Italy will take part in the European military mission in the Red Sea with a ship

Italy aims to take the lead alongside France and Greece “Aspides”The European military mission in the Red Sea to protect ships from attacks by the Yemeni Houthis, who control international maritime trade. The Italian Defense Minister, Guido Crosettoannounced today, Thursday, that the transalpine country will take part in the European naval mission with a ship and did not rule out the possibility of sending air resources “with monitoring and data collection tasks” to restore security in the face of the rebel offensive, which “not only endangers maritime trade in this region but also threatens economic stability.”

The Italian Defense Minister told Parliament: “In the last two months there have been such More than 30 attacks by the Houthis in the Red Sea, which initially stated that it wanted to attack only traffic connected to Israel and its interests and then expand the attacks to include all Western shipping. Crosetto emphasized that although the Red Sea is “not yet a theater of war in the classic sense,” this is becoming increasingly clear, so Italian and international interventions must “aim at avoiding escalation.”

As European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell explained on Wednesday, the mission will be called “Aspides,” “which means “protector,” and the objective will be “the protection of ships.” Borrell emphasized that the initiative will not take part in “any action against the Houthis,” but will only block rebel attacks on merchant ships. It is a “defense mission,” he emphasized, “different from the Anglo-American one, even if the goal is the same.” The EU mission is also considering the use of drones and missiles, but not attacking positions in Yemen.

Exactly hours earlier, U.S. naval forces responded to a fire attack by the Houthis following a distress call from a Maersk ship and sank four ships, marking the first casualties among the rebels in a direct confrontation with the U.S.-led coalition since the insurgents two months ago began firing missiles and drones against southern Israel and against ships flying the Jewish state’s flag. The US command reported that the boats came from “areas controlled by the Houthis in Yemen,” who have not yet claimed responsibility for this latest attack.

Italy, along with France, Germany and Greece, It was one of the first EU countries to express its commitment to an eventual European mission in the Red Sea to protect maritime trade, asking its partners for a “more pragmatic and less bureaucratic” response. “I hope that Europe can finally take a more concrete position, because the times we live in require speed and pragmatism. “We cannot afford to deal with the problems the way we have so far,” said the Defense Minister upon his arrival at the informal meeting with his counterparts in Brussels.

However, Spain announced that it would not take part in the European mission. A decision that Crosetto sharply criticized this week. “The distrust of the Spanish government is ideological. “Sánchez has ensured that political agreements take precedence over international security agreements,” he said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

The Italian Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani, for its part, confirmed that all that remains to be decided is which country will lead the mission, which should receive the green light from February 19. “We decide on the leadership, it will depend on Italy or France, but what is important is that freight transport is defended,” Tajani said.

The crisis in the Red Sea, one of the trade arteries through which 30% of international sea container transport passes, is seriously affecting Italian trade, which is losing around 95 million euros a day. According to Confartigianato I have between November 2023 and January 2024Talia lost around 8.8 billion euros. In the last three months alone, the transalpine country has lost 3.3 billion euros due to export failures or delays.

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