12° Nicosia,
21 April, 2024

Cyprus plays key role in EU's operation ASPIDES

Republic of Cyprus takes active role in protecting Red Sea shipping routes


In response to increased threats from the Houthi terrorist group, the European Union has approved the initiation of Operation ASPIDES, aiming to bolster security and freedom for European shipping in the Red Sea. ASPIDES will provide ships with real-time information on potential terrorist activities during transit, offering escort services while ensuring their self-defense capabilities. The operation will cover strategic maritime corridors, including the Bab Al-Madab Strait, Strait of Hormuz, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and the Gulf.

Cypriot involvement in ASPIDES operation

The Republic of Cyprus will play a formal role in Operation ASPIDES, contributing to the protection of navigation in the Red Sea against harassment from Iranian proxies like the Houthi rebels. As part of the operation, Greece will host the operational headquarters in Larissa, coordinating efforts with Brussels. The Republic of Cyprus will support this initiative with two National Guard officers, leveraging its geographical proximity to the Red Sea and serving as a strategic hub for logistics and administration.

Impact on the maritime insurance industry and shipping routes

EUNAFOR ASPIDES has garnered support from the shipping and insurance industry, aiming to restore and secure navigation in the Red Sea. Concerns about attacks on merchant ships in the region have led some shipowners to avoid the area, choosing alternative routes with implications for delivery delays and increased transit costs. Delays and higher prices, particularly in insurance premiums, fuel, and seafarers' wages, are becoming significant challenges, with each round trip through the Cape of Good Hope estimated to cost around USD 1 million.

Response from Cypriot shipping companies

Cypriot shipping companies express satisfaction with the ASPIDES development, emphasizing its defensive mandate to protect merchant ships from potential maritime attacks in the Red Sea. The Cyprus Chamber of Shipping highlights the escalating situation in the region, posing risks to seafarers and Europe's supply chain, emphasizing the necessity of safeguarding key shipping corridors and the international principle of freedom of navigation.

UN Security Council's strategic planning

The UN Security Council, on January 29, 2024, adopted a Crisis Management Plan, anticipating possible European military support to ensure freedom of navigation amid the Red Sea crisis. The Council condemned Houthi attacks on merchant ships, asserting the right of member states to protect their ships under international law. The EU's response, influenced by pressure from European shipowners, aligns with ongoing monitoring of the situation by the international maritime organization.

[This article was translated and summarized from its original.  The original article was written by Andreas Karamitas and Yiannos Ioannou]

Cyprus  |  Europe  |  shipping  |  Houthi

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