In July, 2015, the command of Operation Atalanta, announced the cessation of robbery attacks on merchant and other vessels off the coast of East Africa in the last six months. This mission was launched by the leadership of the European Union in 2008 year in order to counter the threat of piracy emanating from Somalia, as well as to perform some other tasks of secondary importance. The operation is managed from the UK.
European admirals lack of attacks is hailed as a great success, caused by “military measures, adaptation of commercial freight methods to the current conditions, the use of private security companies by placing their employees on ships”.
However, according to the leaders of the operation, the threat of piracy in the Horn of Africa is still very high, and it’s advisable to maintain a naval presence at least in the short term.
Enormous resources were attracted to ensure the safety of shipping from sea burglary in this area. Thus, the annual budget of a single operation “Atalanta” is currently 7,35 million euros. It involves the 2 frigate and the 3 patrol craft from various European countries, replacing each other on a rotating basis. Also used one reconnaissance and one transport aircraft. Until recently, from 7 to 9 ships, 3 aircraft and helicopters were involved.
During the period of "Atalanta", according to the materials of the Western press, Europeans also launched air strikes on pirate boats.
Ship security is also provided by ships under the auspices of NATO as part of Operation Ocean Shield (Ocean Shield), launched in August 2009. In addition to the Alliance member states, New Zealand, Australia, Ukraine and Colombia were partners of Brussels. Before 2015, ships from different states participated in it, from 4 to 6, sometimes even submarines were involved. However, since 2015, a decision has been made to significantly reduce the presence of NATO: in the winter, water can only be monitored by airplanes, while ships will arrive in troubled areas only in the spring of 2016. True, “Ocean Shield” has not yet collapsed, and its terms have been extended until the end of 2016.
Another major international group is the so-called “Combined Task Force 151”, created in January 151 at the initiative of Washington and including more than 2009 countries from different parts of the world. The command is stationed in Manama (Bahrain), where the headquarters of the 30th Fleet US Navy. It was the units of this operational group that took part in the release of the captured crew member of the Maersk Alabama in 2009. Based on these events, the famous film Captain Phillips was later shot.
In addition, measures to counter piracy are carried out by units of other countries outside the blocks, of which the Russian, Japanese and Chinese ships have been the most active in the last 5 – 6 years.
Safer routes for ships in the Somalia region were also developed. And, of course, it was not without private security companies that were used in one form or another.
Unmanned aerial vehicles, mainly MQ-2009 "Ripper", which are capable of carrying up to four air-to-ground missiles, are actively used by Americans to track pirates from 9. And although the air strikes against pirates by the Americans were not officially reported, the existence of such facts cannot be ruled out. Perhaps this was the most impressive method of influence in order to wean the Somalis from the maritime robbery, albeit from a legal point of view.
Somali activists often make accusations against foreign Navy units that warships often guard poachers in the waters of the exclusive sea zone and also help to discharge large quantities of waste, including radioactive ones, into the sea, which turns the coastal regions of the country in a big landfill. It is difficult to verify the objectivity of these allegations, but even if they are true, it is unlikely that anyone outside Somalia will pay attention to them.
If you look at the lists of warships that have taken part in countering the pirates in recent years, you get the impression that Somalia has become the zone of the main naval battle of a major global conflict. It is hard to believe that the reason for such a cluster of naval units in dozens of countries is hungry and tattered robbers on home-made boats, armed with rusty (but reliable) AKs.
Given the huge number of forces involved, stopping pirate attacks does not seem to be a very big achievement. It would be strange if, with the measures taken on such a scale, attacks continued.
The reduction in the number of naval contingents is not caused by the improvement of the situation, but by gaining experience and honing the interaction. Piracy itself as a phenomenon has not been defeated, so far it has only been able to defend itself.
As for Somalia itself, now there are quite alarming events taking place, the negative effect of which is spreading beyond the borders of the country’s territory and threatens to turn into a serious crisis on the scale of the whole Black continent.
BLOODY REMARKS OF KENYA
Terrible attacks occur in neighboring Kenya over the past four years. The largest of them is an attack on a shopping center in Nairobi in September 2013, killing more than 60 people, including several foreigners. Then the attackers, seizing the shopping center, began to purposefully shoot those hostages who, in their opinion, were not a supporter of the Islamic religion.
22 November 2014 of the year near the border with Somalia, armed militants seized a regular bus, took him to a deserted place and coolly shot 28 passengers - those who were not called Muslims.
2 December 2014 of the year in the same area the terrorists committed the 36 massacre of Kenyan workers (according to the organizers of the attack, all those killed were not Muslims) sleeping in a tent near the quarry.
In April of this year, a local university was captured by armed militants in the town of Garissa, the capital of the northeastern province. As in previous cases, the terrorists tried to divide hostages into Muslims and adherents of other religions, after which the latter were shot. The number of victims reached 148 people.
And this is not the only tragedy.
It is striking monstrous cruelty and an attempt to make the crimes of religious hatred and intolerance to crimes.
The main objectives of these terrorist attacks have been achieved: the tourism sector, which is one of the foundations of the economy of an African country, has been significantly undermined. And, worst of all, signs of religious tension appeared in Kenyan society, and many Christian residents of the northern provinces, much populated by Muslims, began to massively move to other areas because of fear of violence against themselves. Even many public organizations that simultaneously accused the government of failing to ensure the safety of citizens, called for a change of residence because of the threat of terror.
Responsibility for most of the attacks was claimed by the Harakat Al-Shabab Al-Mujaheddin (Movement of Young Mujahideen) movement, abbreviated as Al-Shabab. Against this armed group, which controls a large part of Somali territory, it has not been for several years, with varying success, full-scale war against both pro-government Somali formations and the forces of the international coalition. The latter is mainly represented by the AMISOM (The African Union Mission in Somalia), established in 2007 by a UN decision. Its main tool is a military group of more than 22 thousand people stationed in Somalia to assist the Somali authorities in the fight against Al-Shabab movement and to perform other tasks. The grouping consists of contingents of the following countries: Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Burundi. Serious assistance in the fight against terror in Somalia is also provided by the United States through special operations, the provision of intelligence and other assistance. American UAVs are widely used, for which Somalia has become a testing ground.
For African governments, their participation in solving the Somali crisis is primarily due to the need to prevent the spread of terrorism and extremism into their own territories. If we talk about Kenya, whose military units are fighting in the territory of a neighboring country from 2011, then its goal is to minimize the influence of the Islamists in the border provinces of Somalia and create a so-called security buffer.
Al-Shabab immediately responded to these hostilities with the widespread terror that unfolded in Kenya in 2011, after the start of the military operation. Moreover, the perpetrators of the attacks are increasingly not only Somali saboteurs, but also Kenyan citizens from among northern ethnic groups that traditionally profess Islam and have close cultural and historical connection with Somalia. According to Nairobi, there are many among the terrorists and people of Kenyan descent who did not come from Muslim communities, but who converted to Islam and shared the radical ideology of Al-Shabab. These are very troubling signs of the expansion of the sowing death and terror structure deep into Africa.
REFUGEES - NUTRITION FOR TERRORISTS
The Somali refugees hiding in the north of Kenya are also a breeding ground for terrorists, the number of which exceeds 600 thousand people. They began arriving here in the 1992 year, after the start of the civil war in Somalia. At the same time, the camp for refugees Dadaab was built, which later became the largest in the world, where about 350 thousand people live. During the most crisis periods, the camp received 500 thousand people. A large influx of refugees occurred in 2011 – 2012, when famine caused by a prolonged drought raged in Somalia. The number of deaths from starvation, according to UN estimates, amounted to 260 thousand people, half of whom are children up to 5 years.
The living conditions in the Kenyan camps are terrible: they are overpopulated more than three times compared to the standard size, there is an acute shortage of water, the physical survival of people in some cases depends entirely on humanitarian assistance from international organizations, and crime and violence have reached enormous proportions. However, despite the regular demands of the authorities, there are few people who want to return home: even such conditions seem to be better than the Somali ones.
By the way, during the so-called migration crisis that erupted in the EU in 2015, about 1 million migrants to the Old World are expected to arrive. Of course, it is a pity for all people, but these are 2% of the total number of refugees in the world, which, according to the UN, there are more than 50 million people. And this million 28 states of the European Union - not the poorest countries in the world - will be received. But if this is a crisis that has become one of the most covered events in the world, then how can you name the situation in Africa, where refugees and displaced persons, according to various sources, are from 15 to 25 million people?
FROM WHERE I HAVE SENT "ASH-SHABAB"
The history of the civil war in Somalia, as well as international operations on the territory of this country, has more than 20 years, and their chronicle deserves a separate analysis. However, no less interesting is the question of how and why the mentioned Al-Shabab group emerged, which managed to take control of vast territories and achieve serious success in the military and political component. An analysis of this phenomenon using the example of Somalia allows us to understand many of the phenomena occurring today in Africa and the Middle East. One thing is clear - their success would be impossible without the support of a significant part of the local population.
Somalia is one of the most socially difficult communities in Africa with a clan structure, which largely determined the further development of this country. The title ethnos - Somalis - consists of 5 main tribes (dir, darod, haviye, rahanwein and isaac), which in turn are divided into clans, sub-clans and families. They are heterogeneous, differ in lifestyle, colloquial dialects and other signs.
Although almost all Somalis are Sunni Muslims of the Shafi mazhab, the institution of tribal customs and traditions is a very important element in everyday life, often playing a major role in the organization of society. This applies to issues of self-government, relations between tribes and clans, a number of cultural elements - for example, ancient folk holidays or the worship of rain. In addition to the Somalis themselves, there are national minorities in the form of small (no more than 5% of the total) ethnic groups, mainly in the south of the country.
As a result, the Somali nation has never represented a single community, and tribal and clan feuds have always been here. The main reasons for this hostility are the struggle for fertile territories, pastures, water sources, centers of concentration of economic activity (large markets, ports, etc.). It is logical that a higher position in the social and economic structure of society has always been occupied by stronger and more numerous tribes, and the social status of a Somalian is largely determined by its membership in a particular clan. In the minds of the overwhelming majority of the population, the clan has always been the main institution that can be trusted, and government structures are viewed as something alien and hostile.
European military and law enforcement agencies managed to significantly reduce the threat from the pirates and stop the transportation of African illegal immigrants by sea. Photos from www.eunavfor.eu
Most of the Somalis are nomads who are in constant movement, therefore the clear boundaries of tribal control over certain areas of the territory are not defined.
With independence in 1960, the state was significantly transformed, but the main principle in the form of preserving the traditional way of life was preserved.
Perhaps the only factor capable of consolidating Somali tribes is the so-called idea of the Great Somalia. It is the need to join the country of the territories of Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti, where ethnic Somalis traditionally live. This is not dictated by imperial ambitions, but by the reluctance to recognize the boundaries drawn by the former colonialists who divided the Somali people and thus created the groundwork for future conflicts that have repeatedly occurred in the past.
For example, the problem area of the border with Kenya was laid by the British back in 1925 by agreement with Italy. Then the ethnic and religious factors were not taken into account at all, with the result that the Somalis found themselves in two different states. The control of the Kenyan authorities outside the state border is very weak today, and movement between countries is almost free, which entails many negative aspects, including in the form of endless smuggling flows weapons. Any attempt by Nairobi to strengthen the northern borders is met with protest by both official Mogadishu and the local population on both sides of the border. To some extent, they can be understood: the border divides many families and clans, so its closure will create huge problems for them. A similar situation is observed on many other African borders, which creates enormous problems and repeatedly causes wars and conflicts.
An attempt to unite the country with the help of state institutions was undertaken during the reign of the military led by President Mohammed Siad Bar in 1969 – 1990. Although the government in those years largely relied on the clan principle, the internal situation was significantly stabilized for several years. The key factors for this were the widespread assistance of various kinds from the USSR, the harsh repressive policies of the central government, the smoothing of tribal contradictions at the expense of the very general idea of Greater Somalia. The latter resulted in a bloody war with Ethiopia in the 1977 – 1978 years, ending in the defeat of Somalia. However, the weakening of Soviet aid, the deterioration of the general socio-economic situation and the weakening of the central authorities in the late 1980s led to the beginning of a civil war and the fall of the government. The institution of the state itself, as an element alien to Somali society, has virtually ceased to exist, and the country since the beginning of the 1990s plunged into an inter-clan war, which no one has become the absolute winner of. As before, the main cause of internal conflicts between clans and groups is economic resources.
True, now the region is flooded with a huge number of modern weapons, and the clan confrontation has become more violent and bloody: the number of dead exceeded 1 million people. Active intervention in the civil war was on the part of Ethiopia and the United States, and from 2011 onwards, Kenya.
The main result of the war, which has not ceased to this day, is the absence of a government controlling the entire territory, incessant civil strife, economic degradation, an extremely low standard of living, the division of the country into several self-proclaimed states. Somaliland in the north with the capital in the city of Hargeisa, which is the area of residence of the Isaac tribe, managed to achieve the greatest autonomy.
As for the Islamists, they appeared in Somalia in 1982, when Al-Itihad Al-Islami was established (from the Arabic, the Islamic Union). She positioned herself as an opposition movement and carried out propaganda work among the population, calling for strict observance of traditional religious laws and increasing the role of religious institutions in society.
This grouping could not achieve serious political influence. First, the military regime, although it declared its respect for religious traditions, did not tolerate the slightest attempts of the Muslim clergy to interfere in politics and brutally suppressed them. Secondly, and no less important, the declared calls and principles of the Islamists were alien to Somali society, where along with religious canons tribal traditions and customs are widely represented as a way of life. In addition, the Somalis - the people of poets and musicians who love noisy holidays, dances and festivities, and, for example, the use of kata is considered an integral attribute of the majority of people in the country. Therefore, abstinence and a modest lifestyle, aimed at strict observance of Sharia law, as one of the main directions declared by Islamists, then did not find support among the general population.
But at the beginning of 1990, when Al-Itihad Al-Islami re-entered the stage, the situation changed. In the early years of the civil war, the organization failed to achieve major military successes, entrenched in several localities in different parts of the country, and in 1996, its positions were finally defeated by rival groups and Ethiopian troops, and the structure under this name ceased to exist.
Significantly another. Established in localities, the Islamists put into practice the principles of deeper implementation of religious laws in public life. Exercises that were close to the hanbalistic madhhab, non-traditional for Somalia, were being distributed as being more strict in terms of Sharia law and less tolerant of national customs, referred to in Islamic law as “adat”. In practice, this was expressed in the rigid management of territories, the introduction of religious sciences in educational institutions, the ban on the use of kata and tobacco, mass festivities and dances, in strict control of residents' observance of holy fasting, prayers and other religious precepts, wearing clothes, behavior, etc. d. Public executions for crimes, including by cutting off limbs, have become frequent occurrences. Many traditional holidays that go back to the traditions of the tribes were banned, there were cases of destruction of ancient monuments and places of worship.
Of course, all this is not traditional for Somalia and at first glance is perceived as medieval barbarism. But it was then that similar methods of management were supported by many citizens.
The harsh methods of administering the Islamists were able to significantly calm the situation in the territories under their control, which during the civil war was characterized as lawlessness and chaos. In fact, power in the “Somali Emirates” belonged to religious leaders, and not to field commanders and gangs, as in the rest of the country, which irritated a large part of the population, tired of endless war. Of course, radicals should not be idealized, but their cruelty turned out to be more attractive than rampant, robbery and arbitrariness of armed groups. Thus, the principle that in several years will work in Afghanistan when the Taliban seizes power, and then to some extent in Iraq while the influence of the Islamic State grouping is spreading against the background of general chaos and war, has worked.
Another factor in the attractiveness of the Islamists, especially significant in Africa, is their proposed alternative social structure. As is known, many tribes and ethnic groups, including those in the Horn of Africa, are caste and rigidly structured communities, where weaker groups occupy a low and subordinate position compared to stronger ones.
And in the conditions of the civil war in Somalia and the associated chaos, mutual genocide, poverty and famine, the law of the jungle in the literal sense began to operate in the country, where the strongest survived. Therefore, clan membership often became a matter of physical existence for many people.
But the system declared by the Islamists was significantly different from the traditional African: according to Sharia, all members of the Islamic Ummah are equal, and Islam does not recognize the caste system of organizing society as such. In other words, the last ragged one who joins the ranks of the Islamists is theoretically equal in rights even with the main caliph of all devout Muslims. Of course, in practice among the Islamists there is corruption and the clan system in one form or another, but the proposed slogans on equality and readiness to admit everyone regardless of ethnic and clan membership in Somalia was very attractive, especially among young people. Hence the name of the movement “Al-Shabab”, which means “youth” translated from the Arabic language. It is noteworthy that the backbone of the groups in the early years were immigrants from weaker and deprived clans and tribes, dissatisfied with their social status within the Somali community.
TACTICS OF KOMARINIAN BITES
These reasons largely determined the continued success of the next Islamist organization, Al-Itihad Al-Muhakim Al-Islamia (from the Arabic, the Union of Islamic Courts), which replaced the defeated Al-Itihad Al-Islam.
As the name implies, it was a system of Sharia courts that spread in the country's settlements in the second half of the 1990-s, which later began to seize power in the territories and carry out military operations against competitors for power, and in the middle of the 2000s, declared their spread power across Somalia. At the same time, they were already accompanied by military success, mainly due to the lack of unity in the clan groupings opposing them. By the end of 2006, the Islamic Courts extended their influence almost throughout the country, with the exception of Somaliland and Puntland.
However, then Ethiopian troops played a decisive role with the support of aviation and US special forces that invaded Somalia and in the first half of 2007 managed to dislodge the Islamists from the main settlements. Then the aforementioned AMISOM mission took effect.
As for the Islamists, despite a series of military defeats, they have not gone away, united under the new name “Al-Shabab” and turning to the tactics of “mosquito bites,” as Western analysts call it. It consists in rejecting large-scale clashes and attacking weaker places, acts of terrorism against security forces and government organizations. The relative control of the government is organized only in large cities; in rural areas, Al-Shabab positions are very strong. The activity of military operations conducted by the Islamists, as well as the methods of their commission, is expanding, the number of casualties among the AMISOM contingent and among pro-government forces is growing. A common element has become combined attacks with the use of suicide bombers and the subsequent attack of armed groups on protected objects. In addition, propaganda work is being improved, which is carried out in the territories of neighboring countries in different languages, as a result of which the number of supporters is growing. Adaptation of Islamists to the Somali realities also contributes to propaganda success: in particular, the unleashed terror in Kenya is presented as a practical embodiment of the long-held dream of the Great Somalia, only under religious slogans and banners.
Measures opposed to Islamists by African neighbors are certainly effective, but insufficient and not fully adapted to changing conditions and tactics. Therefore, the Somali crisis is far from over. The danger posed by this country is still high. In addition, questions are being considered regarding the deployment of military contingents from European countries in order to stabilize the situation.
The causes of the situation prevailing in the Horn of Africa are multifaceted, they are due to history, ethnic features and an important strategic position, which made the region attractive to world powers in order to spread its influence. The result was a flood of his weapons and provoking conflicts.
However, in Africa there are states that show success in their development and demonstrate successful growth rates, including in recent years. There are many examples of the peaceful life of representatives of various religions in one state without manifestation of extremism and radicalism. And the main condition for this is not to impose Western values in the form of overthrowing the ruling regimes or imposing sanctions, but at least non-interference in the internal affairs of the countries of the Black Continent.