Egypt travel advice as UK Foreign Office issues urgent warnings for 18 countries

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In the wake of a series of coordinated military strikes by the US and British militaries against Iranian-backed Houthi targets in Yemen, the UK Foreign Office has issued urgent travel warnings for 18 countries.

The countries listed include Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Bahrain, and Qatar.

The new advice reads: “Military activity is currently underway in response to attempts by Houthi militants to prevent movement of international shipping in the Red Sea. While the area of activity is limited to the Red Sea and Yemen, there is a possibility that Travel Advice for nearby countries could change at short notice. You should continue to monitor Travel Advice and follow any relevant instructions from local authorities.”

The FCDO has also warned there ‘high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets’. Adding: “You should remain vigilant at all times.”

The military action, which took place on Thursday, saw over 60 targets hit across 16 sites in Yemen. The strikes, employing Tomahawk missiles, fighter jets, and other assets, targeted key installations such as command-and-control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities, and air defence radar systems.

President Joe Biden stated that the strikes were a response to the Houthi’s continuous attacks on international maritime vessels in the Red Sea, including the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles.

He emphasised that the military action was taken only after exhausting diplomatic options and careful consideration.

The attacks were the first US military response to the persistent campaign of drone and missile attacks on commercial ships that began with the Israel-Hamas war. The strikes came a week after a final warning was issued to the Houthis by the White House and its partner nations to cease their attacks or face potential military intervention.

The warning did lead to a temporary halt in attacks, but on Tuesday, the Houthi rebels launched their largest-ever barrage of drones and missiles in the Red Sea. In response, US and British forces shot down numerous drones and missiles. On Thursday, the Houthis fired an anti-ship ballistic missile into the Gulf of Aden, narrowly missing a commercial ship.

US Air Force’s Mideast command confirmed the strikes, stating they were in direct response to the Houthi attacks threatening US personnel, civilian mariners, and international commerce. The UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, announced that the Royal Air Force had conducted targeted strikes against Houthi military facilities as part of limited, necessary, and proportionate actions in self-defence.

Several allied nations, including Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Korea, joined the US and the UK in a joint statement, expressing their commitment to de-escalating tensions and restoring stability in the Red Sea. However, they also stressed their readiness to defend lives and protect commerce in the critical waterway.

In response to the strikes, Russia has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, scheduled to take place on Friday afternoon, with France, the current council president, confirming the session.

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