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Understanding the dual security Operations: European Union and United States in the Red Sea

The European Union has sent a naval force into the Red Sea to defend cargo ships against Houthi rebel strikes in Yemen. Declaring that “Europe will ensure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, working alongside our international partners,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made the announcement on the deployment of Naval Force Operation Aspides. European warships and aerial early warning systems will be deployed by the naval operation to the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and adjacent waterways. At a conference of foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium, Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Antonio Tajani announced the launch, referring to it as “an important step towards common European defense.”

The strategic importance of the Red Sea

Thus far, plans to provide ships have been announced by Belgium, France, Germany, and Italy. According to an EU official who spoke to the German Press Agency dpa, Aspides warships, whose operational command center would be in the Greek city of Larissa, will only be authorized to fire on the Houthis if they strike first. 

They will not be permitted to shoot in advance. Over the course of November, the Houthis have been targeting military and commercial vessels in the heavily trafficked Red Sea, which accounts for 12% of world trade. At first, the organization claimed that it was attacking ships associated with Israel as a show of support for the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli attack since October. Later, after Washington and London launched airstrikes on Houthi locations in Yemen in retaliation for the assaults on ships, the group said that it was broadening its objectives to include boats connected to the United States and the United Kingdom.

Safeguarding trade routes and stability

According to an EU source, Egypt has been hit more by the Houthi strikes than Israel, with the Suez Canal Authority suffering a 40% reduction in revenue due to decreased traffic. “As shipping through the Red Sea has been rerouted, delivery times for shipments between Asia and the EU have increased by 10 to 15 days, and the costs of these shipments have gone up by around 400 percent,” EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentilloni told. 

The main distinction between the two coalitions is what they do. The EU alliance will only take part in defensive operations, such as escorting ships, supplying maritime domain awareness, and using defensive force. 

Geopolitical interests and regional influence

According to Jonathan Lord, head of the Center for a New American Security’s Middle East security program, “Members of Prosperity Guardian have participated in or assisted in strikes on Yemen meant to disrupt the Houthi’s ability to launch attacks,” he told Breaking Defense. 

Yet according to Lord, that doesn’t imply the two coalitions won’t work together, especially because every country in the EU alliance is also a member of NATO. “There is not only demonstrated technical compatibility with the U.S. military, but there is also a desire and incentive for coordination.” In other words, even though some ships are operating with additional limitations, having more allied military ships in the area would increase our capacity to neutralize the maritime danger presented by the Houthis,” he continued. 

Overlapping objectives and coordination challenges

The Houthis have discovered a very effective coercive instrument, and they will keep using it long after the fighting in Gaza has stopped, according to Lord. “The Houthis see their ability to carry out strikes as a potent statement both to their own people and to the region that they can resist American might. Attacks will persist until the US adopts a strategy that makes it possible to hold Iranian authorities responsible for their choice to give the Houthis the weapons they are shooting into international waters. 

The British-registered, Lebanese-operated cargo ship Rubymar, flying the Belizean flag, was attacked in the Red Sea, according to the Houthis, who also claimed it would sink. Yahya Sarea, a spokesman for the Houthi military, stated that the crew was safe in spite of the attack. “The ship was struck quite hard, causing it to come to an abrupt stop. The ship’s considerable damage puts it at risk of sinking in the Gulf of Aden, according to Sarea. He said that in the port city of Hodeidah, the militants had also shot down a US drone.


In conclusion, A US-owned cargo ship flying the Greek flag was also attacked twice in two hours off the coast of southern Yemen, according to a statement from the British maritime security company Ambrey. The ship reported a “missile attack” in the Gulf of Aden, according to Ambrey, and then another projectile struck the sea near the ship. The ship was secure, and it was moving on to the next port of call with its crew, who included five Greeks.


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