Pentagon announces new international maritime protection force for the Red Sea

The U.S, along with other nations, has announced the establishment of a new maritime protection force, named Operation Prosperity Guardian, for the Red Sea to guard ships against Houthi attacks from Yemen.

The situation: In recent weeks, commercial ships on the Red Sea have suffered attacks by drones and ballistic missiles fired from Houthi-controlled regions in Yemen.
* The severity has prompted some shipping companies to order their ships to remain stationary until the safety condition improves.
* There are approximately 400 commercial vessels in the southern Red Sea at any given time.
* Houthi militants have attacked or seized commercial ships 12 times within the last month and 25 crew members remain hostage in Yemen.

In response: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on Tuesday in Bahrain the creation of Operation Prosperity Guardian.
* This new initiative will provide an “umbrella protection” to as many vessels as possible in the region.
* The stance was challenged by Mohammed Abdel-Salam, the Houthis’ chief negotiator and spokesman, saying the Iranian-backed rebels would continue to target vessels linked to Israel.

Participating nations: Several countries have joined the new maritime security mission, including the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles, and Spain.
* China, despite having warships in the region, remains a notable absentee.
* Some other countries have agreed to participate but have chosen to remain unnamed.
* The mission will be coordinated by Combined Task Force 153, set up in April 2022, which already oversees maritime security in the region.

Additionally, a private response: Shipping company Maersk has chosen to reroute its ships, opting for a longer and less efficient passage via the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, due to the uncertain situation.
* They support the international security effort but believe that the longer route will bring more predictable results for its customers.
View original article on NPR
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