Indian Ocean HRA Overview
- No incidents reported in the High Risk Area during the reporting period.
The tactical situation across the Indian Ocean High Risk Area (HRA) remains low in terms of the threat of piracy, there have been no confirmed incidents issued by the UKMTO since July 2018.
Throughout August 2018 the conflict in Yemen continued to threaten the maritime domain. This in turn illustrates that the High Risk Area remains vulnerable to not only piracy but also violence on land threatening major shipping routes. The current assessment is that piracy attacks will remain sporadic and at a low level along with rebel/terrorist groups continuing to conduct attacks in the region for the foreseeable future.
Adverse weather conditions continue to influence the Indian Ocean, piracy operations are therefore more likely to occur in more sheltered areas such as the Bab-el-Mandeb strait and Gulf of Aden where skiffs are able to operate with more ease. Reports have indicated that Somali pirates may use the monsoon as cover for attacks against merchant ships in areas such as the Gulf of Aden where weather conditions are not as severe.
Reported Incidents HRA
No incidents to report during the reporting period (UKMTO)
Hodeidah port continues to be operational however as the offensive pushes further into the city of Hodeidah this is likely to disrupt port operations. It is estimated over 900,000 people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance in the Hodeidah governorate alone. The port serves approximately 80% of Yemen’s imports making it critical port for aid supplies to enter the country.
During the course of this week Saudi coalition forces took control of a major Houthi supply route near the port city of Hodeidah.
No attacks against shipping by Houthi rebels have been recorded since July 2018 although the threat of attack remains. Attacks with the use of explosive laden skiffs have been used frequently by the rebels. Saudi vessels and warships remain the target although it cannot be ruled out that commercial shipping may be subjected to a miscalculated attack.
Houthi rebels fire more missiles at Saudi Arabia
This week Houthi rebels fired more missiles at Najran and the region of Jizan. Saudi forces intercepted both missiles.
Al Shabaab continue to be increasingly active in Somalia, maintaining strongholds in southern and central Somalia. The terrorist group continue to carry out attacks against military and civilian targets.
Somalia is a country whereby tribal loyalties are stronger than national ties which have hindered efforts to strengthen unity. Terrorist groups and clan divisions mean that the SFG and Somali forces lack legitimacy outside of Mogadishu. Further to this, al Shabaab further exemplifies the issue of famine, terrorism and corruption making the prospect of stability in Somalia in the near future bleak. Al Shabaab is likely to maintain its present operational tempo in 2018 which leaves huge challenges facing Mogadishu meaning international efforts to stabilise the country will continue for years to come.
Until the deep rooted issue of piracy in Somalia are resolved, piracy will continue to be a threat. In recent times Somalia has suffered some of the worst famines in 40 years, this coupled with the struggling government and extreme militant violence has brought millions of people into crisis. Pirate financiers capitalise on the chaos offering opportunities to local people. Somalia has the second-longest coastline in Africa which is largely unregulated. Pirate groups are known to operate in the coastal regions of Puntland namely Eyl and further south in Galmudug namely Hobyo. It is needless to say, as instability in Somalia continues, it will serve as a permissive environment for piracy operations serving as an ongoing threat to shipping in the region.