Spain, Italy, France decline US Red Sea coalition

2023-12-24 10:41:35
Spain, Italy, France decline US Red Sea coalition

France, Spain, and Italy have officially withdrawn their participation from a US-led maritime task force in the Red Sea to protect passage of Israeli-owned and Israel-bound vessels.

The three nations have explicitly stated their commitment to operating exclusively under the command of international bodies such as the United Nations, NATO, or the European Union, choosing not to align with the United States.

The French Defense Ministry announced in a statement that it supported efforts to secure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and surrounding area and said it already operated in the region.

However, it said its ships would stay under French command and did not say if it would deploy more naval forces.

Italy’s Defense Ministry also said it would send naval frigate Virginio Fasan to the Red Sea to protect its national interests in response to specific requests made by Italian ship owners.

It said this was part of its existing operations, and was not part of the US-led naval coalition in the waterway.

Moreover, Spain’s Defense Ministry said it would only participate in NATO-led missions or EU-coordinated operations.

“We will not participate unilaterally in the Red Sea operation,” it noted.

On Thursday, the Pentagon said more than 20 countries had now agreed to participate in the US-led maritime task in the Red Sea, known as so-called Operation Prosperity Guardian.

The lack of details and clarity over what countries are doing has added to confusion for shipping companies, some of which have been re-routing vessels away from the area, amid a flurry of drone and missile attacks in the Red Sea by Yemeni forces in retaliation for the Israeli war on Gaza.

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin announced the formation of the coalition – including Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the Seychelles, Spain and the UK – on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Austin said Greece and Australia had also joined the grouping, taking it to a total of 20, but added that at least eight countries taking part have declined to be publicly named.

Yemenis have declared their open support for Palestine’s struggle against the Israeli occupation since the regime launched a devastating war on Gaza on October 7 after the territory’s Palestinian resistance movements carried out a surprise retaliatory attack, dubbed Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, against the occupying entity.

The relentless Israeli military campaign against Gaza has killed at least 20,258 people, most of them women and children. Another 53,688 individuals have been wounded.

Reports revealed that Israeli shipping companies have already decided to reroute their vessels in fear of attacks by Yemeni forces.

Yemeni forces have also launched missile and drone attacks on targets in the Israeli-occupied territories of Palestine after the occupying regime’s aggression on Gaza.

(Source: Agencies)


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