Atalanta – the deterrent effect is visible (Part 1)

Christian Dewitz 

A welcome development, but not yet clear. The shipping office of the International Chamber of Commerce announced on April 24 that piracy had reached on the high seas in the first quarter of 2014 to their lowest in comparison to previous periods since 2007. However, the risk of pirate attacks is omnipresent in the future. The German Navy will continue to participate in the anti-piracy mission Atalanta of the European Union (EU) off the Somali coast. This was decided by the German Bundestag on 22 May by a large majority.


The latest report of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) recorded in the first months of this year, 49 pirate attacks worldwide (in 2007 there were 41 attacks less).¬†For the area of ‚Äã‚Äãthe Somali coast to five attacks were now reported as much as the same period in 2013. Three ships were attacked while unsuccessful, two were shot.¬†IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan commented on the development in the Horn of Africa with cautious optimism: “Even if the number of attempted attacks ship is low again, the threat posed by Somali pirates remains continue to exist.”

The shipping office IMB is a special department for crime at sea of ​​the International Chamber of Commerce (International Chamber of Commerce, ICC) in London. The office itself has an observer status with Interpol, has with the WCO (World Customs Organization, WCO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreed and has since 1992 an occupied around the clock reporting center for piracy in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur (IMB Piracy Reporting Centre) .

Large majority of the members of the Bundestag for a mandate extension

In the roll-call vote in Parliament on the request of the Federal Government on 30 April with the bulky entitled “Continuation of the involvement of German armed forces to the EU-led Operation Atalanta to combat piracy off the Somali coast” 582 votes were cast.461 deputies voted in the affirmative.¬†There were 70 votes against and 51 abstentions.¬†The government had already agreed to the request, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Defence Committee in May.¬†The Left Party voted against an extension of the mandate, the Greens abstained.¬†No majority found a resolution tabled by the Group of the Alliance 90/The Greens, who had called for, among other things, to take back the expansion of the area of ‚Äã‚Äãoperations for the German Army on land in Somalia.

The Armed Forces can now “EU NAVFOR Somalia – Atalanta” in the operation to participate at the latest May 31, 2015 (with a further extension of the mandate is to be expected).¬†Up to 1200 German soldiers can be used to protect international shipping lanes around the Horn of Africa;¬†before the mandate ceiling was at 1,400 soldiers.¬†At the moment our Marine involved with the following units at Atalanta: Frigate “Brandenburg”, fuel tanker “Rh√∂n”, a maritime patrol aircraft P-3C Orion and Sea Lynx helicopter Mk.88A.

The Atalanta mission-related additional expenditure for the period June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015 amount to around 64.9 million euros, according to government information and paid out of the defense budget. In financial year 2014, which accounts for 37.9 million, to the financial year 2015 27 million euros.

EU Maritime Association for the second time under German command

The “Brandenburg” has taken on April 6 in Djibouti, capital of the African republic on the Gulf of Aden, the role of Atalanta flagship of the French landing ship “Siroco”.¬†The multinational association leads now until August to Rear Admiral J√ºrgen Mills, commander of Flotilla 2 (22 August, the “Brandenburg” is expected back in Wilhelmshaven).¬†The Commander is supported by a 35-strong international staff, members of the sailors from twelve nations.

With the mills for the second time, a German supreme command of this task force of the EU.¬†From August 13 to December 6, 2011 was Rear Admiral Thomas Jugel – Been Force Commander – on board the frigate “Bavaria”.¬†Next to the “Rh√∂n” The association to the “Brandenburg” has the following ships: frigate “Floreal” (France), frigate ‘De Zeven Provinci√´n “(Netherlands) and patrol boat” Rel√°mpago “(Spain).¬†Alongside Germany, Luxembourg and Spain each provide a maritime surveillance.

Currently – as of May 28 – 368 Armed Forces members in the EU mission in the Horn of Africa and the surrounding seas in action, including 15 soldiers and 12 reservists.¬†On April 23, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen had visited the German mission contingent.¬†In Djibouti they had been welcomed by Ambassador Wolfgang Piecha Rear Admiral and to mills.¬†Subsequently, the Minister went on board the “Brandenburg”.

One of the greatest threats to international shipping routes

The federal government, which had decided to continue the Bundeswehr participation in Atalanta on April 30, provides in its request for the parliamentary vote again the situation in the Horn of Africa dar. Still lying here one of the greatest threats to international shipping routes, she warns .¬†It continues: “By the waters off Somalia – particularly the Gulf of Aden – leads most important trade route between Europe, the Arabian Peninsula and Asia.¬†These keep you safe and open, is an important task for international security policy, and is also in direct German interest.¬†The local problem of piracy has its cause in the political and economic conditions in Somalia.¬†The country remains recruiting ground and a base for piracy activities. ”

Atalanta aim overall, humanitarian access to Somalia by protecting vessels of the World Food Programme and AMISOM (African Union Mission to Somalia), alleviate the operating off the Somali coast pirates and deter, civilian shipping traffic on the local trade routes secure to prevent hostage-taking and ransom demands and enforce international law.

Three build on each other CSDP missions of Europeans

The federal government is contributing in various ways to the international efforts to stabilize Somalia. The EU is in the Horn of Africa so far NAVFOR with the EU military operation Atalanta, the military training mission EUTM Somalia and the mainly civilian training mission to strengthen regional maritime capabilities EUCAP Nestor engaged. In addition, they support the peacekeeping mission AMISOM. With its three successive CSDP missions, the EU plays a significant role in the region (CSDP: Common Security and Defence Policy).

As part of the “Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa,” the EU EUTM Somalia makes a significant contribution in the field of security sector reform in support of the construction of the Somali armed forces and thereby promotes sustainable pacification and stabilization of the East African country and the wider region.

According to a response from the federal government on 6 May this year to a request from the Alliance 90/The Greens around 3,600 Somali soldiers are in the previous training passages of EUTM Somalia in the Republic of Uganda to the end of 2013 have been trained. On April 5, 2014 have an additional 34 soldiers after the first training course in the Somali capital Mogadishu obtained the qualification to become a trainer. These units form the core of the future of the Somali armed forces.

The mission EUCAP Nestor is another building block for the development and promotion of an autonomous, regional African conflict management. With it, the EU supports the neighboring countries of Somalia, to create powerful agencies for independent control of its own maritime waters. In addition, Somalia is to be able to build capacity to control its territorial area and to combat piracy and promote. The mission also advises on legal issues related to maritime security.

Work security companies in a legal limbo?

In the parliamentary debate in the Bundestag on 22 May, the opposition once more made their positions clear.¬†Jan van Aken (The Left) criticized the use of private security forces on ships in the operating area of ‚Äã‚ÄãAtalanta.¬†”The war against the pirates has long been run by individual owners, of companies that have specialized in doing business with the war at sea and thus now earn each year hundreds of millions of euros.¬†The bad thing is that these companies operate in a completely lawless area. ”

At the same time van Aken condemned the “joined up approach” of the federal government and the EU in the crisis region.¬†In Somalia, had in recent years, neither politically nor economically anything improved, complained of MPs from the left.¬†”The so-called government of Somalia has lost in recent months, even the control over large parts of the capital.¬†Severe attacks are commonplace in Mogadishu.¬†Now also threatens even a catastrophic famine. “What would help Van Akens’s view, be direct negotiations between the parties.¬†The federal government impedes that by supporting the view of his party and faction “democratic legitimacy” Somali leadership.

Green against a “creeping introduction of permanent mandates”

Doris Wagner of Alliance 90/The Greens criticized in the parliamentary debate “a certain lack of transparency” in the resolution of the government.¬†”Instead of clearly outline what the German Navy to make the Horn of Africa actually fed us the Federal Government with the reference that you’ll just carry on as before.” With this mandate, the text, the Merkel government agency against the spirit of Parliamentary Participation Act.

The SPD accused Wagner of trying to cover up this way to have the Atalanta mandate last year still refused.¬†Even the Union come this obfuscation located: “Because that’s just it, what you really intend with the Commission on the Review of Parliamentary Participation Act – the Bundestag should just not be able to look and decide each year for certain whether a certain Bundeswehr mission abroad to answer or not.¬†What do you actually operate here is the creeping introduction of permanent mandates that we should simply rubber stamp without asking and thinking in more detail. ”

Apart from lacking from the perspective of Alliance 90/The Greens clarity of the mandate text there was a second reason for the Group, to abstain in the subsequent vote.¬†For this, the MPs: “The other reason is that the mandate of the Bundeswehr still entitles them to penetrate to a depth of two kilometers on the Somali mainland to there … to take action against logistic facilities of the pirates.” So suppose the government approvingly that “the Bundeswehr operations on land also could contribute to the military escalation in Somalia”.

About the progress of the Bundestag debate before the roll call vote for Atalanta mandate extension on May 22 and on the latest figures on “Piracy off the Horn of Africa”, we report in the second part of our contribution.

(Translated from the original German by Google)


Original Article