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US Defense Secretary announces multinational force to protect trade in Red Sea

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced on Tuesday the formation of a multinational force to protect trade in the Red Sea in the wake of Huthi attacks.

Austin said that the countries participating in the force will carry out joint patrols in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

“The recent escalation in reckless Huthi attacks originating from Yemen threatens the free flow of commerce, endangers innocent mariners, and violates international law,” he stated in a statement published by the US Department of Defense’s website.

“The Red Sea is a critical waterway that has been essential to freedom of navigation and a major commercial corridor that facilitates international trade. Countries that seek to uphold the foundational principle of freedom of navigation must come together to tackle the challenge posed by this non-state actor launching ballistic missiles and uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) at merchant vessels from many nations lawfully transiting international waters.

“This is an international challenge that demands collective action. Therefore, today I am announcing the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian, an important new multinational security initiative under the umbrella of the Combined Maritime Forces and the leadership of its Task Force 153, which focuses on security in the Red Sea,” Austin said.

The Operation Prosperity Guardian brings together several countries, including the UK, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles, and Spain, in addition to the US, to jointly address the security challenges in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

It aims to ensure the freedom of navigation for all countries and enhancing regional security and prosperity.

A member of the political bureau of the Yemeni Huthi group Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, said in press statements that they can confront any coalition formed by the US in the Red Sea.

“The Americans offered not to obstruct efforts to reach peace in Yemen in exchange for stopping our military operations in the Red Sea, and we categorically rejected that and rejected any threats,” he said.

“There are indirect contacts with countries, including America, to stop our operations in the Red Sea,” Bukhaiti said.

In a previous tweet, Bukhaiti stated that “America should seek to stop the crimes of genocide in Gaza instead of establishing an international coalition to protect its perpetrators.”

“We advise the countries of the world not to participate in the American coalition because this does not honor them and will be a disgrace in their history. In addition, we will respond to any aggression with military operations that are unprecedented and not taken into account,” he said.

The Yemeni armed forces threatened that they would not hesitate to target any ship that violates what it stated previously.

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