EU mulls launching naval mission in the Red Sea in less than a month

The European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell has stated he expects the bloc’s foreign ministers to sign off on a naval mission protecting shipping lanes in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden when they meet on 19 February.

“Maritime security in the Red Sea has significantly deteriorated over the last weeks and we are very much advancing the work of a new maritime operation in order to act in a purely defensive mode to protect merchant vessels,” Borrell confirmed after an informal meeting of defence ministers in Brussels.

“Our goal is to establish and launch this mission, Aspides, at the latest on the 19 February, I hope, and I’m sure, we will,” he added.

Foreign affairs ministers from across the bloc are scheduled to meet in the Belgian capital on that date and stamp the plan with their approval.

Yemenis have been conducting many military operations against Israeli vessels or those heading towards the occupied Palestinian territories’ ports.

The operations have been described as a response to an October 7, 2023-present war and siege that the Israeli regime has been waging against Gaza following an operation carried out by the Palestinian territory’s resistance movements.

Nearly 27,000 Palestinians, mostly women, children, and adolescents, have died so far in the war, which enjoys untrammeled military and political support on the part of the United States, the Zionist regime’s biggest ally.

In response, Washington has formed a military coalition against Yemeni forces in the Red Sea and endangered maritime navigation in the strategic waterway.

The US and the UK, backed by several countries, have also struck tens of targets at several locations in Yemen in recent weeks.

The increased risks faced by ships in the Red Sea have forced the world’s biggest freight firms to avoid the Suez Canal and sent insurance costs soaring. Instead of Suez – the quickest cargo route from Asia to Europe – many vessels are now diverting round the Cape of Good Hope, incurring higher expenses on fuel, maintenance and wages.

Container freight rates for key global trade routes have also surged after Washington and London launched airstrikes on targets in Yemen with the stated goal of protecting maritime commerce in the Red Sea and the Bab-el-Mandeb straits, the world’s busiest routes.

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