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13 Jan, 2024 08:46

EU mulls naval mission in Red Sea – media

If agreed, the European operation could be launched in February, Euractiv reported
EU mulls naval mission in Red Sea – media

The EU is considering sending a naval mission to the Red Sea to protect key shipping routes from attacks by Houthi militants in Yemen, the bloc’s diplomats have told Euractiv.

EU ambassadors are expected to discuss the relevant proposal, coming from the European External Action Service (EEAS), on Tuesday, the outlet said in an article on Friday.

The initiative by the bloc’s diplomatic service predates the airstrikes against Houthi targets by the US and UK, which were carried out on Friday and Saturday, it stressed.

Since mid-October, the Houthis have launched multiple drones and missiles targeting Israeli-bound commercial vessels off Yemen’s coast, disrupting shipping along the key routes in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The group said it’s carrying out the attacks in support of Gaza amid the Israeli military operation against the Hamas armed group in the Palestinian enclave.

The proposal by EEAS, which Euractiv saw, suggests that “a new EU operation” would “act in a broader area of operation, from the Red Sea to the Gulf.”

So far, there’s no clarity about the mission’s scope and composition. Still, the document suggests that it should include “at least three anti-air destroyers or frigates with multi-mission capabilities for at least one year.”

Unnamed EU diplomats told the outlet that the plans could be finalized by January 22, when the bloc’s foreign ministers are scheduled to hold a summit in Brussels. The naval mission itself might be launched already by the end of February, they added.

One of the sources stressed that “a deployment by the end of February is ambitious given the short period, but might be a realistic timeline.”

Another diplomat said that there’s “general interest” in the Red Sea operation from EU member states already involved in the region.

Euractiv suggested that the EU naval mission might complement the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian, which had been launched by Washington last month to protect the ships from Houthi attacks and includes several European nations.

Another option is to center the potential EU operation around Agenor, a French-led joint surveillance mission in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, and part of the Arabian Sea. Such nations as Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal are already taking part in it, the outlet said.