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The lack of maritime security in the Horn of Africa region: scope and effect.


The maritime trade routes around the Horn of Africa as well as the region's maritime resources, which could contribute towards sustained development, ate threatened by a lack of maritime security. Somalia has been without an effective central government since 1991 and its coast and harbours ate virtually unpoliced. As a result piracy, together with a multitude of other illegal activities, abounds. Due to Somalia's strategic location this lack of maritime security threatens international maritime trade and has a noticeable impact on the security, stability, economic development and quality of life in the region. The situation in Somalia has clearly shown that a lack of law and order ashore will inevitably spill over into the maritime domain, while the lack of maritime security will conversely generate lawlessness ashore.

Maritime security can be enhanced through proper maritime domain awareness and maritime policing, which include everything from harbour security to control over the surrounding sea and punitive actions against transgressors. Warships and multi-national task forces ate active in the region's busy shipping lanes, but they have not established proper control at sea. Security, including maritime security, is very important to the region, but in order to create stability ashore and at sea, enhanced international and regional co-operation and an integrated approach to maritime security are necessary.


Africa is dependent on the sea. Much of its international trade moves through its ports, while its maritime resources, that could sustain development, ate under-utilised and threatened. Many of Africa's natural resources are found along or near the coast. In addition, the commercial interest of countries and companies operating in the littoral areas must be protected and safe passage for shipping must be secured. As a result maritime security along Africa's coastline is important, specifically at a time when there is also a renewed strategic focus on Africa and, amongst others, a 'scramble' for its resources. Pervasive maritime insecurity is a significant threat to security in Africa, to its development, to the shipping around Africa's coast and to marine resources, specifically in areas such as the Horn of Africa.

The busy maritime trade routes around the Horn of Africa go back thousands of years and link the Indian Ocean to the Suez Canal. It is a choke point and securing free and sale traffic around it is internationally important. Somalia is strategically located on these routes, but it is without an effective central government. Its coasts and harbours ate virtually unpoliced and the humanitarian situation in the country is extremely serious. Though foreign warships patrol the region's busy shipping lanes, the lack of maritime security has an impact on the economic development, regional security and stability of the entire region. In economic and strategic terms the region is therefore paying a severe penalty as a result of insufficient maritime security.

This article focuses on the scope and effect of the lack of maritime security in the Horn of Africa region. Following comments on the security situation of the region, maritime security problems will be discussed, whereafter actual and possible responses are considered.


For more than three decades peace and stability have evaded the Horn of Africa as countries in the region have been ravaged by conflict. Ethiopia experienced a civil war and has been engaged in conflicts with Eritrea and Somalia. Sudan has been torn apart by a civil war and Somalia has been ravaged by clan warfare. During the Cold War the major powers pursued their national interests in the region and added to the turbulence. However, these conflicts have become interrelated, with factions in the various countries obtaining and giving support across national borders.

Djibouti, bordering Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea, is strategically located on the busy shipping lane through the Bab al Mandeb Strait (linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden) and is a transhipment location for imports and exports of the east African highlands. Djibouti has close ties with France and also provided support facilities to the United States of America (US) during Operation Enduring Freedom as the Combined Joint Task Force--Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) operated from Djibouti.

Since Somalia has been in disorder for the best part of two decades, it is the situation in this country that impacts most severely on maritime security in the region. The regime of President Siad Barre was notoriously repressive and from 1987 onwards the country was ravaged by internal conflict. Central authority soon disintegrated and by 1990 most of the country had degenerated into a patchwork of contending fiefdoms controlled by clan chiefs. (1) In January 1991 Barre fled Somalia after his army was driven out of Mogadishu by the Militia of General Muhammed Farah 'Aideed' and the country degenerated into a state of chaos and civil war. (2) With utter civil lawlessness, banditry, mass starvation and no organised government, warlords fought each other for the spoils. Policing along Somalia's coast and harbours disappeared, a multitude of illegal activities flourished, and the humanitarian situation became extremely serious with millions of Somalis depending on humanitarian aid (of which 80 per cent is delivered by sea).

International intervention (UNOSOM I and UNITAF) essentially failed in the early 1990s. (3) In accordance with United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 814, UNOSOM II took over with a mandate to establish a new government, police force and justice system, and to rebuild the economy. It was a multinational force consisting of 20 000 peacekeepers, 8 000 logistical staff and 3 000 civilians from 23 nations. As the mandate provided for peace enforcement, the militias had to be disarmed. However, Aideed was seen to be a major obstacle. Efforts to arrest or kill Aideed failed and after one of these operations ended in disaster (the infamous "Black Hawk Down" incident, October 1993) the US withdrew from Somalia in March 1994. (4) Other governments soon lost interest and UN forces departed, leaving the warring factions to their own designs. Various subsequent mediation efforts failed as the warring factions received external support (from, amongst others, Ethiopia, Eritrea and the Saudi Peninsula).

In June 2006 the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) seized Mogadishu and much of the south. However, forces loyal to the interim administration, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) created in 2004, seized control from the Islamists (with the backing of Ethiopian troops) at the end of 2006. This caused a new surge in violence and anarchy and since early 2007, when an Islamist insurgency again intensified around Mogadishu, tens of thousands of people have been killed with probably a million left homeless. An African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) was sent to Mogadishu to relieve the Ethiopians, but it is too small and weak and has increasingly come under insurgent attacks following the Ethiopian withdrawal. Currently only parts of Mogadishu are under government control and early 2009 was characterised by multi-sided fighting between government forces, AMISOM and Islamist insurgents. The AU indicated in February 2009 that it would boost its 3 400 strong force once Uganda and Burundi send an extra battalion each, bringing it to 5 100. Although Nigeria, Malawi, Ghana and Burkina Faso have pledged to send troops to Somalia, it is with reluctance as peacekeepers have been targeted, (5) On the ground, AMISOM is hampered by a lack of equipment, faces logistic and financial constraints, lacks accommodation for its new troops and is often under attack. By February 2009, 22 AU peacekeepers had been killed in Somalia. Islamic militias, such as al Shabaab (which claims links with al-Qaeda), do not want AMISOM in Somalia and warns that if the troops do not "go home" immediately, they "will meet our hell". (6)

Somali is in many senses not a state anymore. Somaliland (the northern region) claimed autonomy in 1991, arguing that it joined Somalia voluntarily and that it should have the right to leave the Union. Puntland (the central and extreme eastern region), increasingly claims autonomy although not independence. Somaliland is not internationally recognised as an independent state, while the weak transitional government in Mogadishu cannot enforce its authority. (7) After 18 years of violence and anarchy, Somalia is still without strong central government authority. It is one of the failed efforts at post-Cold War conflict resolution and members of the international community have become little more than bystanders.

Somalia does not have a strong national armed force or a police force that can enforce government authority, yet many militia groups exist and some factions hire protection. (8) The Somali Navy was initially established and equipped with four Soviet fast attack craft and smaller vessels, with coastal security as its purpose. However, most of this equipment became unserviceable after the departure of Soviet military personnel in 1977 and since 1991 the Somali Navy no longer exists. (9)

Other countries in the region, notably Yemen, Kenya and Djibouti, have small, functioning naval establishments. Despite lacking equipment and funds, the Yemeni Coastguard is active and conducts regular patrols. However, it is criticised for not showing the proper respect to refugees from East Africa, and for atrocities ostensibly committed in this regard. (10)

In maritime security terms, the region also lacks capabilities such as intelligence, early warning, maritime air surveillance and reconnaissance. No credible indigenous maritime forces with sufficient mobility, flexibility and the firepower necessary for sustainable operations and deterrence exist. Coastguards and civilian maritime agencies are also wanting, while no single agency or co-ordinating body exists that co-operates on maritime security issues in the region.


Mainly as a consequence of the disintegration of central government authority in Somalia, the lack of maritime security in the Horn of Africa has become a grave problem. This is one of the few cases in Africa where security problems on land have spilled over and severely affected maritime security. Due to the geographic location of Somalia and the valuable cargoes traversing the seas around the Horn, the lack of maritime security has become an international concern.

The lack of maritime security in the region impacts on all aspects that relate to the use of the sea and also negatively affects the already dire situation ashore. The absence of law enforcement and good order at sea threatens maritime communications, stimulates piracy, damages the marine environment, erodes maritime sovereignty and increases the costs in humanitarian and economic terms. (11)

3.1 Lawlessness at sea

Piracy is a major concern. Contemporary piracy is a sophisticated and brutal enterprise that includes petty thieving with machetes and hand guns, the well organised activities of criminal organisations and the hijacking of merchant vessels for ransom. As with other criminal undertakings, it threatens finance and commerce, but in the Horn of Africa region it goes beyond that--it also threatens peace and regional stability as well as international trade.

Who are the pirates? They are almost always from Somalia. Why? Government authority and laws are not enforced, while very little action is taken against piracy. The pirates are after money, cargoes and ransom from the ship owners (either for themselves or to finance the array of clan-based militias ashore). Due to the extensive Somali coastline, combating piracy is problematic. It is difficult to determine who the pirates are, as groups professing to fight piracy are actually engaged in it. Some organise themselves along military lines, with names like 'National Volunteer Coast Guard' or 'Somali Marines' and award naval rank designations to their leaders. (12) One of the prominent pirate groups is the 'Somali Marines', based at Ceel Huur (250 miles north of Mogadishu). They have between 75 and 100 members and their arms include AK-47s, 12.7mm and 14.5mm heavy machine guns and rocket launchers. (13)

Hijacking ships for ransom is the most common form of piracy in and around the Horn of Africa. The modus operandi of the pirates is to lure ships close to the shore into an ambush with false distress calls or to attack them with small, fast vessels. Assaults further from the coast take place from open boats, often supported by a 'mother ship'. Ships are induced to reduce speed by firing at them or boarded while under way. After boarding, the crew will be rounded up and may even be taken ashore until a ransom is obtained. Smaller ships are anchored along the coast, under the protection of a local militia. Besides hijackings, more 'traditional' pirate attacks and cargo theft have also taken place. Many attacks have taken place as ships sail through the congested Bab el Mandeb Strait, or wait to anchor along the Djibouti coast. Container ships, carrying most of the trade in manufactured goods, are high out of the water and sail faster, making them more difficult prey, while tankers and dry bulk vessels (carrying oil, chemicals, coal, wheat and other commodities) are slower, lie deeper in the water and are easier targets. However, all types of ships have been attacked, including ships transporting vehicles and humanitarian food aid and even cruise ships. (14)

Maritime observers, who meticulously record incidents of piracy, indicate an alarming increase around the Horn of Africa since the late 1990s. From January 1994 to December 2007, 151 'serious attacks' took place in Somali waters, resulting in hijackings, robbery and crew members being killed or injured. Many incidents, however, went unreported. By 2005 Somalia was the piracy hotspot with 35 recorded attacks and 15 hijackings, while by April 2006, 45 attempted and 19 successful hijackings had taken place since the beginning of 2005. (15) Piracy around Somalia decreased during the latter half of 2006 as the UIC seized Mogadishu, declared piracy a crime and captured pirate centres and ports in order to re-establish regular trade. (16) The situation worsened again after Ethiopian and Somali troops ousted the UIC at the end of 2006.

During the first nine months of 2007 pirate attacks off Somalia represented 18 per cent of the international total and more than double the figure for the same period in 2006, while hijackings rose to a high of 31 in 2007. According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) it reached a peak in 2008--111 reported pirate attacks (122 incidents according to the USN) resulting in 42 successful hijackings (0,5 per cent of the total traffic was attacked, while 38 per cent of the reported attacks were successful). Somali waters accounted for nearly 40 per cent of the 293 pirate attacks reported in 2008. (17) This increase in piracy is ascribed to the lack of coastal and port surveillance, the lack of order and law enforcement, the poverty and desperation of the Somali people (18) and, no doubt, to criminality and greed.

During 2008 pirates pocketed many millions in ransom money alone. Estimates range from a conservative US$30 million to as high as US$150 million according to Kenya's Foreign Minister. (19) Piracy therefore represents the only booming industry in Somalia and it certainly is very lucrative in a country whose economy has been ravaged by internecine conflict. According to some experts, the emergence of a wealthy pirate class in a politically and economically weak Somalia might cause Puntland, where much of the piracy activities are based, to become a 'pirate state'. (20) as a 39-year-old Somali pirate explained to a Kenyan journalist, "my life has changed dramatically because I've received more money than I ever thought I would see, in one incident, $250,000 ... it is incalculable how much money I have made ... I buy cars, weapons, and boats ... (I am) having a good time". (21)

During late 2007 and early 2009 the presence of international naval vessels increased and they achieved a number of successes against pirates. Yet hijackings continued and 2008 saw a number of high profile piracy incidents that received much attention in the international media. These included the hijacking of the Danish-owned tug Svitzer Korsakov, the French luxury passenger yacht Le Ponant, the Spanish trawler Playa de Bakio, the Ukrainian Faina and the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star. Ransom was paid in all cases, but the French later managed to capture six of the pirates involved in the Le Ponant hijacking. (22)

The capture of the Faina (on 25 September 2008) caused a stir as the ship, destined for Mombassa, had 33 T72 battle tanks, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, anti-aircraft guns and ammunition on board. (23) The armaments were ostensibly for Kenya, but Kenyan armaments procurement policy does not provide for such ad hoc acquisitions and Kenya also uses North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) type equipment. Many sources suggested that the cargo was destined for southern Sudan, as insiders from the 'Rift Valley Railways' indicated that two previous consignments of tanks had been delivered by train. The Kenyan military repeatedly stated that the tanks belonged to them and that Kenyan military personnel would undergo training on the tanks in the Ukraine. The pirates initially demanded a US$20 million ransom, but settled for US$3 million after five months. With crowds cheering, Faina eventually docked at Mombassa on 13 February 2009, a week after being released. (24) Faina's cargo was declared the property of Kenya's Department of Defence (DoD), went through customs, was offloaded, and was moved to Nairobi's Kahawa Barracks within a week. (25)

In an incident that alarmed the international shipping industry, it became clear that pirates were capable of extending their operations further away from their bases than initially anticipated. A Saudi supertanker, the Sirius Star, was captured 450 nautical miles southeast of Kenya on 15 November 2008. It was thought that a captured Nigerian tug acted as the pirate 'mother-ship', while the fully-loaded ship, low in the water, was probably easy to board. (26) The Sirius Star was the biggest vessel to be hijacked and was carrying two million barrels of oil (a quarter of Saudi Arabia's daily output) worth US$100 million. The initial ransom demand was US$25 million and she was held at anchor off the Somali coast, close to the pirate town Eyl. A ransom (generally accepted to be US$3 million) was paid on 9 January and was dropped by parachute onto the ship. However, six of the pirates, with part of the ransom, drowned when their overloaded boat capsized after leaving the freed tanker. (27)

The ability of the pirates to track and attack the Sirius Star so far off the coast suggests that they probably had electronic intelligence of its whereabouts. Soon afterwards on 7 December 2009, a Dutch-operated container ship outran pirates attacking it with rocket-propelled grenades. The significance of this attack was that it occurred off the coast of Tanzania, 450 miles east of Dar es Salaam. (28) This might indicate a southward expansion of pirate operations, away from constant naval patrols.

As far as asymmetrical war at sea and the possibility of terror are concerned, the Achille Lauro incident (the hijacking of an Italian cruise ship by members of the Palestine Liberation Front in October 1985) indicated that maritime terrorism is a real threat and that states need to consider possible responses. Port security was emphasised after the attack on the USS Cole in Aden (12 October 2000), but after the '9/11' attacks, the focus shifted to air transport. Soon afterwards, on 6 October 2002, the potential danger that an asymmetric attack at sea poses was dramatically illustrated when the French supertanker, Limburg, was rammed amidships by an explosive-laden dinghy in the Gulf of Aden, a few miles off Yemen. The ship burnt fiercely and much of her cargo spilled into the sea. The oil price immediately increased, while Yemen lost millions in port revenues as international shipping decreased. (29) Of significance is the fact that vessels, even merchant vessels, can be used as weapons of war and not even warships are exempted from possible harm. Furthermore, it is obvious that a very effective way to disrupt the global economy is by attacking oil supplies, or supply routes. In this respect, shipping around Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden is particularly vulnerable.

Kenyan security sources have claimed that al-Qaeda might be involved in piracy in the Horn of Africa region, in order to help finance their operations. Many observers do not agree with this notion, and even senior US officials have stated that there are 'no links' indicating that pirates work for any established terrorist group. (30) Robert Kaplan has a different take on the terror notion, warning that fusion between piracy and terrorism might be possible in the case, for example, of "a scenario whereby a cruise ship would be captured, and the Americans and Britons on board rounded up and threatened with being thrown overboard if certain demands are not met". (31) To prevent such a scenario immediate action is necessary. This is deemed possible since naval coalitions have been proved easier to create than coalitions ashore.

3.2. Criminal, environmental, humanitarian and economic concerns

Maritime insecurity in the Horn of Africa region is cause for several concerns. Firstly, besides safeguarding the valuable trade around the Horn of Africa and the oil that is transported from the Persian Gulf to Suez, there is a general need to control cargoes. Illicit cargoes can include everything from arms smuggling and human trafficking to toxic waste. The lack of order at sea has encouraged all kinds of smuggling activities and large networks exist, linking the countries in the region. Smugglers regularly cross between Yemen, Somaliland and Djibouti, ferrying weapons, people and contraband. (32) Smuggling is not only a threat to security, but it has a humanitarian effect as well.

Secondly, although environmental security is traditionally not high on the African agenda, it has serious ramifications. Conflict causes substantial environmental damage and insufficient care of the environment, including the marine environment, can have dire consequences, especially when populations make increasing demands on it to sustain themselves. Subsistence fishing communities are threatened by large-scale illegal and foreign fishing, especially in the absence of effective maritime policing or patrolling, as is the case around the Horn of Africa. The large number of commercial fish species invariably attracts many intruders, which have depleted the region's fishing grounds.

Groups in Somaliland have claimed that Yemeni vessels are continuously poaching fish from the rich marine resources off Somaliland. Early in 2006 the 'Somaliland Coastguard' captured nine Yemeni fishing boats (and 84 fishermen). They released the fishermen shortly afterwards, but claimed that the boats were part of a Yemeni fleet of up to 200 boats illegally fishing in the waters off Somaliland. (33) Furthermore, Taiwanese, South Korean and other long-line fishermen are lured into Somali waters by lucrative yellow-fin tuna catches. The risk is high, as Somaliland 'coastal patrols' capture vessels. A case in point was the South Korean Dongwon-ho, which was released four months later after paying US$800 000 (a 'fine' to the Somali's and 'ransom' to the South Koreans). (34) Such incidents are often seen as piracy, while Somaliland sources claim that they are merely protecting their fishing resources.

In addition, a major environmental concern is the unknown quantity of waste that has been dumped off the Somali coast. This has occurred because of the geographic location of Somalia (easy and cheap to reach), low public awareness and the fact that influential locals could be bribed to allow illegal waste dumping. Much of the waste dumped was toxic, apparently including uranium, radio-active waste, leads, heavy metals (such as cadmium and mercury) as well as industrial, hospital and chemical waste. (35) Representatives of the UN Environment Program indicated that Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste since the early 1990s. Organised crime groups in Italy were linked to this, apparently offering waste disposal services to European companies at a very cheap rate (alleged to be US$2.50 compared to US$250 a ton). Some damaged hazardous waste containers washed ashore after the Asian tsunami. Because of a lack of information, the exact scope and impact off illegal dumping cannot be established and it is uncertain if this practice continues. However, according to a UN report of February 2005, waste dumping could have serious health implications for the people of the Horn of Africa. (36)

Furthermore, due to large amounts of oil being transported to Suez, the scourge of piracy, regular attacks on carriers and an asymmetrical threat, the risk of an accident at sea is high. A real possibility therefore exists that a major oil spill may occur, resulting in the pollution of coastal waters and an environmental fiasco.

Thirdly, the ongoing conflict in Somalia and insufficient maritime security have caused much disruption in humanitarian terms. Pirates have seized a number of World Food Programme (WFP) food shipments, thereby hindering humanitarian aid deliveries to millions of Somalis who depend on international relief. By April 2006 the situation had become critical as almost two million Somalis were on the brink of starvation, since the famine was fuelled by one of the worst droughts ever to hit East Africa. The WFP had to re-route many of its relief supplies overland through Kenya to southern Somalia, at far greater cost. Food distribution in Mogadishu was also disrupted by local power struggles. (37) At the beginning of 2008, 70 per cent of the population were undernourished and according to a WFP estimate, 300 000 to 400 000 people had fled Mogadishu between February and May 2007. As early as May 2007, the WFP appealed for high-level international support as piracy threatened relief supplies. (38) As a result, since late 2007, WFP ships have been escorted between Mombassa and Mogadishu.

In addition, according to the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights in Somalia (UNIE) and humanitarian organisations, human trafficking is rampant in Somalia. Reports also indicate that militias traffic women and children for sexual exploitation and forced labour to the Middle East, Europe and even South Africa. (39) Although it is forbidden by Shari'a and customary law, no unified policing to interdict such practices and no authoritative legal system to prosecute traffickers exist. The chaotic internal situation hides the full extent of human trafficking.

Somali refugees and human traffic cross the sea from Boosaaso (a busy smuggling hub in north-east Somalia) to Yemen. Horrific stories abound of bodies floating around, people drowning after being forced at gunpoint to jump overboard by smugglers, or just being shot out of hand. In May 2006 the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that boats arriving in Yemen from Boosaaso numbered around 30 a month, with hundreds, if not thousand of deaths among those transported. (40)

Finally, due to the value of marine resources and trade to the Horn of Africa region, the economic impact of the maritime security problems is self-evident. Somalia has lost wealth and income in most spheres of economic activity. In the maritime domain insecurity specifically impacts on fishing, trade, import and export, and lost revenues, duties and taxes. Other countries in the region also claim vast Losses due to illicit activities at sea. It is estimated, for example, that countries further south (Mozambique and Tanzania) lose more than a billion US dollars per year as a result of illegal fishing, reef destruction and the depletion of species. (41) Piracy is big business and pirates often work closely with organised crime syndicates operating from commercial ports, supplying them with information on ship movements and cargoes. It therefore boosts crime and damages the formal economy. Kenya, for example, claims that piracy has caused the country substantial Losses, running into billions of Kenyan shillings.

Poor maritime security has also caused other countries in the region Losses in the tourism and related industries, as waste dumping threatens coastal tourism and piracy inhibits leisure travel, from yachts to chartered voyages and large ocean liners. After the pirate attack on the Seabourn Spirit (off Somalia, November 2005), experts suggested that the shipping line (Seabourn Cruise Lines and Carnival Cruise Lines) blundered and exposed the passengers and crew to danger. (42) as a result much of the potential leisure shipping has kept well clear of the area, while those that do venture into these waters are exposed to high potential threat as the capture of the French luxury vessel Le Ponant (April 2008) and the attack on the cruise liner Nautica (November 2008) indicate.

In May 2008 insurers declared the Gulf of Aden a 'war-risk' zone, which increased premiums by tens of thousands of dollars per day. In addition, crews are often paid double for every day in the Gulf of Aden, while armed security guards are placed on some vessels. Piracy has therefore driven up the annual costs of shipping through the Gulf of Aden by an estimated US$500 million. (43)

Some shipping companies have ordered their ships to travel around the southern point of Africa 'at speed', in order to avoid pirate infested waters. This would obviously reduce traffic through the Suez Canal (an economic mainstay for Egypt) and result in millions of dollars in revenue Loss. (44) However, the daring capture of the Sirius Star invalidated the notion that ships sailing around the Cape of Good Hope are safe. Even ships sailing from Richards Bay to India laden with coal are keeping 720 nautical miles from Somalia as attacks have taken place hundreds of miles from Somalia. Nevertheless, ship owners do not mind the Losses the detour incurs if it ensures the safety of the crew and cargo and means that delivery dates are kept. (45)

Countries require maritime sovereignty in order to benefit from the sea. (46) Navies and coastguards contribute to order at sea and uphold a country's sovereignty within its territorial waters. Somalia does not have the ability to enforce its maritime sovereignty and the lack of a central authority on land is reflected in the maritime domain. Other countries in the Horn of Africa region struggle to develop basic naval forces and maintain harbour security. States must protect their own maritime territory and citizens from threat. However, it is a fundamental principle of international law that sovereignty must be exercised to be recognised. In the case of weak states the mere existence of a minor capacity is important as it could have vast political consequences, even for powerful states, if they disregard such sovereignty.


Complex situations call for complex solutions. Maritime actions alone are not enough and much of the solution to the region's maritime security problems is essentially ashore. Restoring order requires the establishment of a proper, operating civilian system of law and order, as well as functioning policing ashore. In the case of Somalia, experience has shown that efforts to secure law and order through military intervention are fraught with difficulties. Furthermore, the lack of law and order at sea also contributes towards making things worse ashore, considering that piracy and transnational crime (such as human trafficking and drug smuggling) pose a threat to state authority and undermine the rule of law and security. The challenge is therefore to create order ashore and at sea.

Maritime security is important for stability within the maritime domain and the economic utilisation of the sea, as it limits threats such as illegal fishing, pollution, piracy, asymmetrical threats and other criminal activities. A proper awareness of the maritime domain is necessary, as well as intelligence, operations, suitable responses, co-operation, law enforcement and port security, to name just a few. Responses must be integrated and various agencies, involving state and non-state actors, will have to co-operate to improve maritime and harbour security and to ensure environmental care.

However, actions must take place within a proper legal frame work (both nationally and internationally). The mere presence of a coastguard or police force could do much to enhance maritime security in ports and in a country's territorial waters. Since the example of Somalia has shown that poor maritime security not only affects the security of the state but regional security and international security as well, the required action should involve more than those associated with policing, physical security and maintaining good order at sea. Hence, consideration is given to national, regional and international efforts to improve maritime security around the Horn of Africa and to combat piracy. Recent measures have included international co-operation, unilateral actions by states, naval deployments, the use of private security as well as the increasing involvement of Africa itself. Nevertheless, efforts to enhance regional security and recreate the semblance of a state in Somalia have to be sustained on a continuous basis.

4.1 International co-operation and unilateral actions by states

As indicated, the contemporary resurgence of piracy has been evident for a number of years. However, it really drew the attention of the international community and media during 2008, following a number of high profile captures taking place around the Horn of Africa. By early 2009, naval vessels from more than a dozen countries were deployed in the region to counter piracy, while the UN Security Council had passed four resolutions addressing the issue during 2008.

As concerns the situation on land, establishing law and order ashore is an important prerequisite to combat piracy as it would enhance control in the maritime domain, especially in spheres such as port control and the monitoring of the arrival and departure of vessels. However, government authority remains weak and countries appear to be hesitant to conduct peace operations in Somalia. As previously indicated, following the termination of UN efforts, the first AU peacekeepers to Somalia (AMISON), from Uganda and Burundi, deployed during 2007. Further deployments took place, but not as planned as the threat of insurgent leaders to target peacekeepers has caused some hesitation amongst African countries. (47) For example, Nigeria announced in August 2008 that it would deploy a battalion within weeks. This was stalled several times and by late February 2009 Nigeria indicated that it is reluctant to bolster AMISOM because of constant attacks on peacekeepers. (48)

With the roots of piracy ashore, a UN report specifically indicated that it should be tackled in a way that combines action against the pirates at sea with measures to restore law and order, political processes and economic activity on land. Employment and educational opportunities must be created for poor uneducated Somali youths, while state institutions should be stabilised to secure the rule of law. (49)

As concerns piracy as such, by early 2008 France, the US, the United Kingdom (UK) and Panama sought UN Security Council consent to allow states to pursue pirates into "the territorial waters of Somalia ... [to] deter, prevent and repress piracy ... board, search, and seize vessels ... suspected of piracy and apprehend persons engaged in such acts". (50) Weakened by war and instability, Somalia agreed to such a violation of its own sovereignty, stating that forces might "come ashore if necessary". (51) As a result the UN Security Council adopted a series of resolutions (the first on 2 June 2008), authorising deployments around Somalia, the use of "all necessary means" and a coordinated and cohesive response, both "internationally and nationally", in the fight against piracy. (52) On 16 December 2008 the Security Council also adopted a resolution that allowed "(s)tates and regional organisations cooperating in the fight against piracy ... [to] undertake all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia, for the purpose of suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, pursuant to the request of the TFG". (53)

Though many countries desire decisive international action, they are nevertheless apprehensive that the UN may in effect alter existing international law by adopting these resolutions. For example, the countries that signed the Djibouti anti-piracy code (eight African states and Yemen) argued against the aforementioned since it will undermine the sovereignty of countries in accordance with international law. As an alternative they supported the principle "that each ship pursuing a pirate has to ask for the permission of the concerned state to enter its waters". (54)

At a more practical and operational level, and in order to address the complex maritime security problems of the region, individual states must be aware of possible solutions; have the will to act; have to enhance their capacity to limit maritime threats; have to improve law enforcement, customs, environmental control and port security; and have to establish authority in their territorial waters and economic exclusion zones. Though states usually wish to be independent in security terms, countries in the region operate navies with severely limited budgets and should ideally co-operate, specifically as those that threaten maritime security do not stop at international borders. Collective security and regional co-operation offer important advantages and allow more to be done with less.

Currently, Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 is the most conspicuous international or coalition undertaking in the maritime domain of the region. It operates in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Strait of Hormuz, Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Naval vessels from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Pakistan, the UK, the US, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia participate, or have participated in it. CTF 150 was established in 2001 as the maritime adjunct of Operation Enduring Freedom (launched by the United States in response to the '9/11' attacks). Its key responsibilities are to monitor, inspect, board and stop suspect shipping, (55) limit maritime crime and piracy, and conduct "operations to assist states in the region to combat terrorism and to enhance regional stability". (56)

Official sources indicate that CTF 150 will maintain its presence for an indefinite period of time. Because of its forward presence and area of operations, CTF 150 is a deterrent and enhances maritime security. No single state has the capacity to conduct such extensive operations on its own, which makes the requirement for a permanent coalition force obvious. (57) Pakistan is currently the only non-NATO participant and as there are no African participants, it is important to gain the confidence of Africa or even to obtain African involvement. As most European countries are unlikely to get involved in Africa unilaterally, their involvement stems from their NATO and European Union (EU) responsibilities. (58)

Besides CTF 150, the US announced the creation of a new multinational task force, CTF 151, in January 2009. Some navies participating in CTF 150 do not have the authority to conduct anti-piracy operations, while the specific purpose of CTF 151 is to "deter, disrupt and suppress piracy ... enhance maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for all nations". Its operational area is the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Red Sea. (59) The US approach is to allow other nations to participate in CTF 151 and to cooperate with China, India, Russia and the EU. Australia announced in January 2009 that it would probably avail a warship, while sources indicated (in February 2009) that besides US vessels, ships from the UK, Denmark, Turkey, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Pakistan will participate in CTF 151. (60)

On 8 December 2008 the EU launched its anti-piracy naval operation in the Gulf of Aden. Eight countries participate in a flotilla (with three aircraft as back-up), as part of a year-long operation code named Operation Atalanta. The Security Council resolutions allow them to breach the 12-mile territorial limit, making it possible to enter Somali waters in pursuit of pirates. The Foreign Policy Chief of the EU, Javier Solana, stated that they will also co-ordinate their activities with those of other navies operating in the region. (61)

At a time of global economic crisis (and the demand for freight substantially dropping) shipping companies are reluctant to increase their overheads, with the result that they exert pressure on their governments for naval support. By January 2009, naval vessels from more than a dozen countries (including NATO members, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, China, India, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia) were conducting patrols in the area. Even the Japanese government decided in February 2009 to deploy two destroyers for anti-piracy missions to the region to protect Japanese shipping. For the first time, the Japanese Self Defence Force will participate in joint international peace operations. (62)

At a unilateral level, African maritime security is high on the agenda of the new Africa Command (AFRICOM) of the US. (63) Its aim is to protect US strategic interest in Africa and to assist African countries with military training and conflict prevention, while coastal countries could be supported in developing at least a credible coastguard. Several African countries (Libya, Nigeria and South Africa, amongst others) expressed reservations about AFRICOM as it could signal an expansion of US influence in Africa, with the primary aim to protect oil interests, while some consider it as the African dimension of the US 'war on terror'. As many countries opposed the idea of AFRICOM basing its headquarters in Africa, it remained in Stuttgart, Germany. (64)

AFRICOM has stressed the importance of fighting African piracy, citing concern about an increase of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, particularly off the coasts of oil-rich Nigeria and Cameroon. As AFRICOM aims "to stretch the reach of African law enforcement", it is providing training to members of the Cape Verde Coast Guard on board US Navy and Coast Guard vessels. Senegal and Sierra Leone have subsequently also shown interest and training programmes with these countries will soon commence. (65) The US will continue to be part of CTF 150 and will also base forces in Djibouti (the CJTFHOA). Though the US regards Somalia as a 'failed state', that is unable to prevent al-Qaeda supporters from seeking refuge in the country, it is unlikely to again get involved ashore. It therefore seems unlikely that AFRICOM will impact directly on the security situation in the Horn of Africa region in the short term.

Within the region itself, maritime security in the Gulf of Aden is very important to Yemen. Many thousands of Somali refugees have fled to Yemen, while allegations of illegal fishing, piracy and smuggling have caused tension between Yemen and representatives of Somalia and Somaliland. Though the Yemeni Coastguard actively police coastal waters, they lack proper equipment and should receive more assistance from the better equipped Yemeni Navy. Yemeni authorities have also done much to improve port security in Aden.

Though international naval and military involvement may seem like an obvious response, political consent remains critical. As military actions may produce unwanted political repercussions, are expensive and lead to casualties, politicians remain cautious. Therefore, naval and other forces must receive a clear mandate from policy makers and fully understand the limitations within which they have to operate. Clear strategic objectives and political commitment is therefore essential as the mere presence of a force is not sufficient. As politicians seem to agree that the maritime security situation in the Horn of Africa region requires urgent attention, the present emphasis is not on the 'why', but on the 'how' and 'who does what'.

Besides countries and regional and international bodies, cooperation should also involve the various agencies operating in the area. Information must be shared and integrated policies to facilitate co-operation must be established to address the multitude of maritime security threats. An ideal response would be the establishment of a regional maritime control or co-ordinating centre operating from a state in the region. Control in itself, however, must be effective and for that naval or coastguard forces must be able to respond and cooperate.

4.2 Naval forces, security at sea and private security

How can naval forces and coastguards contribute to combating piracy and what is currently being done? Navies can essentially contribute by maintaining good order at sea and through maritime diplomacy. This is based on their ability to use force, to project power and to maintain a presence as a bystander. Naval forces have a unique advantage over armies and air forces in the sense that they do not necessarily appear menacing. They can easily perform diplomatic roles in foreign ports, but can also quickly switch from a peaceful or diplomatic role to a belligerent one.

In strategic terms navies can typically protect trade and military supplies, deny an opponent the use of the sea, protect resources along the coast and offshore, acquire bases from which to operate, move and support troops and gain and maintain air and sea control in support of operations both at sea and on land. (68) The following tasks typically emanate from the above, namely controlling sea lanes of communication; guarding against illicit trade, piracy, terrorism, pollution and the overexploitation of maritime resources; and the provision of humanitarian and disaster relief. In order to perform these tasks successfully in the Horn of Africa region, the physical presence of naval or coastguard vessels, good intelligence and multi-national co-operation are required.

It is evident that piracy is endemic in the Horn of Africa region and that there is a clear need to reduce the risk to shipping by coastal and offshore patrols. The IMB warned that if the international naval vessels operating around the Horn of Africa do not do more, for example to also intercept and apprehend suspicious craft, unrestrained piracy will continue. (67) Due to its vast geographic area (2.5 million square miles), naval forces are just not present when most attacks occur. Once a ship is captured and the crew becomes hostage, very few options are available to warships, even if they are in the immediate vicinity.

As indicated, naval vessels from several countries have been deployed in the area. By January 2009, an estimated 30 naval vessels from more than a dozen countries (including NATO members, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, China and India) were conducting patrols. Though large, sophisticated and expensive warships might not be the best platforms for anti-piracy duties, as smaller ships can do the work, the reality is that mostly sophisticated naval vessels are operating in the region. If pirates seize or threaten shipping, any warship in the vicinity must act. The regular patrols have limited success as many hijackings still take place, yet naval vessels have achieved a number of successes against pirates. Since November 2008, Russia, China and India have thwarted multiple piracy attacks, while during the second half of 2008, the US and coalition vessels have warded off at least two dozen pirate attacks. (68)

Naval vessels have also achieved a few other noteworthy successes. For example, after the Indian registered Al Bisarat was captured and used by pirates as a mother ship, the American destroyer, USS Winston S. Churchill, tracked it down, forced the pirates to surrender and transferred them to Kenya for trial. (69) In October 2007 the guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams came to the assistance of a North Korean freighter, the Dai Hong Dan, after receiving a message that it was hijacked. A helicopter from the destroyer investigated the Dai Hong Dan and ordered the hijackers to surrender. The North Korean crew overpowered the pirates, killed two and captured five others. Three North Korean crewmen were seriously wounded and were taken aboard the American destroyer for treatment. (70) Considering the US-North Korean animosity, the fight against piracy surely makes for strange bedfellows.

After a few highly publicised hijackings in the first quarter of 2008, some dramatic relief was offered. On 4 April Somali pirates seized the French luxury yacht Le Ponant (with a crew of 30). French naval vessels shadowed Le Ponant and once the ransom (1,25 million [euro]) was paid and the safety of the crew guaranteed, elite French troops attacked, killing five pirates and capturing a few others--even pursuing them into the desert. (71) The time span between the hijacking of Le Ponant and the payment of the ransom was much quicker than with other recent hijackings, which could be ascribed to the rapid French military presence on the scene. (72) Recently French naval vessels were also engaged in rescuing the crew of a small yacht and in January 2009, the Jean de Vienne intercepted and captured 19 pirates who tried to hijack two ships. (73) Most other navies operating around Somalia have foiled pirate attacks. In February 2009 a Chinese navy helicopter drove off a few small pirate boats closing in on an Italian ship, while a Danish warship, the Absalon, assisted a Chinese merchantmen that managed to prevent pirates from boarding by taking evasive manoeuvres and using their tire hoses. The Danes boarded the pirate vessels and found several weapons on board, including an RPG, AK-47s and grenades. (74)

Naval forces have captured many suspected pirates, some of whom were released. For example, the Danish Navy released ten pirates shortly after capturing them in September 2008 because jurisdiction was unclear (illustrating the dilemma of how and under which laws to prosecute them). The French have criticised this approach as 'catch and release', since 12 suspected pirates are awaiting trial in France, while the French Navy have handed over 17 suspected pirates to the Puntland regional government. The UK and US navies have similarly handed over pirates to Kenya for prosecution. (75)

Navies might be present but unable to respond as the legal framework within which they have to act does not provide clear guidelines. For example, should the Somali pirates be seen as criminals or as a military threat? When the German frigate Emden patrolled the Somali coast in 2008 in search of possible al-Qaeda vessels, it came upon pirates attacking a Japanese tanker. It had to let the pirates go, as it could only intervene against a 'terror' threat. (76) German law requires parliamentary approval for foreign military deployments due to historic uneasiness about German military aggression. Many experts argue that the UN resolutions provide the legal mandate for tougher actions against Somali pirates and during December 2008, the German government approved the deployment of 1 400 German naval personnel to participate in the EU's Operation Atalanta. (77)

Apart from preventing or responding to specific acts of piracy, escorting merchantmen is a classic role warships can perform. After a joint appeal by the WFP and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), France decided to provide a naval escort for a few months from November 2007 to secure the delivery of food aid to Somalia. These ships arrived safely in Mogadishu, while a naval commando detachment provided military protection to ensure the deliveries. (78) After the French, the Danes, Dutch and Canadians in turn took over the responsibility of escorting the WFP vessels. By early 2009 these ships were being escorted by the EU task force, Atalanta--with the French ship Floreal on escort duty and the Germans set to take over. (79) Naval escorts have certainly proved to be an effective way of securing the delivery of food aid.

How successful are navies? Analysts differ on this issue, but it seems that navies have certainly succeeded in deterring attacks and that pirates might find it harder to hijack ships. In August 2008, 53 per cent of attacks were successful, while the number had dropped to 31 per cent by October. (80) However, when the naval contingents withdraw, piracy will inevitably surge again if Somalia remains unstable.

In addition to the aforesaid anti-piracy measures, control of fishing is a typical 'blue light' function that requires inspections and a constant presence at sea, but not usually physical force. In July 2007 the Somali and Yemeni Ministers of Fisheries agreed to protect traditional fishermen in the waters off Somalia and Yemen and to cooperate in combating illegal fishing and piracy. (81) It is an important step forward, yet the challenge is to enforce it.

These so-called 'blue-light' duties (or maritime constabulary tasks) that navies or coastguards perform are usually tedious, routine tasks. Besides the safeguarding of shipping, they also include efforts to limit smuggling, human trafficking and waste dumping. To supplement these tasks, proper port security and policing should be in place as these measures will not only improve security, but also add to revenue through taxes and tariffs. Many of these tasks fall within the sphere of maritime diplomacy and can at times even involve coercive diplomacy, specifically if they involve combating international piracy and terrorism, the detection and prevention of smuggling, and countering environmental threats at sea. (82) However, without proper navies or coastguards, states in the region find it very difficult to guarantee their maritime sovereignty and to protect their maritime territory and citizens against threats. Thus naval diplomacy and international assistance are important ways of dealing with the problem.

It should, in conclusion, be noted that many private security companies are also involved in combating piracy. Their support to the shipping industry includes a large variety of techniques and services, ranging from the training of bridge officers to take evasive manoeuvres to physical security measures and security guards. A variety of non-lethal anti-piracy measures can be taken to deter

pirates, such as the use of high-tech sonic cannons, electrified handrails, placing extra crew on watch, drenching approaching boats with foam sprayers or high pressure tire hoses, while decks could be sprayed to make them very slippery. (83) Most shipping companies do not arm their ships and crews as many experts, insurers and the IMO do not endorse arming merchant vessels, arguing that this could increase the level of violence.

How effective is private security? It certainly is a deterrent, but many of the security guards placed on ships are not armed. Though an armed deterrent would obviously be better, the argument as previously stated is that it would unnecessarily endanger crews. Blackwater, a private security concern, availed a vessel to escort ships through the Gulf of Aden, but by February 2009 it had not been used and shipping companies have instead appealed for more naval support. Security guards have a mixed record regarding piracy deterrence. On 28 November 2008 (in the Gulf of Aden), five pirates approached the Singaporean chemical tanker Biscaglia in a small open speedboat and succeeded in boarding and hijacking it, despite the presence of three unarmed security guards (ex-Royal Marines) working for a British anti-piracy security firm. The security guards promptly leapt overboard, were rescued by a German naval helicopter and taken to a French frigate. (84)

Considering the aforesaid, it is evident that only naval forces can maintain order at sea and support peace operations ashore. However, in the Horn of Africa region the local capacity does not exist and this has essentially become an international task with the mandate of navies being extended as a result of the anti-piracy resolutions adopted by the Security Council. The present issues are the extent to which decision-makers are prepared to get involved ashore; how much effort is committed; and what the mandate of participating forces will be.

4.3 Potential African contribution

The African economic losses resulting from piracy, smuggling, lack of port security, illegal fishing, reef destruction and the depletion of species are considerable. Maritime trafficking in drugs, arms and humans are on the increase, while piracy impacts negatively on coastal and international shipping. Maritime security is therefore important to Africa, yet it does not receive much attention in the African security debate.

How can Africa address these problems? The answer is to focus on capabilities. For example, if South Africa has an established blue water capability, should the South African Navy not support maritime security operations? If navies specialise in different fields and combine their capabilities, this option would be cheaper in the long run than for all navies to try and do everything. Learning from NATO, such an approach may be the way forward for the African Standby Force (ASF). Financially it would be much cheaper for specific forces to focus on unique roles. However, much work still has to be done regarding policy. The Common African Defence and Security Policy of the AU (where the concept of the ASF originated) does not address maritime issues or threats and the impression is that African security does not involve maritime security issues or even issues relating to trade and marine resources. The point made is that the ideals regarding human security and development will be difficult to achieve if maritime threats are ignored. (85)

Many crucial capabilities are also sorely lacking in Africa and should be addressed. These include the lack of maritime air surveillance and reconnaissance, efficient early warning and intelligence. Furthermore, credible mobile forces with the capacity to deter and deliver firepower, with flexibility and reach, as well as the capability to sustain operations for a long period, should be created. If African navies co-operate, key problems they would have to manage are to develop the required common procedures (specifically for command and control); to create standardised logistics and operational doctrine to make proper and effective co-operation possible; to establish a common communication ability; and to ensure that national participants are all on an equal footing (with smaller contributors not being dominated by larger).

These are some of the many challenges African countries face. Maintaining maritime security around the coast of Africa, African countries realise, is essentially an African responsibility and it should ideally not be done by foreign naval task forces. However, African navies are small and maintaining maritime sovereignty in their own waters is already a mammoth task for many states. Hence, to then also participate for an indefinite period in a multi-national naval task force would be a very challenging proposition. It is therefore important to identify the tools African navies require to address maritime security problems, as they simply do not have the wherewithal to perform the necessary tasks. Prominent states and navies can assist smaller navies to acquire material means and to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to manage maritime security.

A case in point is Kenya that has actively enhanced its maritime security by improving the security of its coastline and harbours. After UN and Kenyan surveys described the port of Mombassa a soft target,(86) port security was improved through measures that included the installation of electronic surveillance systems, physical security and a higher police and security presence. The US donated security equipment and six speedboats (five 8 metre boats and one 13 metre craft) to the Kenyan Navy, while also providing training assistance. The speedboats are expected to improve the policing of Kenya's territorial waters, whereas personnel underwent intensive training in Mombassa and coastal patrols were also stepped-up. (87)

Kenya has also done much to create an appropriate legal framework. In December 2008 and January 2009, it signed memorandums of understanding with the UK and the US for co-operation in prosecuting pirates through Kenyan courts. (88) In addition, the Kenya Revenue Authority has launched a marine unit utilising three speedboats (a fourth will be purchased soon) to secure border points in Mombassa and Kisumu, in order to step up the fight against contraband and illicit trade. (89) These Kenyan efforts to enhance maritime security have been widely commended.

The IMO has also launched certain initiatives. Apart from hosting a number of regional anti-piracy workshops, emphasising the value of regional agreements in the fight against piracy, it has initiated negotiations amongst East African states to finalise agreements that would facilitate co-operation in combating piracy. These efforts should be supported by the major trading nations and legal capacity building in the area should be a priority. "lf nations in East Africa develop the legal architecture to deal with piracy, including adequate lawyers, court rooms, and confinement facilities, they will be more willing and better able to enforce the maritime rule of law". (90) As part of regional co-operation, states with a better capacity should assist those who are still developing. As regional co-operation in the Straits of Malacca, under the leadership of one state--Singapore--has shown, piracy can significantly be reduced.

On 29 January 2009 nine countries affected by Somali piracy (Ethiopia plus eight coastal countries, namely Djibouti, Kenya, Madagascar, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Yemen) signed a code of conduct in Djibouti to co-operate in combating piracy in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. This agreement was signed under the auspices of the IMO and is the "first regional agreement between Arab and African countries against acts of piracy in the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and the western Indian Ocean". (91) No agreement was reached on the issue of allowing foreign navies to engage in 'hot pursuit' in Somali territorial waters, but provision was made for the creation of three information centres (in respectively, Mombassa, Dar es Salaam and Sanaa) and for an anti-piracy training centre in Djibouti. The signatories are also required to create legislation to allow for the arrest and prosecution of piracy suspects. The latter is an important aspect, especially as the fate of Somali pirates captured by warships patrolling the area is a sensitive issue.

Some analysts have also suggested that navies from East Africa and the Middle East should team up and patrol the coast of Somalia in the same way that navies from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia did in the Straits of Malacca. Though the principle seems logical the practice is not. The area to be secured is very large, also considering that the navies in the region have limited resources and that they would find it difficult to meet the challenge of keeping ships operational at sea for long periods of time. A more reasonable expectation is the creation of regional maritime security or counter-piracy co-ordination centres, which is in line with the Djibouti code.

From a South African perspective it is obvious that the SA Navy can contribute. As early as 1998 the South African Deputy Minister of Defence stated that "the South African Navy has a valuable role to play in supporting South Africa's ... regional and international policies. The benign nature of the Navy as a diplomatic tool is one that South Africa can use as a force for global good ... in support of our South African neighbours and in protecting the region's broad interests". (92) Both the EU and the US have invited the SA Navy to participate in CTF 150. The SA Navy nevertheless declined, citing very credible reasons, but expressed a willingness to participate in the future. In February 2009 it was announced that the SA Navy could soon be escorting ships from South Africa into Somali waters, where other navies would take over. This is believed to be the result of attacks taking place further south and of the fact that South Africa, "with all the latest military hardware, cannot be seen to be sitting back and allowing the situation to continue as it is". At the same time the SA Navy indicated that their training provides for a "spectrum of operations, including convoy escorting". (93)


In strategic, economic and humanitarian terms maritime security is important to African nations. This is probably nowhere more evident than in the case of Somalia, where the lack of stability ashore has impacted negatively on the situation at sea. To improve the maritime security situation in the Horn of Africa region, a greater awareness of the realities of the situation, improved co-operation between role-players and enhanced capabilities to limit maritime threats amongst the states involved, are necessary. Essentially, it is about having the political commitment to act, to find the wherewithal to perform the required tasks and to provide those doing the job with a clear mandate.

Various alternatives exist to combat piracy, ranging from private security companies to the large-scale deployment of international naval forces. Although some analysts have suggested that by early 2009 international naval patrols off Somalia were expected to have reduced the number of hijackings, it is still too early to draw any conclusions and a more informed opinion will only be possible by mid-2009. However, it must be emphasised that these measures are essentially defensive in nature and that the best solution is to restore proper law and order ashore.

The message is unequivocal: an enhanced and integrated approach to maritime security in the region is necessary, despite financial and material limitations. International and regional organisations, national governments, navies and civilian role players involved in the maritime sphere should develop an integrated approach that links all aspects, also requiring them to think, plan and work together. In fact, what is necessary for the region is enhanced co-operation and an integrated 'ocean policy' involving all role-players.


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(2.) Arnold, G Africa: A Modern History, Atlantic, London, 2006, pp 660-663.

(3.) Oyebade, A and A Olao, Africa after the Cold War: The Changing Perspectives on Security, Africa World Press, Trenton, 1998, p 162.

(4.) Meredith, M, op cit, pp 478 and 482-483.

(5.) International Crisis Group, "Somalia: to move beyond the Failed State", Africa Report, No 147, 23 December 2008, pp ii, 20 and 25.

(6.) UN Department of Safety and Security, UNDSS Somalia Daily SITREP UNDSS, 26 February 2009 and "AU Pledges more troops for Somalia", Nation (Kenya), 24 February 2009.

(7.) Roughneen, S, "Somaliland: The pull of terror", International Relations and Security Network (ISN), 11 November 2008, (http://www.isn.ethz. ch/isn/Current-Affairs/Security-Watch/Detail/?lng=en&id=93701).

(8.) Somalia Security Information, March 2005, ( profiles/Somalia/Seclnfo.html).

(9.) Somalia Navy, ( navy.htm).

(10.) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, "Yemen--Hom of Africa: 130 migrants die after coast guards open fire", IRIN, humanitarian news and analysis, 14 November 2007, ( Report.aspx?ReportId=71614).

(11.) Till, G (ed), Seapower at the Millennium, Sutton, Stroud, 2001, pp 8-11.

(12.) "Waters that prompt fear from the toughest of sailors", New York Times (New York), 3 July 2006, ( africa/03somalia.html).

(13.) OXFAM, "Piracy plagues Somali waters", 19 November 2007, (http:// oxford.html).

(14.) "Piracy spurs threats to shipping costs", Wall Street Journal, 19 November 2008; and OXFAM, op cit.

(15.) Fouche, H, "Piracy: The African Experience", paper delivered at the International Conference on Maritime Security in Southern African Waters, 22-23 July 2008, STIAS, Stellenbosch, p 5; and UK Maritime Trade Operations, "Piracy and maritime crime (Horn of Africa)", UKMTO Dubai Briefing, 21 September 2006.

(16.) "Somali pirates release Taiwanese ship", Agence France-Presse, 5 November 2007 in CHINFO News Clips, 6 November 2007.

(17.) The statistics were compiled from a number of sources including the following: "Reported piracy incidents rise sharply in 2007", Weekly Piracy Report, International Chamber of Commerce, Commercial Crime Services, (; CNN, 5 May 2008, in CHINFO News Clips, 6 May 2008; US Navy Office of Information, "Counter piracy and Combined Task Force 151", Rhumb Lines, 16 January 2009; and "IMB Reports unprecedented rise in maritime hijackings", ICC Commercial Crime Services, 16 January 2009, ( 332:imb-reports-unprecedented-rise-in-maritime-hijackings&catid= 60:news&ltemid=51).

(18.) OXFAM, op cit.

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(20.) UN Political Office for Somalia, op cit.

(21.) "Somali pirate tells why he is happy attacking ships", Nation (Kenya), 20 January 2009.

(22.) "How savage pirates reign on the world's high seas", The Observer, 27 April 2008; "Somali President asks French for troops, naval help", Reuters, 5 May 2008; "Crew of Spanish ship home after hijacking off Somalia", Associated Press, 30 April 2008; and "Brute force on the high seas", Der Tagesspiegel, 25 April 2008.

(23.) "MV Faina finally enters Kenyan waters", The Standard (Kenya), 10 February 2009.

(24.) "Pirates lock out brokers", The Standard (Kenya), 22 January 2009; "MV Faina: Freed at last ... but whose arsenal is it?", The Standard (Kenya), 6 February 2009; "Pirates to free ship for $3 million ransom", Nation (Kenya), 3 February 2009; "Crowd cheers as Ukrainian ship sails in", Nation (Kenya) 13 February 2009.

(25.) "Arms ship's full cargo revealed", Nation (Kenya), 17 February 2009; and "Cargo from 'MV Faina' moved to Nairobi today", The Standard (Kenya), 18 February 2009.

(26.) "Hijacked tanker with $100m oil anchors off Somalia coast", The Standard (Kenya), 18 November 2008; and "After Hijacking, Saudi Foreign Minister says nation will join anti-piracy efforts", Washington Post, 19 November 2008.

(27.) "Saudi tanker crew 'sale and well'", BBC News, 10 January 2009; "Six pirates drown leaving freed Saudi supertanker", Agence France Presse, 10 January 2009, in CHINFO News Clips, 12 January 2009; and "Pirates release hijacked tanker", Wall Street Journal, 10 January 2009.

(28.) "Cargo ship outruns pirates off Tanzania", CNN, 7 December 2008, in CHINFO News Clips, 9 December 2008.

(29.) Luft, G and A Korin, "Terrorism goes to sea", Foreign Affairs, November/ December 2004; and "Tanker attack fits bin Laden's economic war", Independent, 8 October 2002.

(30.) "Multi-national force deployed to combat piracy off East African coast", Biblioline Basic, (; and "U.N. Group Charts New Course Against Piracy", op cit.

(31.) Kaplan, R, "Hot spots: Somalia events could force US to ramp up piracy fight", Wall Street Journal, 5 January 2009.

(32.) UK Maritime Trade Operations, op cit.

(33.) "Stealing my fish, adding insult to economic injury", Somaliland Net, 20 March 2006, ( articles/13371692.shtml).

(34.) "The battle against illegal fishing off East Africa's coast", The Economist, 3 August 2006.

(35.) UN Environmental Programme, "National rapid environmental desk assessment - Somalia", 2006, available at reports/TSUNAMI_SOMALIA_LAYOUT.pdf.

(36.) "Waste dumping off Somali coast may have links to Mafia, Somali warlords", Voice of America, 15 March 2005, ( english/archive/2005-03/2005-03-15-voa34.cfm?CFID= 221833898&CFTOKEN=44002112); and UN Environmental Programme, op cit.

(37.) "Somalia food aid stopped", Islamic Focus, CiPS, University of Pretoria, Issue 13 November 2007; and "Somali piracy a menace to aid relief', TerraDaily, 20 April 2006, ( Piracy A Menace To Aid Relief.html).

(38.) OXFAM, op cit;, and World Food Programme, "WFP urges high-level international action against Somali piracy", 21 May 2007, (http://

(39.) US Department of State, "Country reports on human rights practices Somalia", 8 March 2006, ( 61592.htm).

(40.) "Human trafficking: Greed and the trail of death", The Independent, 25 May 2006.

(41.) American Forces Information Service, "Africa Command gives top priority to aggressive maritime security", 24 October 2007.

(42.) Von Hoesslin, K, "A medal for gallantry, impending negligence lawsuit, and a boatload full of speculation: The elusive Seabourn Spirit affair", Protocol Strategic Insights, No 8, June 2007.

(43.) Frump, R F, "Choice between poverty and prosperity fosters piracy", The Shipping Digest, 12 January 2009; and "Piracy spurs threats to shipping costs", Wall Street Journal, 19 November 2008.

(44.) "Egypt's Suez Canal threatened by Somali pirates", National Public Radio, 1 December 2008, in CHINFO News Clips, 2 December 2008.

(45.) Commodore IN (ret) Rai, R, Email message to author, 24 February 2008.

(46.) Till, G, Seapower. A Guide for the Twenty-First Century, Frank Cass, London, 2004, p 328.

(47.) International Crisis Group, "Somalia: to move beyond the failed state", Africa Report, No 147, 23 December 2008, p 20.

(48.) UN Department of Safety and Security, UNDSS Somalia Daily SITREP, UNDSS, 26 February 2009.

(49.) UN Political Office for Somalia, op cit.

(50.) UN Security Council, "Update Report No. 1 Somalia", Security Council Report, 2 May 2008, ( c.g|KWLeMTIsG/b.4096805/#top).

(51.) "Somali President asks French for troops, naval help", Reuters, 5 May 2008; "Brute force on the high seas", op cit.

(52.) UN Political Office for Somalia, op cit.

(53.) United Nations Security Council Resolution 1851, S/RES/1851, 2008, 16 December 2008; and "Somalia: to move beyond the failed state", International Crisis Group, op cit, p 28.

(54.) "Nine countries sign deal to fight Somali piracy", Agence France Presse, 29 January 2009, in CHINFO News Clips, 30 January 2009.

(55.) US Fifth Fleet Combined Maritime Forces, "Combined Task Force 150", (; and "Coalition naval force secures energy assets", Gulf Times, 13 December 2007, in CHINFO News Clips, 13 December 2007.

(56.) UK Maritime Trade Operations, op cit.

(57.) "Coalition naval force secures energy assets", op cit.

(58.) Discussions with official French and German military and diplomatic representatives, 2008/2009.

(59.) US Navy Office of Information, op cit.

(60.) "Navy creates force devoted to fighting piracy", CNN, 8 January 2009; and "Australia may join anti-piracy force", The Age, 7 January 2009, in CHINFO News Clips, 8 and 9 January 2009.

(61.) "Array of strategies are tried to turn back pirates at sea", New York Times, 9 December 2008.

(62.) "Defense Ministry mulling SDF joint operations for Somalia offshore antipiracy mission", Sankei Shimbun (translated from Japanese), 2 February 2009; and "Two Japan MSDF destroyers to be deployed on antipiracy mission off Somalia", Kyodo News, 3 February 2009, in CHINFO News Clips, 4 February 2009.

(63.) American Forces Information Service, "Africa Command gives top priority to aggressive maritime security", 24 October 2007, in CHINFO News Clips, 24 October 2007.

(64.) "Nigeria won't house AFRICOM", Associated Press, 19 November 2007, in CHINFO News Clips, 20 November 2007.

(65.) "AFRICOM counters piracy with training: U.S. Navy, Coast Guard working with African countries on maritime security", Stars and Stripes, 12 January 2009, in CHINFO News Clips, 12 January 2009.

(66.) Hattendorf, J B, "The conceptual foundations for maritime strategy in the 21st century", Africa Defence Review, No 18, 1994, ( pubs/ASR/ADR18/Hattendorf.html). See also Till, G (ed), op cit, p 5.

(67.) OXFAM, op cit.

(68.) Kraska, J and B Wilson, "Fighting pirates: The pen and the sword", World Policy Journal, Winter 2008/09, p 42.

(69.) "Waters that prompt fear from the toughest of sailors", New York Times, 3 July 2006, ( 03somalia.html).

(70.) "Navy helps foil pirate attacks on merchant ships off East Africa", Virginian-Pilot, 31 October 2007, in CHINFO News Clips, 31 October 2007.

(71.) UN Security Council, op cit; "High-tech pirates are no romantic figures", CNN, 30 April 2008, in CHINFO News Clips, 29 April 2008; "Somali President asks French for troops, naval help", Reuters, 5 May 2008; and "Brute force on the high seas", Der Tagesspiegel, 25 April 2008.

(72.) "Le Ponant crew released", Weekly Piracy Report, International Chamber of Commerce, Commercial Crime Services, 14 April 2008, ( main/news.php?newsid=108).

(73.) "French Navy saves 2 cargo ships from pirates", Associated Press, 4 January 2009, IN CHINFO News Clips, 5 January 2009.

(74.) BBC TV, International News Bulletin, 20:00 GMT, 26 February 2009.

(75.) Kraska, J and B Wilson, op cit, p 46; and "French Navy hands over eight Somali pirates to Puntland", Agence France Presse, 3 January 2009, in CHINFO News Clips, 5 January 2009.

(76.) "Piracy is terrorism", New York Times, 5 December 2008.

(77.) Deutsche Welle TV News, 10 December 2008.

(78.) Discussions with official French military and diplomatic representatives, 2008/2009. See also "Concerned at conditions in Somalia, Security Council urges end to violence", UN News Centre, 19 November 2007, ( somalia&Cr1=)

(79.) Discussions with official Dutch and French military and diplomatic representatives, 2008/2009.

(80.) "Backgrounder: Combating maritime piracy", New York Times, 27 January 2009.

(81.) "Yemen, Somalia agree on protecting fishermen", Yemen News Agency, 5 July 2007, ( news&item_id= 1745&approach_ id=17).

(82.) Murfett, M H, "Gunboat diplomacy: Outmoded or back in vogue?", in Dorman A and M L Smith (eds), The Changing Face of Maritime Power, MacMillan, Basingstoke, 1999, p 87.

(83.) "Backgrounder: Combating maritime piracy", op cit.

(84.) "British crew jump overboard as pirates hijack another tanker off Somalia", The Telegraph (UK), 28 November 2008; "Somali pirates hijack 1 ship, free another", Associated Press, 29 November 2008, in CHINFO News Clips, 1 December 2008.

(85.) "Experts warn of piracy threat to South African waters", Pretoria News (Pretoria), 27 November 2006.

(86.) "Kenya: Country moves to tighten security at Mombassa", all, 2 October 2007, (

(87.) Ibid; and "US donates boats to secure Kenya's coastline", The Standard, 9 October 2006.

(88.) "Kenya agrees to prosecute U.S.-held pirates: Pentagon", Reuters, 29 January 2009, in CHINFO News Clips, 30 January 2009; and Media Note, Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, Washington, 14 January 2009.

(89.) "Marine unit launched to counter fakes", Nation (Kenya), 27 January 2009.

(90.) Kraska, J and B Wilson, op cit, p 51.

(91.) "Nine countries sign deal to fight Somali piracy", op cit.

(92.) Edmonds, M and G Mills, Beyond the Horizon: Defence, Diplomacy and South Africa's Naval Opportunities, South African Institute of International Affairs and the Centre for Defence and International Security Studies, Johannesburg, 1998, pp vii-viii.

(93.) "SA Navy set to take on pirates", Pretoria News (Pretoria), 23 February 2009.

Cmdr (Dr) Thean Potgieter

Faculty of Military Science

University of Stellenbosch
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Author:Potgieter, Thean
Publication:Strategic Review for Southern Africa
Article Type:Company overview
Date:May 1, 2009
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