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Spain has right to say no to U.S. on Red Sea coalition

First Voice

An Israeli Navy missile boat is seen in the area of the Red Sea, November 1, 2023. /Xinhua
An Israeli Navy missile boat is seen in the area of the Red Sea, November 1, 2023. /Xinhua

An Israeli Navy missile boat is seen in the area of the Red Sea, November 1, 2023. /Xinhua

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Despite Madrid's rejection, the U.S. has further pressed Spain to take part in a naval coalition at the Red Sea. Washington gave us "a kind of ultimatum" to "correct" the decision on the patrol, Spanish media El Confidencial reported.

In December 2023, the Spanish government made it clear that it would not join Washington-led Operation Prosperity Guardian against Houthi militants at the Red Sea. Apparently, the decision has annoyed Washington.

In disregard of Spain's own will, Washington has intensified its diplomatic efforts on this "insubordinate" ally. "Spain is a vital NATO ally and shares a long-standing and strategic relationship with the United States," Chairman of U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff CQ Brown pressured the Spanish government to "rectify" its refusal in a telephone conversation with Chief of the Spanish General Staff Teodoro López Calderón.

In a separate telephone call with the Spanish ambassador to the U.S. Santiago Cabanas, U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro urged Madrid to take part in the naval coalition "in much more direct language," according to Spanish media.

"No country tells Spain what to do," said Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles, according to local reports. As an independent nation, Spain has the right to make the decision based on its own national interests. It does not need to ask Washington for "permission" or "understanding." 

It is worth noting that the attacks at the Red Sea started after the outbreak of the Israel-Palestine conflicts in Gaza. The Houthi group, according to Xinhua reports, confirmed they will continue to prevent Israeli ships or those heading to Israel from navigating in the Red Sea and Arab Sea until food and medicine aid are allowed to enter the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

A cargo ship enters the Mersin port in Mersin, Türkiye, January 5, 2024. /Xinhua
A cargo ship enters the Mersin port in Mersin, Türkiye, January 5, 2024. /Xinhua

A cargo ship enters the Mersin port in Mersin, Türkiye, January 5, 2024. /Xinhua

Against this backdrop, Washington-led naval operations against Houthi militants would further sophisticate the conflicts in the Middle East and could tremendously raise the risk of making the Red Sea a new frontline. Apart from Spain, a number of other European countries have been hesitant to take part in U.S.-led patrols in the region. After all, no regional country wants to escalate tensions or see any spillover of the Gaza conflicts.

While the Spanish government has not publicly explained its reasoning for refusing to join the patrol, it has the final say over its domestic affairs, with which Washington has no right to interfere.

Pressing the Spanish government to "rectify" the decision, the U.S. has once again presented its textbook skills in coercive diplomacy. In Washington's dictionary, "ally" means "obedience." By making phone calls to the Spanish side, the U.S. is acting like a "master" manipulating every possible means to make its disobedient allies answer its demands.

Under the guise of "freedom of navigation" at the Red Sea, Washington is wooing allies to strike against Houthi militants and thus support the Israel side. How to make the best use of the Gaza conflicts for U.S. hegemony and maximized selfish interests is what Washington cares about. Labeling Madrid as a "vital NATO ally," the U.S. is forcing the Spanish government to dance to its tune. Forming so-called alliances and coalitions, Washington is instead intensifying antagonism in the international community for its selfish pursuit of hegemony.

Countries across the world have gradually realized the perils of Washington's dirty calculations behind "alliance." This explains Washington's dwindling appeals among allies. In the face of coercion and wanton intervention, smaller nations have the right to say no to the United States.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

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