The European Union (EU) is set to initiate a naval mission in the Red Sea in the coming weeks. The mission aims to provide defense to cargo ships against attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen. These attacks have not only disrupted trade but also caused price hikes in the region. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has expressed his desire to have the mission up and running by February 17th.
Multiple EU countries, including Belgium and Germany, have already pledged their support for the mission. Belgium has committed to sending a frigate, while Germany is expected to follow suit. The EU’s objective is to protect merchant ships rather than engage in military strikes against the Houthis.
The recent retaliatory strikes by U.S. and British forces on Houthi targets have underscored the necessity of safeguarding commercial vessels. Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October, the Houthis have consistently launched drone and missile attacks on ships in the Red Sea. The EU mission seeks to intercept and block these attacks, ensuring the safety of ships’ crew and cargo.
The EU defense ministers convened in Brussels to determine the leading member country for the naval effort and select the mission’s headquarters. France, Greece, and Italy are competing for the leadership role.
The need for EU action arises from businesses that have requested assistance due to the trade implications stemming from ships being forced to bypass the Red Sea. The detour to South Africa has increased costs significantly, impacting inflation and prices. The EU recognizes these challenges and aims to mitigate the risks associated with this alternative route.
By launching this naval mission, the European Union intends to address the increasing threats faced by cargo ships in the Red Sea. This initiative is a crucial step toward ensuring the safety and security of trade and commerce in the region.