Italy declined to act against Houthis

Italy declined to act against Houthis

ROME (Reuters): Italy declined to take part in US and British strikes overnight against the Houthi group in Yemen, a government source said on Friday, explaining that Rome preferred to pursue a “calming” policy in the Red Sea.

The source, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, also said the government would have needed parliamentary backing to take part in any military action, making swift approval impossible.

The United States and Britain struck multiple targets in Yemen from the air and the sea, while the Netherlands, Australia, Canada and Bahrain provided logistical and intelligence support, US officials have said.

The overnight strikes were a response to repeated Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea – one of the world’s busiest trade lanes. The group, which is backed by Iran, says its attacks were a sign of solidarity with Hamas.

Earlier this week, Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto told Reuters that the Houthi attacks had to be stopped without triggering a new war in the region.

The United States and other countries last month launched Operation Prosperity Guardian to protect civilian vessels in the busy Red Sea.

Italy announced in December it would send a naval vessel to the area following requests for backup from ship owners, but it did not sign up for the US-led mission, with other EU allies also appearing to distance themselves from the initiative.

Crosetto said Italy would have needed parliamentary approval for its involvement in a new international naval mission, complicating any eventual adherence.