The European Union needs to do more in Yemen to pressure the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel group to stop attacking merchant ships traveling in the Red Sea, according to Yemen’s foreign minister.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak said Thursday that the 27-nation EU needs to increase pressure on the Houthis and said physical attacks on their forces or their facilities “won’t do enough.”

“The EU has the wrong approach,” Awad bin Mubarak told reporters ahead of a meeting with EU officials. “Just striking the Houthis won’t do enough. We need mid and long-term solutions.”

He added: “They need to exercise more pressure on the Houthis, such as by designating them as a terrorist group. Their argument is that if they adopt this, then it will worsen the humanitarian situation. But this approach didn’t work. The Houthis are still blackmailing the international community and the humanitarian situation has not improved.”

US TAKES ‘SELF-DEFENSE’ STRIKE AGAINST HOUTHI PROJECTILES POISED TO LAUNCH AT COMMERCIAL SHIP IN RED SEA

Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak

Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak said the EU needs to increase its pressure to stop attacks in the Red Sea. (Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The EU intends to launch its own Red Sea naval mission by mid-February to defend ships traveling through the vital and robust trade route.

Yemen’s foreign minister also called for more EU support for building Yemeni institutions such as the coast guard and for additional humanitarian aid.

US STRIKES HOUTHI ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILE INSIDE YEMEN, OFFICIAL SAYS

“Houthis will never stop… They have the ideology that as a group they have a divine right (to rule) in Yemen,” Awad bin Mubarak said, noting Europe and the U.S. lack a “clear path” to ending the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, which has emboldened “all the extremists groups in our region.”

Houthi rebels

Houthi militants have launched dozens of attacks since the Israel-Hamas war started on Oct. 7, 2023, claiming their demonstrations are in solidarity with the Palestinians. (Osamah Yahya/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Houthi militants have launched dozens of attacks, which include the use of drones and missiles, at various vessels traveling through Egypt’s Suez Canal since November. The victims of such attacks include commercial vessels and U.S. military warships.

EU flags

Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak said the 27 countries in the EU need to increase pressure on the Houthis in Yemen to stop the attacks. (John Thys/AFP via Getty Images)

The attacks are in solidarity with the Palestinians being killed in Gaza, they have said.

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The 27 countries in the EU are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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