Europe Sending Navy To Red Sea To Fight Houthis

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Wednesday that he expects a seven-nation European fleet to head to the Red Sea sometime after Feb. 19 to defend international shipping from attacks by Yemeni Houthi terrorists.

“This is the purpose: protection of the ships. Intercepting of the attacks against the ships. Not participating in any kind of action against the Houthis. Only blocking the attacks of the Houthis,” said Borrell while speaking with reporters before chairing a meeting of EU defense ministers in Belgium.

“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,” Borrell said, referring to the long route around Africa shipping companies are taking to avoid Houthi terrorist attacks. “It’s affecting prices, it’s affecting inflation. So, it’s a natural endeavor for us to try to avoid this risk.”

Borrell says that he expects the European Union foreign ministers to approve the naval mission at a meeting on Feb. 19. Seven EU countries have already committed to providing ships and planes, including Belgium, Germany, Italy, France and Greece. Belgium and Germany will each send a frigate.

According to the foreign policy chief, the mission — named Aspides, which is Greek for “shield” — will be defensive only, not intended to strike Houthi targets inland. Which country will lead the mission is still under discussion, with France, Italy and Greece vying for the role.

Greek Defense Minister Nikos Dendias said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, “I informed my counterparts that Greece is offering the Larissa Headquarters as the Headquarters for the Operation, as well as that it is ready to lead the Operation. Our offer was positively received.”

Since mid-November, Houthi terrorists have launched over 30 missile and drone attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Since the spate of attacks began, the White House has redesignated the Houthis as a terrorist organization after President Joe Biden removed them from the terrorist list early in his administration.