Greece Takes the Helm in EU Naval Mission in the Red Sea 

Greek Defense Minister Nikos Dendias visits the Greek frigate Hydra, set to depart in the coming days, after Greek government approved the country's participation in the EU naval mission in the Red Sea, at Salamina naval base, Greece, February 26, 2024. (Defense Ministry/Handout via Reuters)
Greek Defense Minister Nikos Dendias visits the Greek frigate Hydra, set to depart in the coming days, after Greek government approved the country's participation in the EU naval mission in the Red Sea, at Salamina naval base, Greece, February 26, 2024. (Defense Ministry/Handout via Reuters)
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Greece Takes the Helm in EU Naval Mission in the Red Sea 

Greek Defense Minister Nikos Dendias visits the Greek frigate Hydra, set to depart in the coming days, after Greek government approved the country's participation in the EU naval mission in the Red Sea, at Salamina naval base, Greece, February 26, 2024. (Defense Ministry/Handout via Reuters)
Greek Defense Minister Nikos Dendias visits the Greek frigate Hydra, set to depart in the coming days, after Greek government approved the country's participation in the EU naval mission in the Red Sea, at Salamina naval base, Greece, February 26, 2024. (Defense Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

Greece Monday formally agreed to participate in and lead a European Union maritime security operation in the Red Sea to protect commercial shipping from attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen.

A security committee headed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ordered the participation of a Greek frigate in the Aspides operation – named from the Greek word for “shield” – that was launched last week.

The mission will be run from a military base in Larissa, in central Greece, under the command of Greek navy Cdre. Vasilios Griparis.

Greece, a major commercial shipping power, has been directly affected by the Houthi attacks. The port of Piraeus, near Athens, reported a 12.7% drop in activity at its container terminal in January, on an annual basis.

“We all understand that participation in this operation involves risks, significant risks,” Defense Minister Nikos Dendias said Monday while on a visit to the navy frigate Hydra at a naval base near Athens.

The frigate departed on the mission late Monday.

“Greece, as a maritime power with a leading role in global shipping, attaches great importance to the need to safeguard the freedom of navigation, as well as the life of Greek seafarers,” Dendias said.

Germany, Italy and France will also provide warships for the mission, joining the Hydra, while Italy will assume tactical command, according to Greek officials.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius visited the German Navy frigate Hessen, that is taking part in Aspides, while on a trip to the Greek island of Crete last week. The vessel has since sailed southward to the Red Sea, German authorities said.

Officials in Athens have described the Aspides mission as defensive, adding that Greece would not take part in US-led attacks against Houthi military targets in Yemen.

The Houthis say their attacks on commercial ships with drones and missiles are a response to Israel’s offensive in Gaza against Hamas which began in October.

At a parliamentary committee hearing last week, Dendias said keeping the lines of maritime trade open was an “existential necessity for Greece.”

“We do not take a position on the Houthi issue,” Dendias told lawmakers at the hearing. “But we do challenge the right of anyone to fire at our ships, at European ships, and at ships that sail the region and come to our ports.”



California Academic Workers Strike in Support of Pro-Palestinian Protests

Students protesting at an encampment supporting Palestinians on the California University campus (EPA)
Students protesting at an encampment supporting Palestinians on the California University campus (EPA)
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California Academic Workers Strike in Support of Pro-Palestinian Protests

Students protesting at an encampment supporting Palestinians on the California University campus (EPA)
Students protesting at an encampment supporting Palestinians on the California University campus (EPA)

Discord from last month's mob attack on pro-Palestinian student activists encamped at the University of California, Los Angeles, flared again on Tuesday as academic workers staged a strike on campus protesting UCLA's response to the violence, Reuters said.
Unionized academic researchers, graduate teaching assistants and post-doctoral scholars at UCLA walked off the job over what they regard as unfair labor practices in the university's handling of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in recent weeks, organizers said.
They were joined by fellow academic workers at two other University of California campuses - UC Davis near Sacramento, and UC Santa Cruz, where the protest strike began on May 20.
The strikers are demanding amnesty for grad students and other academic workers who were arrested or face discipline for their involvement in the protests, which union leaders say were peaceful except when counter-demonstrators and other instigators were allowed to provoke unrest.
The state Public Employee Relations Board ordered the University of California and the strikers to take part in mediated talks. A representative for the strikers said the parties met once over the weekend.
The strike was organized by the United Auto Workers union Local 4811, which represents some 48,000 non-tenured academic employees total across 10 University of California campuses and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The UAW local includes about 6,400 academic workers at UCLA, 5,700 at Davis and about 2,000 at Santa Cruz. A union representative said thousands were withholding their work as of Monday. Several hundred attended a march and midday rally on the UCLA campus on Tuesday.
The expanding work stoppage marks the first union-backed protest in solidarity with the recent wave of student-led demonstrations on dozens of US campuses against Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Union leaders said a major impetus for the strike was the arrest of 210 people, including campus-employed grad students, at the scene of a Palestinian solidarity protest camp torn down by police at UCLA on May 2.
About 24 hours earlier, on the night of April 30-May 1, masked assailants armed with sticks and clubs attacked the encampment and its occupants, sparking a bloody clash that went on for at least three hours before police moved in.
The university has since reassigned the chief of the campus police department and opened an investigation into law enforcement's reaction to the violence.
Last week, three weeks after the melee, campus police announced their first, and so far only, arrest of someone accused of taking part in the attack - a man they say was seen in video footage beating victims with a wooden pole.
Separately on Tuesday in Detroit, Wayne State University suspended in-person classes and directed staff to work remotely to avoid any disruptions that might be posed by a pro-Palestinian encampment there.
US Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat of Palestinian descent, joined those protests on Monday and Tuesday.