The head of the Pentagon announced Monday evening that a ten-nation coalition was formed to respond to Houthi attacks in the Red Sea against ships the Yemeni rebels consider “linked to Israel.” They include France, England and Bahrain.
The U.S. Defense Secretary announced Monday, December 18, that he is forming a 10-nation coalition in the Red Sea to counter the Houthis’ continued attacks against ships these Yemeni rebels consider “linked to Israel.”
In addition to the United States, Lloyd’s Austin indicated in a press release that France, the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the Seychelles will participate in the alliance.
“The recent escalation of reckless Houthi attacks from Yemen threatens the free flow of trade, endangers the lives of innocent sailors and violates international law,” he said. “That’s why today I’m announcing the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian,” the Pentagon chief said.
Visiting Israel Lloyd Austin called on Iran to end its “support” for Houthi operations against merchant shipping following talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel is not among the countries the Pentagon chief has mentioned as part of the Red Sea Alliance.
In 2019, Washington launched a naval alliance to protect maritime traffic in Gulf waters, after a series of attacks the US attributed to Iran, which it apparently denied.
Traffic is suspended
Earlier on Monday, the Houthis claimed responsibility for fresh attacks in the Red Sea targeting two ships “linked to Israel”. The Houthis said in a statement that they had “carried out a military operation using seaplanes against two ships linked to the Zionist entity,” identifying the targeted ships as the M/T Swan Atlantic and the MSC Clara.
The owner of the Norwegian vessel M/T Swan Atlantic has admitted that the tanker was hit by an “unidentified object”. “Fortunately the Indian crew were not injured and according to them, the vessel sustained minimal damage,” Norwegian ship owner Inventor Chemical Tankers said in a statement.
Through the strategic Bab al-Mandeb strait, which separates the Arabian Peninsula from Africa, maritime transport giants pass through a route that will soon pass 40% of world trade.
Following the example of many ship owners, British hydrocarbon company BP and Taiwanese shipping company Evergreen have announced the suspension of all traffic in the Red Sea due to the series of attacks.
Over the weekend, Danish Maersk, German Habakk-Lloyd, French CMA CGM and Italian-Swiss MSC announced in recent days that their ships would not use the Red Sea “until further notice”. Until Monday or until the passage is “safe”. The head of French diplomacy, Catherine Colonna, assessed on Sunday that the attacks “cannot go unanswered”.
Nothing to do with Israel
The Houthis, who control much of Yemen, have warned that they will target ships sailing off the country’s coast if they have links with Israel, in retaliation for the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. Several missiles and drones were shot down by warships patrolling the area.
The Red Sea is a “highway of the sea” connecting the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, and therefore Europe to Asia. About 20,000 ships pass through the Suez Canal each year, the entry and exit point for ships transiting the Red Sea.
“The vessel has no connection with Israel either on its owner (Norway) or technical management (Singapore) or on its loading side,” underlined the owner of the Norwegian vessel M/T Swan Atlantic. From mainland France to Reunion. It is currently under the protection of the US Navy.
If they no longer went through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, ships would have to go around Africa and pass through the Cape of Good Hope, which would significantly lengthen voyages.
According to S&P Global, the detour extends the journey by 40% to connect Rotterdam and Singapore. He explains that several ships, particularly from Maersk and MSC, have already taken this route in recent days.
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