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Piracy in the Red Sea, hoax or reality? Doubt is allowed

(B2) We can ask ourselves the question of whether the recent resurgence of “piracy” in the Red Sea, noted almost everywhere, arises from a shared reality or psychosis, or from false alarms. In any case, this is what emerges from a latest information bulletin distributed by the European Union operations center Atalanta. It's a fact: in recent weeks we have noted an increase in the presence of small skiffs in the Bab El Mandeb Strait and the southern Red Sea. Between 7 and 15 skiffs with 2-3 people on board were spotted, depending on the
latest estimates. These ships sometimes carry out erratic maneuvers or approach merchant ships which could suggest pirate attacks. There are even reports of small arms fire into the air.

But even if piracy is not excluded, none of the reports received appear directly linked to piracy, note European maritime experts. Only one case was recorded during the year, such as a pirate attack in the Bab El Mandeb Strait. On the other hand, this area is historically
known to be used by smugglers (of all kinds) who use small, fast boats. Thus the number of skiffs used and the number of people on board are more reminiscent of smuggling (or fishing) activities than of actual piracy activities... This is perhaps important to point out. We do know that a certain number of alerts by merchant ships are false alarms. They perceive as a pirate ship what is neither more nor less a fishing boat, a bit fast (the same as those used by pirates).


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).