EU to launch an operation in Red Sea

The European Union is set to launch a fresh military operation in the Red Sea amidst Houthis running riot in the shipping waters, Politico reported on January 31. 

The Iran-backed Yemeni rebels have committed numerous attacks on ships they believe to be belonging to Israel as well as its allies. 

Houthis have continued to say that they are striking the ships, military and commercial, in solidarity with Hamas and the Palestinians more generally as Israel continues to wage its brutal war on Gaza. 

Such assaults have caused a halt in cargo shipments from Asia to Europe which is now beginning to have a negative economic effect. 

As well as the economic impact, many are fearing that  Houthis’ operations will spark an expansion of the Israel-Gaza conflict regionally. 

EU officials said that the operation, which they are naming “Aspides” (protector), is expected to start on February 19. 

The European bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell welcomed defence ministers from EU states in Belgian capital Brussels on January 31. Prior to said meeting, Borrell told the press, “We have to decide which country will take the command, where the headquarters will be, what navy assets member states will provide,” 

READ: EU finally pushes for Palestinian state

After the talks, the Spaniard’s communications adviser said that the operation would be in action come mid-February. German Defence Minister Siemtje Möller echoed those remarks. 

In what was a notable event, the US and UK struck 60 Houthis targets in 16 different sites across Yemen on January 12. 

Given that France and Italy already have military vessels in the Red Sea, it is expected that they will be the mission’s commander however no confirmation has been made yet. 

Borrell said that the coalition of EU member states would not be going on the offensive against the Yemeni rebels but would only be foiling their attacks. 

Borrell also noted that whilst not every state in the 27-member bloc is fully supportive of the operation, “no one will obstruct.” 

The EU has often been left frustrated by Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban, dubbed the bloc’s “chief antagonist” in a recent article in The Financial Times titled, How to deal with the EU’s Orbán problem”. 

Orban, an avid supporter of former President Trump, has repeatedly blocked EU aid to Ukraine as well as well as opposing EU migration reform. 

The Hungarian premier is often called “eurosceptic” and “eurocritic” by European media despite stressing that he is supportive of his country’s EU membership. 

Politico/ Reuters

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