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The toll of piracy submitted by the US Navy

(BRUSSELS2) First official assessment of the multinational action in the Gulf of Aden, that drawn up by... the American military before the Armed Forces Committee of the US Congress. Assessment which includes not only the American action, strictly speaking, and the task forces with American “impulse” (CTF-150 and CTF-151), but also that carried out by the other fleets present (Russian, Indian, European in particular).

A rather mixed record: fewer successful attacks, but weakness in arrests and bringing them to justice.

Successful attacks. All efforts to counter hacker attacks to date have resulted in a “decline in successful attacks, from a peak of 64% in October to 17% in February”, according to State Department statistics. Currently, 6 ships are held hostage, compared to the 14 ships that were taken hostage towards the end of last year.

A turning point in the summer of 2008. According to Vice-Admiral Gortney – who commands the 5th US Fleet present in the Gulf – the situation became more critical in mid-August 2008. when a new clan of Somali pirates began attacking ships north of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden, increasing the number of attacks ». (NB: other information, other sources, also mention the appearance of pirates coming from the coast of Yemen).

Pirates arrested. “CTF-151, with the cooperation of other naval forces (*), apprehended nearly 250 pirates”, according to Gortney. Of these, 121 have been disarmed and released, 117 have been handed over for prosecution, and nine are awaiting a final decision (in fact they have been released). It should be noted that the Americans have signed an agreement with Kenya similar to the one just initialed by the European Union. And 7 pirates were handed over to the Kenyan authorities.

Equipment seized. " Pirates' abilities have been affected by coalition efforts“Explained Gortney giving an assessment of the equipment seized by the coalition and task force: 28 pirate ships seized or destroyed, 133 small arms, 28 rocket launchers, 51 grenade launchers, projectiles, and 21 ladders and grappling hooks. been confiscated”.

To go beyond of the arrest of pirates, a more global strategy for the region.

“We all know that the solution to the problem of piracy is on land” concluded Gortney before Congress. “Operations at sea –
currently being carried out by the maritime coalition – should give the international community time to discuss a long-term solution”
In the region.

The four US courses of action against piracy. In addition to the military approach, the US government is taking action on three other
fronts to fight against piracy. “Diplomacy, helping the shipping industry strengthen self-defense efforts, improving judicial capacity to pursue and punish pirates in the region, are all part of the strategy”, explained Stephen Mull, deputy assistant secretary for international security and arms control at the State Department.

Beyond piracy, a new regional framework. " By working together, I believe we have made good progress in the past only a few months. “, he continued. Corn " beyond arresting the pirates is not all. “I believe that this cooperation could form the basis of a new regional maritime security framework with regional states and external contributors”, he continued. “This new framework could include a range of topics that I believe would improve the security of the
region, such as our own security. »

To read the report completed by the US Department of Defense.

short comment

The European Union will undoubtedly have to be careful not to let Pax Americana spread in the region. When we observe how the EU is mentioned – that is to say never other than by “others”, “external contributors”, or included in a “maritime coalition”, there seems to be within the department of State or armed forces, certain difficulties in naming allies.

Either certain personalities (appointed under the old administration) are having difficulty getting up to speed with the new Obama administration, which has proclaimed, everywhere these days, that the European Union is a full partner. Either Hillary Clinton's declarations last week in Brussels, followed by the arrival of Vice-President Joe Biden, are nothing more than a… charm offensive, more subtle than that of the Bush administration but pursuing the same goal.

The European Union should not become a simple provider of troops and/or funding, without also having a say in defining the strategy, as with the NATO operation in Afghanistan...


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).