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Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Spain Not to Join US-Led Red Sea Coalition


Sun 24 Dec 2023 | 11:15 PM
Israa Farhan

Spain will not participate in the international coalition to protect navigation in the Red Sea against Houthi rebel attacks in Yemen.

However, Spain will not oppose the participation of other European countries in a specific mission.

After several days of delay, the Spanish left-wing government clarified in a statement from the Ministry of Defense published on Saturday evening that they oppose expanding the European Atalanta mission, which has been combating piracy in the Indian Ocean since 2008.

The ministry noted that the recent resurgence of piracy in the region "requires maximum investment" in this mission. It emphasized that the "nature and objectives of the Atalanta mission [...] have nothing to do with what we aim to achieve in the Red Sea."

In this regard, the government of socialist Pedro Sánchez considered it "essential" to establish a new and specific mission dedicated to protecting commercial maritime navigation in the Red Sea.

The ministry stated that this mission must have its "scope of action, means, and specific objectives defined by the relevant bodies in the European Union," adding that "Spain does not oppose the creation of this mission under any circumstances."

Responding to a question from AFP on Sunday, the ministry spokesperson clarified that Spain "will not participate" in the current operation. The ministry did not specify the reasons for this rejection, which was announced shortly after a phone call on Friday between US President Joe Biden and Sánchez.

The White House stated that the conversation focused particularly on "condemning the current attacks by the Houthis against commercial ships in the Red Sea," a topic that the Spanish government did not mention in its discussion of the phone call.

Hussein Al-Azzi, Deputy Foreign Minister in the Houthi rebel government, said via the "X" platform, "We highly appreciate Spain's abstention from succumbing to American and British lies regarding maritime navigation."

Spanish newspapers reported on Sunday that Madrid's refusal to participate in the mission led by the United States may be due to domestic political reasons.