#ISRAELHAMASWAR. European frigates fleeing from the Red Sea

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Houthi accounts in recent days wrote: “Yemen forces another European frigate to withdraw from the Red Sea.”

The French Navy has, in fact, withdrawn its frigate Alsace (FREMM) from the Red Sea due to what has been described as a high level of threat. The frigate’s commander, Jerome Henry, told French newspaper Le Figaro: “We didn’t necessarily expect this level of threat. There was unbridled violence that was very surprising and very significant. The Houthis do not hesitate to use drones flying at water level to blow them up on commercial ships and launch ballistic missiles”.

The French navy commander highlighted the increasing level of violence, saying: “The level of violence is also increasing: first suicide drones, now the very regular use of ballistic missiles.” “The last firefight actually dates back to 2011, during the Harmattan operation (during the military intervention in Libya). I’ve been there too.

It wasn’t the same. It has been a long time since we have faced this level of weapons and violence. Henry stressed that the threat to the frigate was much greater in the Red Sea, pointing out that the Houthis were perfecting their method: the more they fired, the more accurate they became.

The French naval general explained that all combat equipment on board the frigate was used. “From the Aster missile to the helicopter’s 7.62 machine gun, passing through the 12.7, 20 mm or 76 mm cannon.

He explained that the Aster missiles, which cost two million dollars each, were used to their maximum and on targets not initially imagined.

The French Navy deployed the frigate Alsace to the Red Sea last January alongside the frigate Languedoc, and there are no reports of her being replaced by another frigate.

This is the second European frigate to withdraw from the Red Sea after the Danish frigate Ever Huitveldt which also withdrew due to the high threat and faced serious problems in its defense system which put the vessel and its crew.

Confirming the danger of the Houthi attacks is a news item published by the Israeli agency JNS: “The Houthis are increasingly using an advanced anti-ship ballistic missile armed with an electro-optical sensor that can ‘open its eyes’ and aim with a simple click, arriving in range of the target ship”.

The Houthis also use saturation tactics, “to gain military superiority by overwhelming the other side’s defensive capabilities,” by launching large numbers of drones at the same time.

The United States has tried, through the mediation of Oman, to stop the naval attacks, but the Houthi leadership has not limited itself to the current campaign, but has also threatened to expand its scope to include the Ocean Indian.

The threat to expand the scope of naval operations from Yemen to include the Indian Ocean and even ships taking the Cape of Good Hope route is in itself bold, even if there are no military capabilities according to Israeli media.

Since the revolution in the Yemeni capital Sana’a in 2014, warnings in “Israel” that the Houthis’ weapons would be directed against “Israel” and its allies were in line with their slogan. US-led military operations in Yemen have so far proven ineffective.

Antonio Albanese e Graziella Giangiulio

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