Internet InfoMedia italy joins eu naval mission to protect ships after italian destroyer is attacked
  • Italian lawmakers approved the country’s involvement in an EU naval mission safeguarding cargo ships in the Red Sea from Houthi rebel attacks.
  • Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said that the mission is defensive but grants Italian ships the authority to defend themselves.
  • The Senate approved the mission with a vote of 153-0.

Italian lawmakers on Tuesday approved the country’s participation in an EU naval mission to protect cargo ship in the Red Sea from attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen threatening maritime traffic.

Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani told lawmakers before the vote that the mission, launched last month, is strictly defensive, but that Italian ships would have the power to defend themselves. On Saturday, the Italian destroyer Caio Duilio shot down a drone launched by Houthis in a strait between the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.

The missions is tasked with “self-defense, that is the neutralization of direct attacks on merchant ships under escort and repelling any attempts to seize the vessels,’’ Tajani told the the lower house of parliament, which voted 271-6 in favor of the so-called Aspides mission. That includes responding with military force in the case of attack, he said.

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The Senate later approved the mission with a vote of 153-0.

Antoni Tajani

Italian Foreign Minister Antoni Tajani speaks at the Senate on March 5, 2024, in Rome. Italian lawmakers on Tuesday approved the country’s participation in an EU naval mission to protect cargo ships in the Red Sea from attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen threatening maritime traffic. (Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse via AP)

The Iranian-backed Houthis have waged a campaign of drone and missile attacks on commercial ships in protest of Israel’s offensive in Gaza against Hamas, launched in retaliation for Hamas-led attacks on Israel on Oct. 7. However, the rebels have frequently targeted vessels with no clear links to Israel.

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Italy’s Defense Minister Guido Crosetto noted on Tuesday, a day after a Houthi attack on a Swiss-owned ship with a Liberian flag, that neither country had “participated in any way in the Gaza conflict.”

The vote also approved Italy’s participation in a humanitarian mission in Gaza, as well as a justice ministry mission to help rebuild civil society in Ukraine.

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