EU Mission Combating Somali Pirates Unlikely to Work Well – UPDATE, Expert’s Opinion Added

Politics Materials 5 November 2008 15:10 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, 4 November / Trend corr. E.Ostapenko/ Success of the EU Navy's operation against the Somali pirates is dependent on excellent coordination between the different actors.

"On its own the EU mission is unlikely to have a major impact on piracy around Somalia," Roger Middleton, Consultant Researcher for the Africa Programme of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, said to Trend via e-mail.

The Defence Ministers of France and Spain have recently signed an agreement on combating the Somali pirates, which means the launch of the EU Navy's operation in the Aden Gulf.

That is the first operation of this type held by the EU forces, but not the first one against piracy in this area of the Indian Ocean. The coalition forces of the Navy battleships (150th coalition group), NATO fleet, the Neustrashimy (Fearless) guard-ship of the Russian Baltic Fleet operate in the area.

Despite the actions of the international forces, the pirates still occupy ships.

The latest victim of the Somali pirates was the Ukrainian Faina ship hosting 20 crew members (17 Ukrainian), as well as a great number of ammunition including T-72 tanks. It was attacked on 25 September.

Experts believe the success of the EU mission is dependent on excellent coordination between the different actors in order to try and cover the largest possible amount of sea.

"But in conjunction with NATO, CTF 150, Russia, India, Malaysia and perhaps South Africa it has the potential to reduce the number of successful piracy attacks," said Middleton, who has recently issued a report on the piracy in Somali for the London-based Chatham House research centre.

"Piracy is a threat to the security of all nations and requires an international solution," said Nathan Christensen, spokesman for the US Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain.

"We are committed to continuing operations that deter piracy - and other destabilizing activities in the maritime arena - to create a lawful maritime order," Christensen said to Trend via e-mail.

"Only pursuit, interception, arrest and prosecution of pirates will improve what has become a scandalous situation," ITF Press Officer Sam Dawson said.

"The final solution will have to come from the establishment of a legitimate government ashore and which is able to exercise sufficient policing to deal with the armed gangs in their bases," said Peter Hinchliffe, Marine Director of the International Chamber of Shipping.

According to the International Marine Bureau, only in 2008 a total of 77 ships were attacked in the Aden Gulf, with over 200 crew members and 10 ships still kept by the Somali pirates.

The correspondent can be contacted at [email protected]