US allies waver on joining Red Sea task force – Reuters — RT World News

US allies waver on joining Red Sea task force – Reuters — RT World News

Countries listed as part of a US-led effort to protect shipping from Houthi attacks have yet to confirm their participation, the agency says

Several US allies are withholding their support for a maritime coalition aimed at protecting shipping routes in the Red Sea from attacks by Houthi militants in Yemen, Reuters has reported.

When the Biden administration announced the task force of 20 nations earlier this month, it was seeking a firm international response to actions by the Houthis, but so far only 12 countries have confirmed their participation in the effort, the news agency said in an article on Thursday.

Two US allies in the EU – Spain and Italy, who were eventually named as contributors to ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’ – have since distanced themselves from the task force.

Madrid insisted that it would only take part in NATO-led missions or EU-coordinated operations. “We will not participate unilaterally in the Red Sea operation,” it said. Rome confirmed that it is sending a warship to the area, but stressed that this was at the request of Italian shipowners, not as part of ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian.’

“The reluctance of some US allies to link themselves to the effort partly reflects the fissures created by the conflict in Gaza,” Reuters stated.

Washington continues to back the Israeli military operation in the Palestinian enclave, despite increasing international criticism the Israeli bombardment, through which more than 21,000 Palestinians have been killed according to Gaza’s health ministry.

The Houthis, who control a large part of Yemen’s territory, including the capital Sanaa, have said they will be targeting Israeli-linked vessels in response to Israel airstrikes and the ground invasion of Gaza. Since November 19, a dozen ships have been attacked or hijacked along the busy shipping route.

The Red Sea is the entry point for ships using the Suez Canal, through which some 12% of worldwide trade passes, according to the US Naval Institute.

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said earlier that “the coalition formed by America is to protect Israel and militarize the sea without any justification,” adding that it would not be able to stop the group from targeting ships heading for Israel.

US Central Command announced late on Thursday that a US Navy guided-missile destroyer shot down a drone and an anti-ship ballistic missile that were fired by the Houthis. None of the 18 ships that were in the area were damaged in the incident, it added.

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