Spain will not intervene in Red Sea – defence minister

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain will not intervene militarily in the Red Sea region out of “a commitment to peace” and any country doing so will have to answer for its actions, Defence Minister Margarita Robles said on Friday.

Robles was speaking following U.S. and British strikes on Yemen overnight in response to attacks by Houthi militants against shipping lanes in the Red Sea.

“Every country has to give explanations for its actions. Spain will always be committed to peace and dialogue,” she told reporters.

At the same, she said Spain did not judge the actions of other countries.

Robles reiterated Madrid’s decision not to take part in a U.S.-led naval operation to protect shipping in the Red Sea, saying it was already committed to other missions such as the European Union’s anti-piracy Operation Atalanta in the Indian Ocean, which she described as “very demanding”.

“The EU could decide…in a few days’ time that there should be a (naval) mission. We do not yet know the scope if that mission is approved, but in the meantime Spain’s position out of a sense of responsibility and commitment to peace is not to intervene in the Red Sea.”

Her comments suggested there could be further rifts among EU members over what course of action to take over the conflicts roiling the Middle East since the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza broke out in October.

The Houthi movement, which controls most of Yemen, has said its actions in the Red Sea are in support of Hamas.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Emma Pinedo; Writing by David Latona; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Angus MacSwan)