Spain blocks EU’s involvement in US-led Red Sea operation

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BARCELONA: Spain has rejected the EU’s decision to join the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian in the Red Sea, according to the El Confidencial newspaper. The operation aims to protect the freedom of navigation and the safety of ships in the region amid the threats from the Yemeni rebels.

The newspaper reported that Spain initially supported the EU’s participation in the operation, which would be an extension of the existing Operation Atalanta. However, on December 21, Spain vetoed the decision at a meeting of the EU’s international relations advisers, without giving any explanation to its partners.

The EU’s diplomatic chief Josep Borrell had announced on December 20 that the EU member states had agreed to join the US operation, following the escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the Gaza Strip. The Yemeni rebels, also known as the Houthis, had vowed to attack Israeli territory and prevent any Israeli-affiliated ships from passing through the Red Sea and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait until the Israeli operation in Gaza was halted.

The US authorities had launched Operation Prosperity Guardian in response to the Houthi threats, and had invited the EU and other allies to join the mission.