Italy will not be intimidated by a Houthi threat to target Rome if it takes part in attacks on the Yemeni-based Iran-backed rebels who are assaulting shipping in the Red Sea, Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said Monday.
Tajani, who is also deputy premier, was responding to Sunday’s interview with la Repubblica daily in which top Houthi Mohamed Ali al-Houthi said Italy would become a target for the rebels if it participated in attacks on the group.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Med Dialogues event in Rome, Tajani made it clear that Italy would not attack anyone as its part in the new EU Aspides mission in the Red Sea was purely defensive, to protect shipping in the vital sea artery.
“We are not intimidated by the threats of the Houthis,” said Tajani.” We defend merchant traffic, we do not attack anyone but we do not want to be attacked by anyone.
“There must be free maritime traffic: if there are attacks we will respond by defending Italian merchant ships.
“This must be very clear.
“We are not intimidated by any statement by the Houthis, who are a terrorist organisation”.
Italy is taking a lead role in the Greece-led Aspides mission with both ships and planes.