Spain rules out joining EU's Red Sea mission against Houthis

AFP - [email protected]
Spain rules out joining EU's Red Sea mission against Houthis
Huthi fighters brandish their weapons during a march in solidarity with the Palestinian people in the Huthi-controlled capital Sanaa on January 11, 2024. (Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP)

Spain will not take part in a possible European Union naval mission to help protect Red Sea shipping following attacks from Yemen's Houthi rebels, Defence Minister Margarita Robles said Friday.


"We don't know yet if the European Union is going to do a new mission" but if it does, "Spain is not going to take part in it in the Red Sea, because it is already taking part in 17 missions," Robles told reporters in Madrid.

"Spain's position on this subject has always been clear," she said.

EU countries will next week discuss a plan to set up a naval mission to help protect Red Sea shipping from the Iran-backed Houthis, who have launched attacks on vessels in response to Israel's bombardments of Hamas militants in Gaza.


The proposal, under discussion in Brussels for several weeks, was mooted before US and British forces struck rebel-held Yemen early on Friday.

Any EU effort would seek to complement a US-led coalition, which includes several countries from the bloc, that is already operating in the vital shipping lane.

The details of the size and scope of any EU mission remain to be hammered out, and European diplomats said a first discussion would take place in Brussels on Tuesday.

The EU last year initially considered a plan to expand its "Atalanta" mission focused on protecting shipping off Somalia, but that move was blocked by Spain.

While no reason was given, Spanish media reports say the decision not to participate was driven by domestic politics.

Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez governs in a minority coalition with the hard-left Sumar party, which generally opposes US foreign policy.

The Iran-backed Houthis have carried out a growing number of attacks on what they deem to be Israeli-linked shipping in the key international trade route since October 7, when Hamas's unprecedented attack on Israel sparked the war that is still raging in the besieged Gaza Strip.


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