mr. President, you are right: our allies and stakeholders in the Straits of Hormuz should do more,” Graham tweeted Monday morning. “However, safe navigation of sea lanes -- vital to a world economy -- is always in America’s national security interest.”
“Protecting sea lanes is best achieved by partnerships where all the stakeholders contribute and sacrifice for peaceful navigation of the seas,” Graham said. “Peace and economic prosperity are best achieved when bad actors are dealt with through international coalitions.”
Trump’s remarks come amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran, and after the U.S. has blamed Iran for attacking two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman. Iran denies that.
Iran also shot down a U.S. surveillance drone last week, although the U.S. and Iran remain at odds over whether the drone was over international waters or was violating Iran’s airspace. In response, Trump was prepared to move forward with a military strike against Iran, but claimed he called off the strike minutes beforehand because of the number of estimated casualties.