EU mulls sending naval mission to Red Sea to protect key shipping routes from attacks by Houthis: Report

Israeli Navy missile boat in the Red Sea. [Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

The EU is considering sending a naval mission to the Red Sea to protect key shipping routes from attacks by Houthi militants in Yemen, the bloc’s diplomats have told Euractiv.

EU ambassadors are expected to discuss the relevant proposal, coming from the European External Action Service (EEAS), on Tuesday, the outlet said in an article on Friday.

The proposal for a new EU naval operation, initiated by the bloc’s diplomatic service, predates the recent airstrikes against Houthis by the US and UK. These airstrikes occurred on Friday and Saturday, as highlighted by the diplomatic service.

Since mid-October, the Houthi group has been launching multiple drones and missiles targeting commercial vessels bound for Israel off Yemen’s coast. This has led to disruptions in shipping along crucial routes in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The Houthis claim that these attacks are in support of Gaza amid the ongoing Israeli military operation against genocide in Gaza, where Israel has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians since October 7, when Hamas retaliated to decades long occupational crimes committed by Israel.

The proposal from the European External Action Service (EEAS), seen by Euractiv, suggests the establishment of a new EU naval operation covering a broader area from the Red Sea to the Gulf. While the scope and composition of the mission are not yet clear, the document proposes including “at least three anti-air destroyers or frigates with multi-mission capabilities for at least one year.”

Unnamed EU diplomats have informed outlets that plans for the naval mission could be finalized by January 22, coinciding with a summit of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Brussels. They anticipate the possibility of launching the naval mission by the end of February, emphasizing that this timeline is ambitious but may be realistic.

The report quoting sources said a “general interest” from EU member states already engaged in the region regarding the proposed Red Sea operation.

Euractiv speculates that the EU naval mission could complement the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian, initiated by Washington to protect ships from Houthi attacks, which involves the participation of several European nations.

Alternatively, the potential EU operation might revolve around Agenor, a French-led joint surveillance mission in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, and part of the Arabian Sea. Participating nations reportedly include Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal.

Click to comment
To Top