US Allies Reluctant to Join Anti-Houthi Red Sea Naval Coalition

Some countries the US said were part of the coalition issued statements distancing themselves from it

While the US is trying to put on a united front to prevent Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, many US allies are reluctant to participate in the task force that’s been formed, formally known as Operation Prosperity Guardian, Reuters reported on Thursday.

The Pentagon claims 20 countries are participating in the operation, but the US has only announced 12. “We’ll allow other countries, defer to them to talk about their participation,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters last week.

Even some of the countries the US said were members of the coalition have issued statements distancing themselves from it. After the US announced the launch of Operation Prosperity Guardian and said Spain was a participant, Madrid denied its involvement. The Spanish Defense Ministry said it “will not participate unilaterally in the Red Sea operation.”

Italy, which was also included in the US announcement, said it would send a frigate to protect Italian shipping interests but made clear the deployment was not part of the US-led operation.

Notably absent from the coalition is Saudi Arabia, one of the US’s main partners in the region. The US has backed Riyadh in a war against the Houthis since 2015, but Saudi Arabia is now seeking peace and fears its involvement could provoke Houthi attacks on its oil infrastructure. Bahrain is the only Arab country that the US said was part of the operation.

The Houthis started the attacks against Israel-linked shipping due to the Israeli onslaught in Gaza and said they won’t stop until the siege ends. Countries are likely reluctant to participate in the US-led coalition because they don’t want to appear to be supporting the Israeli massacre, which has killed over 21,000 Palestinians.

On Thursday, the US announced new sanctions targeting a financial network allegedly tied to the Houthis over the attacks in the Red Sea. There’s no sign the Houthis will back down in the face of US sanctions or other actions.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.