What Happened: Australia will lend support to a U.S.-led initiative to ensure safe passage for commercial vessels through the Strait of Hormuz, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Aug. 20, The Japan Times reported. However, However, Australia will officially operate under its own Operation Manitou, not the U.S.-led initiative to secure the strategic waterway. An Australian frigate will reportedly arrive in the area in January 2020 ahead of a monthlong aircraft deployment in late 2019.
Why It Matters: Australia made the decision amid heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf after Iran seized a British oil tanker in July. The United States is still attempting to convince more of its allies to deploy naval assets to the area, including many of its partners in the Asia-Pacific region that depend on Middle Eastern oil exports through the maritime chokepoint.
Background: Australia has willingly participated in previous U.S.-led security missions due to its fears of China's growing influence in the Asia-Pacific. Canberra is currently in talks with Washington to purchase millions of barrels of oil from the U.S. strategic energy reserve to enhance its national security in the event of a global supply crisis.