The US is leading a new multinational security initiative in the Red Sea, known as Operation Prosperity Guardian. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced this initiative in Bahrain, emphasizing the need for collective action to address the international challenge in the region. Key partners such as the UK, Canada, and France, as well as Bahrain, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles, and Spain, have already committed to the initiative.
While France, the UK, and the US already have warships in the Red Sea, it is uncertain if other countries will send ships. However, they can support the initiative in alternative ways. Some countries have also agreed to be involved but have chosen to remain anonymous to avoid potential controversy.
Notably, countries bordering the Red Sea, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel, have not announced their involvement. Reports indicate that Saudi Arabia has opposed escalation, while the UAE may be more inclined towards a stronger approach.
Egypt, which recently held a presidential election resulting in Abdel Fattah al-Sisi securing another term, may be cautious about involvement due to potential consequences for shipping companies.
The region currently has around 400 ships, with approximately 20,000 transiting the area annually. Many shipping companies have paused operations, raising concerns among regional media outlets.
Additionally, Iran’s influence in the region continues to be a source of tension. Iranian media have attempted to inflame the region, while Iranian leaders continue to support groups involved in the conflict in Gaza.
The success of the new US-backed initiative will be crucial in securing the Red Sea. The involvement of Western countries is significant for guaranteeing freedom of navigation in the region. However, the absence of support from countries like China, Qatar, Russia, Iran, and Turkey poses a significant challenge. These countries may benefit from the instability in the region.
Ultimately, the effectiveness of the initiative will determine the level of security in the Red Sea, and its success will be closely watched by countries with vested interests in the region.