By Zhou Bo
Counter-piracy in the Gulf of Aden could not have been more successful. No commercial ships have been hijacked since 2013, compared with 46 ships in 2010. At the 18th Plenary Session of Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia at the UN headquarters on July 8, 2015, the European Union reiterated its “two zeros” goal for this year – zero ships and zero seafarers in the hands of Somali pirates.
This raises two questions: Can the international navies operating in the western Indian Ocean withdraw now? Could the lessons learned from the western Indian Ocean be applied to the Gulf of Guinea and Southeast Asia where piracy is on the rise?
On the first question, the fear is piracy will simply reverse should the international navies withdraw. In a country ripped apart by more than 20 years of civil war and plagued by 70 percent unemployment, piracy sounds like gold coins to jobless youths. Two dhows were still hijacked last year. The UN Security Council has been renewing its mandate on counter-piracy in the waters off the Somali coast on a yearly basis since 2008, but whether counter-piracy will continue after 2016 remains unclear.
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