Bar-Ilan’s BESA Center regularly publishes Perspectives Papers, which provide analysis from research associates and other outside experts on the most important issues pertaining to Israel and the Middle East.

In this Perspective Paper, Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos analyzes the evolving maritime dimension of the Israel-Hamas conflict and the broader regional response in the Red Sea, notably through EU’s Operation ASPIDES. This operation is primarily defensive, aimed at intercepting Houthi attacks on commercial shipping, contrasting with more aggressive U.S. and UK-led missions. ASPIDES involves four European frigates and additional aerial assets, coordinated from Greece, focusing on safeguarding maritime traffic without engaging in offensive actions against Houthi forces.

This approach by the EU reflects a cautious stance towards broader Middle Eastern conflicts, possibly influencing EU-Israeli relations given Israel’s more immediate security concerns with Iran and its proxies. The article discusses the various national motivations within the EU, such as the Netherlands’ historical commitment to maritime security and Denmark’s protection of its commercial interests with Maersk. The differing strategies among EU member states and their American allies reveal underlying tensions and varying perceptions of threat in the region.

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