Spain and Italy have withdrawn from a military alliance initiated by the US aimed at countering Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.
This development raises concerns about potential complications in the shipping passage through a crucial channel responsible for 15 percent of global trade.
Reuters reports that just a week after the US launched Operation Prosperity Guardian to safeguard the Red Sea from Houthi assaults, the two European allies have distanced themselves from the maritime force.
Despite the Pentagon’s description of the coalition as a defensive measure involving over 20 nations to secure the flow of commerce in Red Sea waters off Yemen, almost half of the participating countries have not publicly acknowledged their contributions.
Contributions within the coalition vary from dispatching warships to sending staff officers, and the lack of acknowledgment underscores a broader hesitation among US allies to associate with the initiative.
The hesitation is, in part, attributed to the divisions arising from the conflict in Gaza, where President Biden maintains staunch support for Israel despite accusations of genocide by human rights bodies, with over 21,000 Palestinian casualties reported since October 7.
Pundits have opined that European governments fear backlash from a critical public increasingly opposed to Israel and wary of being drawn into conflicts.
The Houthi attacks on Israel-linked ships, involving missiles and drones since November 19, explicitly link their actions to Israel’s attacks on Gaza, warning of further trade losses if the occupation state does not cease its actions.