The Houthi attack, tomorrow the vote for Aspides

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The Houthi attack, tomorrow the vote for Aspides

Tomorrow will be the day of truth for the new European Aspides mission. Against the backdrop of the first attack on Italy launched by the Houthi rebels, parliament is preparing to vote on the resolution that will finally allow the operation launched by Brussels to begin a week ago. Time is running out and the threats from the Yemeni rebels are multiplying by the hour. This time the terrorists are targeting not only American or British vessels, but also European ones. “15% of global trade passes through the Red Sea – the words of the Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni – we must remain focused on a quadrant that is crucial for our national and commercial interests”.

Precisely for this reason the Minister of Defense, Guido Crosetto, relaunches the idea of a common defense, to “make different systems communicate in order to integrate them”. What is worrying now, however, are the continuous raids in the south of the Red Sea, on that route through which 6 billion of Italian exports pass, as noted by Coldiretti. A route on which rockets and drones launched from Yemen have been raining down for months with the aim of hitting the nations that support the government of Israel: the United States and Great Britain above all. Aspides, the 'shield' – as the Greek word indicates – against terrorist attacks, will be added in a few days to the European mission Atalanta, which has been monitoring the area against Somali piracy for years and which has been under Italian command for three weeks.

The operational base will be right on the Caio Duilio, the Navy destroyer that yesterday intercepted and shot down the Houthi drone. In command, however, there will be Rear Admiral Stefano Costantino, already on board the Duilio and ready to lead the European fleet, which is also already deployed in the area. “We are ready and trained for this – explains the commander of the Duilio, the captain of the vessel Andrea Quondamatteo -, we bring with us the experience of the ships that preceded us”. The tactical and strategic role of Italy in the Red Sea is also strengthened by the command assignment that will be assigned to our country for the Combined Task Force 153, within which the 'Prosperity Guardian' operates, a multinational mission aimed precisely at to the safety of navigation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Hades, that is – as Crosetto himself said in the Foreign and Defense Commission – “in that stretch of sea now put at risk by the Houthis”.

“The terrorist attacks by the Houthis – the Defense Minister himself reiterated today – are a serious violation of international law and an attack on the safety of maritime traffic on which our economy depends”. In fact, important percentages of the main Italian agri-food products, but also tobacco and fodder, pass through the Suez Canal, as Coldiretti explains. And it is precisely in that area that the Yemeni rebels operate but spare the merchant ships that refer to China or Russia. Today, just hours after the sinking of the British-owned Rubymar ship, fighters vowed they will continue to target and sink British ships passing through the Gulf of Aden. Right there where, yesterday, for the first time since the Second World War an Italian military ship returned to firing cannons.

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