U.S. Forms Coalition to Protect Red Sea Navigation After Houthi Attacks (Anadolu Agency)

Several U.S. allies said they supported efforts to protect navigation in the Red Sea after attacks by Yemen's Houthi group, but some said they would not join a naval coalition Washington said it was forming for the mission.

The response has added to the confusion of shipping companies, some of which have rerouted ships away from the area after attacks the Houthi group says they are launching in response to Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday announced plans to form a multinational coalition to protect maritime navigation in the Red Sea called Operation Guardian of Prosperity.

Austin said on a tour of the Middle East the operations would be joined by Britain, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain.

What do these countries say?

  • France

The French Defense Ministry said it supported efforts to secure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and surrounding area, and was already operating in the area, but added that its ships would remain under French command and did not say whether it would deploy other naval forces.

France has a naval base in the UAE and 1500,<> troops in Djibouti, and its frigate Languedoc is currently in the Red Sea.

  • Italy

Italy's defence ministry said it would send the naval frigate Virginio Vasan to the Red Sea to protect its interests in response to specific requests made by Italian shipowners.

She said this was part of her current operations and not part of Operation Guardian of Prosperity.

  • Spain

Spain's defence ministry has said it will only participate in NATO-led missions or EU-coordinated operations, adding: "We will not participate unilaterally in the Red Sea operation."

  • Britain

Britain said the destroyer HMS Diamond would join Operation Guardian of Prosperity, and Britain's Ministry of Defence said the coalition would operate as part of the US-led Joint Naval Forces.

  • Other countries

The Netherlands said it would send two officers, and Norway said it would send 10 naval officers to Bahrain, which hosts the headquarters of the Joint Maritime Forces Command.

What maritime alliances exist in the region?

Navies from several countries are already involved in international operations to protect shipping lanes in the region and include protecting ships from pirates who have disrupted shipping off the coast of Somalia for several years.

These include:

  • Operation Atalanta is established by the European Union Naval Force in Somalia and operates off the Horn of Africa and in the western Indian Ocean in support of UN resolutions to protect the seas from piracy. It is based in Spain.
  • Operation Agenor is a European-led operation aimed at ensuring freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping lane for oil exports from Gulf states.
  • The Combined Maritime Forces is a multinational maritime partnership led by the United States from Bahrain, which is home to the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, and the Combined Maritime Forces includes 39 members, including NATO, European, regional and other member countries, and one of its tasks is Joint Task Force 153 operating in the Red Sea.

Source: Reuters