New coalition aims to protect shipping in the Red Sea
Following a series of attacks on ships in the Red Sea, the US has announced the formation of a coalition to protect vessels and their crew. Ten countries will join forces against attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels.
"The recent escalation of irresponsible Houthi attacks from Yemen threatens free trade, endangers the lives of innocent sailors and violates international law," US Defence secretary Lloyd Austin said in a press release. The rebels regularly attack ships in the Red Sea in protest against Israel's bombardment of Gaza.
The coalition, named Operation Prosperity Guardian, includes the Netherlands, France, the UK, Canada, Bahrain, Italy, Norway, the Seychelles and Spain alongside the US.
Belgium is not currently part of the coalition. However, Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder announced on Monday that the country is considering sending military reinforcements to the Red Sea.
“It is important to secure shipping," she said during her Christmas visit to Belgian soldiers in Romania. "We are currently considering and analysing the possibility of sending military reinforcements to the region."
As part of a European operation, the Belgian frigate Louise Marie will embark on a mission in the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf via the Red Sea in 2024. Chief of Defence Admiral Michel Hofman believes the warship could provide security in the waters.
"The Louise Marie can play an important role in this transit through the Red Sea," he said, "but it will be a joint effort between several countries, where each country will be able to do something depending on its own capacity and availability."
© PHOTO ERIC HOURI / AFP