European Union set to launch naval mission to Red Sea to deal with the Houthis

Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, announced that the mission, involving naval assets from at least seven EU member states, aims to initiate operations in the Red Sea within the next three weeks

European Union set to launch naval mission to Red Sea to deal with the Houthis
AP Photo/Nicolae Dumitrache
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The European Union is preparing to deploy a significant naval mission to the Red Sea in an effort to curb attacks on cargo ships by the Houthi group, which is based in Yemen and receives support from Iran.

Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, announced that the mission, involving naval assets from at least seven EU member states, aims to initiate operations in the Red Sea within the next three weeks, the Daily Wire reported.

“This is the purpose: protection of the ships,” Borrell said. “Intercepting of the attacks against the ships. Not participating in any kind of action against the Houthis. Only blocking the attacks of the Houthis.”

The mission's primary objective is to ensure the safety of ships by intercepting and preventing attacks, without engaging in direct combat actions against the Houthi forces. Borrell emphasized the defensive nature of the operation, focusing solely on protecting maritime activities from assaults.

France, Italy, and Greece are among the countries being considered to lead this naval operation, as reported by the Associated Press.

“Many European firms asked us to do that because their business model is suffering a lot due to the high increase in cost and having to go down to South Africa,” he added. “It’s affecting prices, it’s affecting inflation. So, it’s a natural endeavor for us to try to avoid this risk.”

The decision to launch this mission comes in response to the significant impact of Houthi attacks on global trade, which have forced commercial ships to seek alternative routes, notably around South Africa, thereby increasing operational costs and contributing to inflation.

The Houthi group has been responsible for over 30 missile and drone strikes against cargo ships and tankers in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since mid-November, including the hijacking of a large cargo vessel at the onset of their campaign. These actions have disrupted international trade flows, prompting the EU's intervention.

The Houthis are part of a broader network of groups in the region receiving support from Iran, with activities that include attacks on American interests and aggression towards Israel. Other groups with Iranian backing include Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, among others.

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