“Everyone should try to avoid the situation becoming explosive,” Borrell said before chairing an informal meeting of EU member states’ foreign ministers in Brussels, adding that the Middle East “is a powder keg that can explode “.
The US military launched airstrikes on Friday against 85 targets linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and pro-Iranian groups in Iraq and Syria, with President Joe Biden warning that Washington would “continue” to retaliate for late last week’s drone strike , as a result of which three American soldiers were killed at the military base “Tower 22” (“Tower 22”) in Jordan.
While the US bombings are believed to have killed more than 40 people, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said in a statement that it was “another adventurous and strategic mistake by the United States, which will only result in increased tension and instability in the region”.
Russia has requested an emergency meeting of the Security Council of the United Nations (UN), according to AFP.
Asked about the situation, Borrell said: “We are calling on all parties to try to avoid an escalation.”
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also expressed deep concern as he pointed to the war between Israel and Hamas, saying that around 1 million Palestinians “have been progressively displaced towards the Egyptian border”.
“They (the Israelis, no) have claimed that they are safe zones, but in fact what we see is that the shelling that affects the civilian population continues and creates a very serious situation,” Borrell said, stressing that this war in the Gaza Strip, launched by Israel against Hamas, created “a domino effect”.
“As long as the war in Gaza continues, it is very difficult to believe that the situation in the Red Sea will improve, because one thing is connected to the other,” added the head of European diplomacy.
After Iran-backed Houthi rebel forces began attacking ships in the Red Sea in what they described as “acts of solidarity” with the Palestinians, a series of airstrikes were carried out on Houthi targets located in Yemen as part of the operation American-British “Prosperity Guardian” ongoing.
The EU aims to launch a naval mission in the region later this month to help protect international shipping from attack, but is seeking to differentiate itself from the US-UK operation, with Borrell reiterating that the mission will be “defensive” only.
“That’s why we decided on this naval mission (in the Red Sea, no) and we appeal to everyone to avoid an escalation”, said the top EU diplomat.
The EU mission has yet to receive final approval pending a meeting of foreign ministers scheduled for February 19, and Borrell said he hoped to have it operational by the end of the month.
Photo: Profimedia Images
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