The Danish Institute for Military Studies (DIMS) concludes in a new report that the way to stop piracy off the coast of Somalia is to introduce a regional coastguard from Egypt in the north to Tanzania in the south.
The report, which is to be presented at an international conference in London on April 27, suggests that the countries around the Horn of Africa cooperate in a regional coastguard.
“This coastguard service should address piracy, rescue operations, fishing inspection and environmental protection,” DIMS Researcher Lars Bangert Struwe tells politiken.dk.
“We find that by giving a coastguard more and important tasks, involved nations are more motivated to take part,” Struwe says.
“Local participation should not be confined to Somalia, but to the entire region defined as the ‘Greater Horn of Africa’. This will mean that the coastguard is not just associated with Africa or the Arab world but to both sides of the Gulf of Aden,” the report says.
The report proposes that Kenya, Tanzania, Eritrea, Djibouti, Egypt, Yemen and Saudi-Arabia take part in the project.
Although these states may have diverging interests, they all have a direct interest in keeping the sailing routes around the Horn of Africa free of pirates. They all have major economic and security interests in stemming the tide of piracy, the report says.
The Danish researchers also believe, however, that Somalia – or some provinces of Somalia – should as far as possible be included in the coastguard operations. At the same time it is vital for Egypt and Saudi Arabia to take part as they are the only countries with frigates.
Struwe says that the current anti-piracy operations in the region simply address the symptoms, and it will be necessary to introduce other measures in the long-term.
“Part of the problem is that the many naval vessels off Somalia are not a unified international unit coordinating operations. There are two task forces, but, for example, Russia, China and India are not part of the coordinated operation,” he says.
Struwe says that East Africa states are not particularly interested in anti-piracy and are reluctant to become involved in the Somali wasp’s nest – despite the fact that it would be in their interests to do so.
“A country like Egypt is highly dependent on anti-piracy measures and that the traffic through the Suez Canal becomes normalized. In March alone, Egypt lost 25 percent of its regular income from canal passages,” Struwe says.
In its report, DIMS says that anti-piracy measures are effective if several countries cooperate.
While piracy is on the upsurge in East and West Africa, it has fallen dramatically in Southeast Asia, including the Malacca and Singapore Straits where the number of piracy attacks have been halved from 170 in 2003 to 54 in 2008.
“This dramatic drop is a result of a transnational effort,” the report says.