Ships passing through the Suez Canal – the quickest sea route between Asia and Europe - to or from the Indian Ocean have to come via the strait of Bab al-Mandab and the Red Sea. It is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and is key to the smooth running of global supply chains. Houthi rebels in Yemen know this, which is why we have seen a number of attacks on foreign-owned commercial vessels transporting goods since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October. The Houthi group, which is backed by Iran, has also been using drones and rockets against UK and US naval ships. Any government that tolerated such hostile action towards its naval forces would effectively be giving a green light to the Houthis to launch further assaults – and this is something we cannot allow to happen. After giving warning, the UK Government was right to join with other countries across the world to respond to these attacks by destroying some of the infrastructure used to carry them out. Ordering members of the armed forces to launch air strikes is not a decision that is ever made lightly. But the UK Government is taking military action to prevent instability in the Middle East from spreading and getting worse.
It was an honour to join veterans at the Abergavenny Combined Armed Forces Veterans Breakfast Club on Saturday. The group ethos is mutual support under the guidance of Peter Farthing, who is also chair of Abergavenny Royal British Legion. There were veterans from all different branches present and it was great to see the networks in place to help one another after service life. I was qualified to be there in my capacity as an ex-member of 104 Air Defence Regiment at Raglan Barracks Newport – and what a pleasant surprise to chat to one of the former bombardier’s who used to keep me on my toes! Well done to Peter and everyone else who organises this excellent club, which meets on the second Saturday of each month for breakfast at the Brewers Fayre in Llanfoist. All service veterans are invited to turn up at 9:30am and you will be made very welcome.
A further update from Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters on the long-awaited road safety study for the A40 at Raglan. I am told the report should be made available next month to the Welsh Government for review and finalising, after which we will discover what proposals are being put forward. I trust there will be good news to come.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon and Abergavenny Chronicle on 17 January 2024*