Europe is divided over the US-UK bombing of Yemen, one of the world's poorest countries, as Italy, Spain, and France have refused to take part in the operation...
Washington and London carried out late-night strikes on Yemen Thursday evening, which targeted several areas of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.
The US and UK are seeking to target Yemen's Ansarallah-led forces for their efforts to target Israeli-linked ships in the Red Sea in response to Israel's brutal bombing campaign in Gaza, which many view as genocide.
The US-UK strikes were supported by Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, and Bahrain, who all signed a joint statement backing the bombing.
Spanish Minister of Defense Margarita Robles (Photo credit: Jorge Zapata/Efe)
However, Europe's major powers, France, Italy, and Spain, refused to take part in the strikes and declined to sign the statement in support of them.
The Italian government, led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, said it was not asked to participate in the US-UK attacks on Yemen. It stated further that even if a request had been made, it could not have participated without a debate and vote in parliament to authorize military action.
The Italian deputy prime minister said Italy could not have participated at such short notice "because the constitution does not allow us to commit acts of war without a debate in parliament."
However, a government source told Reuters that Rome had been asked to participate but refused because it preferred a "calming policy."
The French government, led by Emmanuel Macron, also ruled out joint action with the US and UK, unlike in Libya in 2011 and against ISIS in Syria in 2015.
French Rear Admiral Emmanuel Slaars said on Thursday that although the French Navy is active in protecting French ships in the Red Sea, Paris's current mandate did not include striking Ansarallah directly.
The Telegraph reported that an anonymous French official said Paris feared that by joining the US-led assault on Yemen's Ansarallah-led forces, it would lose any leverage it had in mediating between Hezbollah and Israel.
France says it is focusing its diplomatic efforts on avoiding an escalation in Lebanon, where Hezbollah has been fighting Israel on the border since 7 October, also in support of Gaza.
In Spain, Minister of Defense Margarita Robles reiterated Friday that Spain will not participate in any military operation against Yemen. She said this included a rejection of participating in a European Union operation in the Red Sea, which is expected to be announced in the coming days.
"Spain is a country firmly committed to peace in the world, precisely for that reason we have 17 missions and more than 3,000 people in many places," Robles acknowledged. "From the beginning we have said that in the Red Sea we understand that Spain is not going to participate at this time."
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