Once a military operation is launched, reflecting on lessons learned can sometimes be an afterthought. Nearly two years after the establishment of separate U.S. and European maritime security coalitions in the Strait of Hormuz, very little exists by way of commentary exploring the policies that shaped these efforts. As two former officials from Washington and Paris who were present at the creation of our respective coalitions, we feel it is important to record some policy lessons that leaders might consider should they want to build future maritime coalitions.
Since the withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, tensions with Tehran have occasionally escalated in the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s busiest oil shipping lane. After Washington re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil exports in May 2019, Iran attacked civilian tankers passing through the Gulf, prompting international concern. Tensions culminated on July 19, 2019 when Iranian authorities seized the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero in Omani waters.