EU countries have reached a political agreement in principle to launch a military operation to protect merchant shipping in the Red Sea. EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell made the announcement after a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday evening. According to diplomats, the operation should begin next month and end attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels.
States have given the green light “in principle” to military action to protect sea lanes, Borrell said. However, the specific design of such an operation remains to be determined. Houthi rebels have been attacking ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since the start of the war between Israel and radical Islamist Hamas.
The Shiite militias consider themselves part of a self-proclaimed “axis of resistance” directed against Israel, which includes Hamas and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. The shelling of the ships was aimed at forcing a halt to Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip following an unprecedented massacre by Hamas in Israel on October 7.
Warships have been dispatched
According to current plans, the EU operation would involve sending European warships and aerial warning systems to the area to protect cargo ships. However, participation in US strikes against Houthi positions in Yemen is not planned.
Given the risks, major shipping companies are increasingly avoiding the narrow sea route between Asia and Europe via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. It has now had a significant impact on the global economy. The United States and Great Britain have recently been conducting preemptive strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen.
The “Atalanta” mandate expansion failed
The EU originally planned to expand the mandate of the existing anti-piracy operation “Atalanta” in the Indian Ocean to operate in the Red Sea. However, the plan failed due to opposition from Spain, currently the lead country in Operation Atlanta.
The reason for the veto was a dispute within the Spanish coalition government over the country's participation in military operations in the Red Sea. The left in particular sympathizes with the desire to force Israel to end military operations in the Gaza Strip.
A US military cargo ship was attacked
Meanwhile, Houthi rebels said they attacked a US military cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden. It was “Ocean Jazz”. No further details. A spokesman for the militia declared that it would continue to respond to any “US or British aggression”.
The US and Great Britain bombed Houthi positions in Yemen for the first time last week in response to the attack. The Houthis were also reclassified as a terrorist organization.