The Middle East conflict has been expanding for weeks with launches on U.S. military post in the Middle East and rocket launches on ships in the Red, but on Monday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced a further expansion of a multinational maritime security force to protect ships in the Red Sea from missile and drone attack from Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
What’s At Stake?
The free flow of commerce which endangers mariners and additional violations of international law said Austin in a statement.
Some companies have had to halt their cargo shipments through the Red Sea.
The new initiative is called Operation Prosperity Guardian.
"Operation Prosperity Guardian is bringing together multiple countries to include the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles, and Spain, to jointly address security challenges in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, with the goal of ensuring freedom of navigation for all countries and bolstering regional security and prosperity," read Austin's Department of Defense statement.
Secretary of Defense Austin told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant that the U.S. is concerned the Red Sea situation could morph from an economic war into a physical war.
On Monday in Tel Aviv, Austin said at a press conference that he is going to hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday with regional and global counterparts to discuss the Yemeni Houthi threat and U.S. potential responses.
Austin is expected to announce on Tuesday a maritime task force to escort ships in the Red Sea and deter Houthi attacks.
Since the Hamas Oct. 7 attacks inside Israel, the Houthis have launched more than 70 drones and ballistic missiles towards Israel claims the Israeli Defense Forces.
The Houthis escalated their attacks by targeting commercial ships in recent weeks into the vicinity of the Bab el-Mandeb strait in the Red Sea, which they claim were owned by Israeli companies or were heading to Israel.