• Brussels

  • Wednesday, February 7, 2024 at 7:13 AM
    Last Update : Monday, February 12, 2024 at 12:04 PM

EU Close to Launching Naval Mission to Protect Ships from Houthi Attacks, Spokesperson Tells AWP

(AWP) - A spokesman for the European Union told the Arab World Press (AWP) that the bloc will be launching a naval mission within a few weeks to protect ships in the Red Sea, where the armed Houthi group has been carrying out attacks on commercial and military vessels.

“The mission should help the passing vessels to avoid any attacks,” said Peter Stano, the EU’s Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, but he did not specify the details of the mission, only describing it as contributing to “ensuring freedom of navigation.”

Last week, Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said the mission was “purely defensive.”

The Euronews network reported that only five EU member states – France, Greece, Italy, Germany and Belgium – have so far publicly expressed their intention to take part in the mission, with the first three countries assuming leading roles.

Stano, during his interview with AWP at the EU headquarters in Brussels on Monday, described the Houthi attacks on commercial ships as “against freedom of navigation and in violation of international law.”

He added, “They cannot shoot at commercial ships for no reason. That's why the European Union was very clear in condemning it. We are joined with international partners again in efforts to find a solution and the European Union in the meantime launched very intensive work on its own naval mission that will be protecting the commercial vessels in the Red Sea from any kind of illegal and illegitimate attacks.”

A coalition led by the United States and Britain has attacked Houthi positions in areas under their control in Yemen with the aim of “curbing the Houthis’ ability to attack ships.”

Stano indicated, “The European Union is contributing its part by launching a naval mission which will hopefully be launched in the course of a few weeks, where we will be trying to help the passing vessels to defer any attacks, to avoid being attacked and to protect them, so that we can contribute to ensuring the freedom of navigation which is of utmost priority.”

He pointed out that the increasing number of attacks and counterattacks in the region is inevitably a source of concern because its escalation can very quickly get out of hand.

He concluded, “That's why the European Union is engaging with international partners, first of all with Iran, who is supporting or has links to most of these groups engaged in these attacks, to use its influence to stop this because it is not contributing to de-escalation – quite the contrary.”