Indian Ocean security challenges still pose a threat

Stephen Spark

SEYCHELLES: East Africa’s new regional security force lacks the maritime capability to take on pirates and other seaborne criminals, Seychelles’ foreign minister has revealed.

Jean Paul Adam, speaking exclusively to IHS Maritime, warned that continuing instability on land in Somalia may prompt the return of piracy if international naval forces depart.

“We all must be very realistic in understanding that a lot of the root problems in Somalia are still there‚Ķ Without the necessary protective measures, piracy could very easily spring up again,” Adam said.

He continued: “It’s very clear that from 2016, the shape of the international forces will change. There will need to be a continuation of the co-ordination, because the reality is that very few countries in this region have the ability for the blue-water capacity. The better sharing of information, co-ordination, intelligence-sharing have meant that we can scale-down the effort immensely. But it would be a mistake to scrap it altogether.”

Next month the African Union launches its 10-country East African Standby Force to respond to a broad range of security challenges. However, at a ministerial meeting in Seychelles in October, EASF acknowledged that it lacked maritime capacity.

Adam explained: “Even though we’re going to be a fully operational standby force, our ability to deliver it at sea is limited because we don’t have that capacity for projection of force.”

Several major seizures of heroin and ivory this year have highlighted new maritime security challenges in the region, as Adam noted: “A lot of the people who used to organise piracy are now organising other criminal activity, and that includes things such as arms trafficking, people trafficking, drugs trafficking and related activities‚Ķ [Somali Islamist insurgency] al-Shabaab are using maritime highways for the transport of their own supplies, for smuggling things which are earning them income.


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