German government approves military participation in EU Red Sea mission

By Thomson Reuters Feb 16, 2024 | 6:03 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) – The German government has approved the deployment of armed forces in a European Union naval mission in the Red Sea to protect merchant ships from attacks by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia, a government spokesperson said on Friday.

Many commercial shippers have diverted vessels following attacks by the Houthis, who control much of Yemen and say they are acting in solidarity with the Palestinians as Israel and Hamas wage war in Gaza.

“The ongoing escalation of violence and the threat to life and limb of the crews of ships, particularly in the southern Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab Strait, require a robustly equipped military operation,” the government spokesperson said during a regular press conference in Berlin.

Germany’s participation still hinges on parliamentary approval. A vote on the matter is scheduled for next Friday and is widely expected to go through.

Parliamentarians are to receive a motion for a mandate running up till the end of February 2025 with an upper limit of 700 soldiers deployed, the spokesperson said.

In early February, a German air defence frigate was sent to join the EU mission. France, Greece and Italy are among the countries that will participate in the mission, named Aspides, meaning protector.

They will be mandated to protect commercial ships and intercept attacks, but not take part in strikes against the Houthis on land.

(Reporting by Nette Nöstlinger and Miranda Murray, Editing by Rachel More)