27th Feb 2024

Houthi attacks on cargo ships risk regional conflict, says EU

  • November takeover of the Galaxy Leader cargo ship by Houthi fighters (Photo: Houthis)
Listen to article

Attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis risks destabilising the region, says the European Union.

"This is an unacceptable violation of international law, this presents threats to maritime security and to security and peace in the region as well," said Peter Stano, EU foreign policy spokesperson.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Tuesday (19 December), Stano also said the attacks require an international response.

He also said the European Union is currently discussing options and how best to "adapt our response to this unacceptable behaviour by Houthis."

The escalation is part of a wider response by Yemen's pro-Palestinian Houthis to the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.

The militants had vowed to continue the attacks "until the Israeli aggression stops", sparking fears of a greater regional conflict that will draw more bloodshed.

On Monday, the US announced a 10-nation coalition to curtail Houthi missile and drone attacks against the cargo vessels.

EU countries France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain figure among the coalition, codenamed Operation Prosperity Guardian.

But the Houthis appear unfazed.

Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a senior Houthi official, said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the US-backed coalition would make no difference.

"[It] will not prevent us from continuing our military operations until the crimes of genocide in Gaza are stopped," he said on Tuesday.

He also warned that the US military move would expand the scope of the conflict.

The Red Sea is linked to the Mediterranean by the Suez Canal. Some 12 percent of the world shipping traffic transits through the canal.

But the attacks means some cargo vessels are now opting for the much longer east-west route. The 36-day trip bends around the southern tip of Africa, possibly driving up spot crude prices.

Danish shipping giant Maersk on Tuesday announced it would pause all vessels bound for the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.


Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza

Despite the high risk of dying from war, starvation or disease, Gazans are still not allowed to enter Egypt. Except those who bribe the authorities. And the EU mission EUBAM Rafah cannot be deployed due to security reasons.

Latest News

  1. All of Orbán's MPs back Sweden's Nato entry
  2. India makes first objection to EU carbon levy at WTO summit
  3. Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices
  4. Luxembourg denies blind spot on Nato security vetting
  5. Record rate-profits sees EU banks give shareholders €120bn
  6. Why the EU silence on why Orban's €10bn was unblocked?
  7. Far-right MEPs least disciplined in following party line
  8. More farmers, Ukraine aid, Yulia Navalnaya in focus This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us