The European Union said tonight that member countries will contribute to the U.S.-led Operation Prosperity Guardian aimed at protecting commercial shipping in the Red Sea from attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen.
“Irresponsible Houthi actions are a threat to freedom of navigation in the Red Sea,” tweeted Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, after an emergency meeting of the bloc’s Political and Security Committee.
The EU’s endorsement will make it easier for countries to join the American effort.
The U.K. has joined, while Italy is sending a warship. France, which has a destroyer in the area, said on Tuesday it was interested but had not yet committed to joining the operation.
Other countries were waiting for the EU to move. The bloc is already running the Atalanta anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia, which is led by Spain and has included vessels from countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Italy.
Spain was mentioned by the U.S. as a member of its Red Sea coalition, but Madrid later clarified it was not taking part in a mission that didn’t have the backing of either NATO or the EU.
Germany has similar qualms. The country’s military needs a mandate from the parliament to take part, as the coalition includes the potential use of force but does not fall under the auspices of the EU, NATO or the U.N., government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit told reporters earlier today.
More from … Jan Cienski