Germany Approves Naval Deployment to Protect Ships Against Houthi attacks

News Agencies | 2024-02-24 10:59 PM UTC
Germany Approves Naval Deployment to Protect Ships Against Houthi attacks


Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, on Friday overwhelmingly approved a new mandate committing the Bundeswehr to deploy as many as 700 soldiers, as well as materiel including the navy frigate Hessen, to the Red Sea as part of an EU mission aimed at providing safe passage to commercial vessels under threat of attack from nearby Iran-backed Houthis. Berlin estimates the cost of the deployment will be about €56 million ($60.6 million). Friday's vote saw wide support for the mandate, with 538 parliamentarians voting for it and only 31 against, with four abstentions. The Houthis have been attacking vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden months in solidarity with Palestinian civilians in Gaza which Israel has bombed since October last year.


American forces shot down three attack drones near commercial ships in the Red Sea on Friday and destroyed seven anti-ship cruise missiles positioned on land, the US military said. Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis have been targeting shipping for months and their attacks have persisted despite repeated American and British strikes aimed at degrading the rebels’ ability to threaten a vital global trade route. On Friday, US forces “shot down three Houthi one-way attack [drones] near several commercial ships operating in the Red Sea. There was no damage to any ships,” the Central Command (CENTCOM) said on social media. Seven Iranian-backed Houthi mobile anti-ship cruise missiles that were prepared to launch towards the Red Sea were destroyed, according to the statement.


On Friday evening, the Houthi group threatened to close the Bab al-Mandab Strait and prevent all ships from passing through the Red Sea. Houthi leader Hussein al-Ezzi tweeted on the platform (X) that his group is capable of completely closing the Bab al-Mandab Strait. He added that the fact that the strait has not been closed yet means that the group is keen on maintaining safe international navigation. These statements came a day after Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi threatened to escalate naval operations against ships linked to the United States, Britain and Israel. On Thursday, the group warned Israeli, American and British ships against sailing in the waters of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.


The Biden administration on Friday said Israel's expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank is inconsistent with international law, signaling a return to long-standing U.S. policy on the issue that had been reversed by the previous administration of Donald Trump. Speaking at a news conference during a trip to Buenos Aires, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was "disappointed" in Israel's announcement of plans for building new housing in the occupied West Bank, saying they were counterproductive to reaching an enduring peace. Most countries regard the settlements, which in many areas cut Palestinian communities off from each other, as a violation of international law. Israel claims a biblical birthright to the land.