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EU planning mission to protect cargo ships from Houthi strikes in Red Sea

EU planning mission to protect cargo ships from Houthi strikes in Red Sea EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell (Getty Images)

The European Union aims to send ships to the Red Sea by February 17 to protect cargo ships from Houthi attacks, AP News reports.

According to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, seven EU countries are ready to help with ships or planes, while Belgium and Germany have already promised to send frigates. Borrell emphasizes that the EU mission is only for protecting ships and stopping attacks, not for fighting against the rebels.

“This is the purpose: protection of the ships. Intercepting of the attacks against the ships. Not participating in any kinds of actions against the Houthis. Only blocking the attacks of the Houthis,” Borrell said.

Borrell explained that businesses were asking for EU help in the Red Sea region. “Many European firms asked us to do that because their business model is suffering a lot due to the high increase in cost and having to go down to South Africa,” he added. “It’s affecting prices, it’s affecting inflation. So, it’s a natural endeavor for us to try to avoid this risk.”

The EU ministers are now set to decide which country would lead the naval mission and where the mission's headquarters should be. France, Greece, and Italy are named as possible candidates for leading the mission.

Houthi strikes

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October, Yemeni Houthi rebels have been carrying out attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea. In January, the terrorist group launched its most significant assault yet.

The attacks on shipping routes in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, which constitute about 15% of the world's shipping traffic, have significant consequences for global trade. Shipping companies like Maersk were diverting vessels away from the Red Sea by taking a longer route around Africa or by pausing until the safety of vessels could be ensured. The price of oil went up by 4% because oil tankers changed their routes away from the Red Sea.

In early January, the U.S. and the UK conducted powerful strikes on targets linked to the Houthis in Yemen. This was a response to the ongoing Houthi attacks on civilian vessels in the Red Sea.

To learn more about who the Houthis are and why they are attacking ships, you can read the article by RBC-Ukraine.