Borrell: EU’s Red Sea Mission to be ‘Purely Defensive’


Sudan Events – Sumaya Sayed

The EU is planning a “purely defensive” mission to protect commercial vessels from Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, the bloc’s foreign policy chief said Friday.
Speaking at the third European Union Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum in Brussels, Josep Borrell said: “Disruptions to freedom of navigation have consequences that go beyond economic losses. It is not just a matter of some days more or some dollars more, it is about peace and stability.”
“And that is why, we [are] actively working with our international partners to restore maritime security in the Red Sea. We are advancing the work on a new maritime operation that we call ASPIDES, from an ancient name of the Greek language to refer to a shield,” he added.
However, Borrell underlined that the mission is different from the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian, which includes attacks against Houthi targets in Yemen.
“Our purpose is not to conduct any kind of attack, but just to defend,” he said, adding that the mission “will be deployed at sea and … will not conduct any operation on land.”
On Jan. 31, Borrell announced a maritime mission, named Aspides, to protect commercial vessels in the Red Sea against Houthi attacks, which will be launched by Feb. 19.
The Houthis have been targeting commercial vessels in the Red Sea, particularly those bound for Israel, since November. They said the attacks aim to pressure Israel to halt its deadly onslaught on the Gaza Strip. That has prompted the US and UK to launch retaliatory airstrikes against targets inside Yemen.
The Red Sea is one of the world’s most frequently used sea routes for oil and fuel shipments.

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