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|Superpowers Deploy Warships to Aden Gulf to Fight Piracy; Yemen Worried|
Moneer Al-Omari (YEMEN POST STAFF)
Article Date: November 10, 2008
Several warships and launches are deployed to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean under the pretext of fighting the Somali pirates and protecting commercial ships that pass by.
Piracy activities have long been a headache for international navigation in the Gulf of Aden, which is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes and connects Asia and Europe.
Ships and tankers sailing through the Indian Ocean, Red Sea and Bab Al-Mandab Strait, passes by the lawless Somalia, which has been without an effective central government for the last 17 years. This situation helped pirates to work freely off Somali shores and in the international waters.
The Kuala Lumpur-based International Maritime Bureau has recorded over 60 attacks by pirates during this year, the last of which was capturing a Ukrainian ship boarding heavy military hardware and tanks said to be shipped to the government of South Sudan or Yemen.
On October 17, the Indian government announced deploying a warship to the Gulf of Aden to protect its commercial ships, one month after Somali pirates had seized a commercial ship boarding 20 Indian sailors. Denmark and other countries in Europe have also deployed ships near Bab Al-Mandab Strait.
Similarly, Russia dispatched a warship to the pirate-controlled water off Somalia after Ukrainian Belize-flagged Faina boarding a crew of 21 people and a cargo that includes battlefield tanks and spare parts for armored vehicles as it was heading to the Kenyan seaport of Mombassa.
This came after North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had announced early October deploying seven warships to face the increased activities of Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
NATO's act was meant for protecting ships passing by Bab Al-Mandab Strait and observers hint that this gestures means that countries overlooking the Arab Sea and Gulf of Aden are incapable of preventing the terrorist activities of pirates, especially the troubled Somalia.
Such moves have alarmed the countries overlooking the Red and Arab Seas as well as the Indian Ocean, particularly Yemen which expressed its fears over the western presence in the area and considered the operations to be threatening to the Arab national security.
Several observers stress that protecting the commercial interests of these countries is not the only reason, as they seek to reinforce their presence in the region, particularly in the vital routes of world trade and oil supplies.
In return, Somali pirates always accuse European firms of dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast and claim they exploit the money they receive for cleaning up the waste.
Though their allegations are somewhat true, money remains the main objective of the pirates. The money pirates receive in ransom for releasing the captured ships is used for strengthening their command through purchasing more boats, weapons and other equipments used for piracy purposes.
Security experts reveal that having mutual cooperation between the countries of the region could help prevent the risky activities of pirates. This cooperation includes exchanging information, finance and building the capacities of countries directly involved with fighting pirates.
Pirates always use armed boats; however, they do not own powerful weapons as weapons they have only include RPJ and Kalashnikovs. They are well-trained on how to jump and climb the ships. Their boats also contain hooks and other equipments used for climbing and breaking into the targeted ships.
Most seized ships are commercial and the reason is that the crew of these ships are not allowed to possess or keep guns. This does not apply to Israel commercial ships because they consider themselves to be under constant threats.
Yemen and Piracy
According to coastguard officers, Yemen has sought to fight piracy and the illegal activities of pirates in its regional and international waters; however, its efforts have been successful because the country has limited resources and is incapable of building a well-trained coastguard force and purchasing developed equipments and hardware that make this task easy.
The country will soon host a regional center for fighting piracy through the collaboration with 20 countries and International Maritime Organization. The center will work for restricting piracy activities targeting ships off Yemen's coasts, especially in the international waters between Yemen and Somalia.
Coastguard officers revealed that plans for upgrading and developing coastguard forces were presented to the concerned authorities.
In this regard, Sana'a University Professor Abdullah Al-Faqih enquired about what the government has done with the surplus of oil revenues over the last two years, especially when oil prices increased markedly and hit record level this year.Al-Faqih pointed out that the Yemeni government has saved a large sum of money, mainly because it sold oil against prices much higher than what was set for the budget, demanding the government to allocate YR 2 billion for upgrading and equipping the coastguard forces.