EU aims to launch a Red Sea naval mission within 3 weeks to protect ships from Houthi attacks

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In a significant development, the European Union has announced plans to initiate a naval mission in the Red Sea within the next three weeks. The mission aims to protect cargo ships from attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have been disrupting trade and causing price hikes. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell expressed the intention to have the mission operational by February 17, with seven EU countries ready to contribute ships or planes. Belgium has already committed to sending a frigate, and Germany is expected to follow suit.

Recently, the United States and Britain conducted airstrikes on multiple locations used by the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen. This marked the second coordinated retaliatory strike by the allies against the rebels’ missile-launching capabilities.

Borrell emphasized that the EU mission’s primary goal is to protect ships and intercept attacks, explicitly stating that it will not engage in military strikes against the Houthis. The focus is on blocking Houthi attacks to ensure the safety of commercial ships navigating the Red Sea.

The EU defense ministers, meeting in Brussels, were set to decide on the leading member country for the naval effort, with France, Greece, and Italy competing for the role. Additionally, discussions were expected on determining the mission’s headquarters.

Borrell highlighted the economic impact on businesses, stating that European firms have urged EU action due to the trade implications of diverting merchant ships away from the Red Sea. The alternate route, bypassing the Red Sea and heading to South Africa, has led to increased costs, affecting prices and contributing to inflation. The EU’s move is seen as a response to these challenges and an effort to mitigate risks for European businesses.

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