EU prepares for US-led military operation in Red Sea
The EU is preparing for the US-led initiative to protect merchant ships in the Red Sea, reports German news agency dpa on Friday. Josep Borrell, the high representative of European Foreign Policy, is said to have made a proposal on how to extend its existing anti-piracy operation Atalanta.
Atalanta currently fights piracy off the Somalian coast. Borrell called an emergency meeting on the mandate extension on Thursday evening. According to diplomats, Spain had reservations, but EU politicians believe that those doubts are due to internal political differences, which could be quickly resolved. The 27 EU member states are currently studying Borrell's proposal, which should be formalised as soon as possible.
The operation, called Operation Prosperity Guardian, was created by the US. It aims to protect shipping traffic on the Red Sea from attacks by Houthi rebels from Yemen. Several European states had already pledged bilateral support for the initiative, but others, like Spain and Germany, favoured an EU mandate for participation instead.
The Red Sea, which connects Africa to Europe via the Suez canal in Egypt, is one of the busiest trade routes in the world. Ships that avoid the passage have to sail around Africa, a far longer route. The rebels say they are protesting Israel's attacks on Gaza this way, and are believed to be trained and backed by Iran.
An Israeli Navy warship entering the Red Sea. © Israel Army / AFP