EU Members to Launch Military Operation Against Houthi Militants

2 Mons Ago
EU Members to Launch Military Operation Against Houthi Militants

Member countries of the European Union (EU) made plans to launch a naval military operation in the Red Sea against Yemen's Houthi militants by mid-February.

The operation is aimed at protecting ships which have been Houthis’ targets since October 2023 for they are perceived to be associated with Israel.

Operation Aspides, the new EU military mission in the Red Sea, will be mandated to protect commercial and intercept attacks, but not take part in strikes against the Houthis, according to Josep Borrell.

"We have to decide which country will take the command ... where the headquarters will be, what navy assets member states will provide," the bloc's top diplomat Josep Borrell told reporters Wednesday ahead of an informal meeting of defense ministers in Brussels.

The Red Sea region has become strategic to the EU for an approximately 40% of its trade with Asian and Middle Eastern countries is done via the Red Sea waters.  So, the new EU mission over the Red Sea is to maintain economic interests and ensure safe navigation through critical trade routes.

So far, there member states - France, Greece and Italy- have shown interest in leading the mission, with seven more willing to send naval assets, AP reported.

The operation would initially see three vessels under EU command. France and Italy already have warships in the region, and Germany plans to send the Hesse frigate to the area, diplomats said.

The launch of the Aspides mission marks the EU’s decision to diverge from the US-led mission launched in December, which has seen the U.S. and Britain launch airstrikes on Houthi positions, reflecting Europe's reservations about being under Washington's command.

The EU faces the risk of inadvertently escalating tensions in the region, given the complex geopolitical dynamics involving multiple stakeholders, highlighting the need for meticulous planning and diplomatic finesse in navigating the turbulent waters of the Red Sea.

Maritime security is a primary concern as the Red Sea is a critical global trade route between Africa and Asia, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean.

The conflict has prompted shipping firms to avoid the region, opting for a lengthy detour around Africa. This disruption, impacting over 12% of global trade, poses inflation and price-rise risks for import-heavy African countries like Egypt, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.

While circumventing the Red Sea adds significant sailing time and costs, it opens opportunities for African nations to potentially benefit from increased maritime traffic and trade diversions.

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