Home Community Insights German government agrees to join EU military mission to Red Sea

German government agrees to join EU military mission to Red Sea

German government agrees to join EU military mission to Red Sea

The German government has decided to participate in the EU military mission in the Red Sea. This was announced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday. The mission is intended to ensure the safety of shipping in the region and defuse tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt over the Nile Dam.

The EU military mission in the Red Sea was decided by EU foreign ministers in December 2023. It is said to consist of about 3000 soldiers, several warships and aircraft. The mission will work closely with the United Nations, the African Union and regional actors.

Germany’s participation in the mission is a sign of solidarity with EU partners and responsibility for international security, said Angela Merkel. She emphasized that the mission is not a combat mission, but a preventive and stabilizing measure. She added that Germany continues to support diplomatic solutions to the conflicts in the region.

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The German government’s decision was welcomed by most parties in the Bundestag. The Greens, who form a coalition with the CDU/CSU, said the mission was an important contribution to peacebuilding. The Social Democratic Party (SPD), the main opposition party, praised the mission as a step towards strengthening Europe’s defence identity.

The FDP demanded a clear mandate and control of the mission by parliament. The Left Party and the AfD rejected the mission and warned of an escalation of violence in the region.

What is EU military mission to Red Sea?

The European Union has recently launched a naval mission to protect international shipping in the Red Sea from attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have been targeting commercial vessels in the area since the outbreak of the war in Gaza.

The mission, named Aspides, meaning protector, is based in Greece and commanded by Rear Admiral Vasileios Gryparis. It involves several EU member states, including France, Germany, and Italy, who will deploy naval assets and personnel to deter and intercept Houthi attacks.

The Red Sea is a vital maritime route for global trade, especially between Asia and Europe. According to the EU, about 12% of global trade and 40% of trade between Asia and Europe passes through the Red Sea.

The Houthi rebels, who control much of Yemen and are backed by Iran, have been launching missiles and drones against ships in the southern Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a narrow chokepoint that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. The Houthis claim they are acting in solidarity with the Palestinians as Israel and Hamas wage war in Gaza.

The EU’s naval mission aims to ensure freedom of navigation and maritime security in the Red Sea, as well as to support diplomatic efforts to end the conflicts in Yemen and Gaza. The mission is part of the EU’s broader maritime strategy for the Northwest Indian Ocean, which covers a large area from the Strait of Hormuz to the Tropic of Capricorn and from the Red Sea toward the center of the Indian Ocean.

The EU has designated this area as a “maritime area of interest” and has established a mechanism called “coordinated maritime presence” (CMP) to increase European naval coordination and cooperation with regional partners.

The EU’s naval mission is also a sign of Europe’s willingness to take action against instability and threats in its neighborhood, as well as to assert its role as a global actor and a security provider.

The mission is an example of European defense cooperation and solidarity, which have been enhanced by initiatives such as Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and European Defense Fund (EDF). The mission also complements the existing U.S.-led Operation Prosperity Guardian, which includes several European countries among its members.

The EU’s naval mission faces several challenges and risks, however. The mission will have to coordinate with other actors operating in the area, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, and China. The mission will also have to avoid escalation with Iran, which supports the Houthis and has its own naval presence in the region.

Moreover, the mission will have to deal with potential legal issues regarding the use of force and rules of engagement against non-state actors. Finally, the mission will have to cope with environmental hazards such as piracy, smuggling, terrorism, and climate change.

The EU’s naval mission to the Red Sea is an important step for Europe’s maritime strategy, regional cooperation, and defense integration. It demonstrates Europe’s commitment to uphold international law and security in a strategic area that affects its interests and values. It also shows Europe’s readiness to act autonomously and responsibly in a complex and volatile environment.

Bangladesh and India agree on using Non-Lethal Weapons to ensure zero border killing

In a significant development, Bangladesh and India have agreed to use non-lethal weapons by their border forces to ensure zero casualties along the 4,096-km frontier, the fifth-longest land border in the world. The decision was taken during the 51st biannual meeting of the Border Security Force (BSF) of India and the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) held in Dhaka from February 9 to 13.

The meeting discussed various issues related to border management, security cooperation, and mutual trust. The two sides reviewed the progress made in implementing the decisions taken at the previous meeting held in New Delhi in September 2023. They also exchanged views on how to further enhance coordination and cooperation in preventing cross-border crimes, smuggling, trafficking, and illegal migration.

The border issue between Dhaka and Delhi has been a source of tension and cooperation between the two countries since their independence from British colonial rule in 1947. The partition of India along religious lines led to the creation of East Pakistan, which later became Bangladesh after a bloody war of liberation in 1971. India supported Bangladesh’s independence struggle and provided refuge to millions of refugees who fled the Pakistani army’s atrocities.

Since then, India and Bangladesh have signed several agreements to demarcate their border, exchange enclaves, resolve disputes and enhance cooperation on security, trade and connectivity. However, many challenges remain unresolved, such as the fencing of the border, the management of river waters, the status of undocumented migrants and the rise of Islamist extremism.

One of the main reasons for the border crisis is the lack of effective border management by both sides. According to officials from India’s Border Security Force (BSF), which is responsible for guarding India’s border with Bangladesh, there are many gaps in the border management system that facilitate infiltration and cross-border crimes such as cattle smuggling and drug and human trafficking.

Many stretches of the border are yet to be fenced, while others are marked by rivers, forests and hills that make surveillance difficult. The BSF also faces allegations of using excessive force and killing civilians along the border.

The border crisis has serious implications for both countries and their relations. For India, a stable and friendly Bangladesh is vital for its security and economic interests in South Asia. India needs Bangladesh’s cooperation to counter terrorism, insurgency and smuggling in its northeastern states, as well as to access new markets and energy sources in Southeast Asia.

For Bangladesh, a good relationship with India is important for its development, trade and regional integration. Bangladesh also benefits from India’s assistance in various sectors such as health, education and infrastructure.

According to a joint statement issued after the meeting, both sides agreed to use non-lethal weapons by the border forces within the rules of engagement, with a view to bringing down border killings or injuries to zero. They also agreed to take appropriate measures against criminals involved in cross-border crimes such as smuggling of drugs, cattle, arms and ammunition, human trafficking and fake currency.

The joint statement said that both sides reiterated their commitment to uphold human rights and dignity of the people living in the border areas. They also agreed to conduct joint awareness campaigns to educate the border population about the sanctity of the international border and prevent them from crossing it illegally or inadvertently.

The meeting also witnessed the signing of a Joint Record of Discussions (JRD) between the two DGs, which reflects the deliberations and decisions taken during the meeting. The JRD will serve as a guideline for future cooperation and coordination between the two border forces.

The meeting was held in a cordial and friendly atmosphere, reflecting the mutual trust and understanding between the two countries. Both sides expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the meeting and hoped that it would further strengthen the bilateral relations and cooperation in the field of border management. The next DG-level meeting will be held in India in August 2024.

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