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 as the South West Monsoon continues to influence the Indian Ocean reducing the sighting of small boat activity. The reporting period (23 – 30 August) has no confirmed piracy incidents to report. Despite this, there have been approaches in recent months by suspected pirate skiffs along with reports of pirate paraphernalia in areas such as the Bab-el-Mandeb strait. Incidents in the maritime domain involving onshore violence has not only been reported in the Southern Red Sea off the coast of Yemen but also off the coast of southern Somalia. This in turn illustrates that the High Risk Area remains vulnerable to not only piracy but also violence on land spilling out into the maritime domain. 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)
Migrant boat sinks off the coast of Yemen
At least 30 people have been reported to have died after a boat with 150 migrants overturned in the waters off the southern Yemeni coast of the Shabwa district. Open source media reported that most of those on board had come from Somalia. Migrant smuggling between the Horn of Africa and Yemen remains prevelant despite the continued conflict in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia intercepts missiles fired by Houthi rebels near Jizan
In recent weeks Houthi rebels have increased their attacks against several cities in Saudi Arabia, such as the south western port city of Jizan, as the offensive continues to re-take Houthi rebel controlled territory such as the key port city of Hodeidah.
Iran announced it is to move main oil export terminal from Arabian Gulf
It has been reported this week that President Rouhani has announced it is to move its main export terminal from the Arabian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman. The President stated that the terminal would move from Kharg Island terminal located deep into the Arabian Gulf to Bandar-e-Jask in the Gulf of Oman and would be completed by 2021. For tankers to reach Kharg Island terminal at present they must pass through the Strait of Hormuz which slows down deliveries. Iran has repeatedly threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in response to continued economic sanctions imposed by the US.
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.