Somali pirates suffered some notable defeats in a week that also highlighted the capacity of Somali forces to contribute to counter-piracy operations. However, many of the factors that motivate piracy — including foreign illegal fishing, availability of weapons, perceived corruption over foreign fishing licenses, and unemployment — still need to be addressed.
- Somali pirates briefly hijacked the Tuvalu-flagged OS 35 near the Socotra Islands before Indian and Chinese navy elements rescued the crew, who evaded abduction from pirates by locking themselves in a safe room.
- Somali forces from Galmudug region rescued Indian crew members and arrested four pirates associated with the seizure of the Al Khausar vessel. The hostages were freed in an operation on land near Ceel Huur after the pirates fled the vessel with the crew.
While the Somalia National Army celebrated its 57th anniversary this week, al-Shabaab promised to “double” its response to the new government, which has struggled to catalyze offensive operations against the group. Al-Shabaab tried to fulfill its promise by targeting senior military officials in a car bomb in the capital — unsurprisingly contributing to its death toll of innocent civilians. Another bomber detonated his suicide vest inside an army training camp in Mogadishu, killing at least three more people.
Perhaps one benefit to the stagnation of government efforts to take areas from al-Shabaab is that military action often displaces populations, and local communities still dealing with drought do not need further causes of dislocation.
Future offensive operations probably should reduce causes of a humanitarian fallout, including ongoing al-Shabaab blockades of assistance to government-controlled towns, by securing main roads and ensuring quick-impact projects deliver services to the community.
On their part, Somali special forces known as Danab are doing their part to address the humanitarian crisis, as they distributed aid to drought-affected communities in Wanlaweyn district, according to a YouTube post this week.
Meanwhile in Tanzania…
Tanzanian officials have expressed concerns about unidentified assailants who have killed at least nine officials and several police officers since last October, particularly in the Kibiti and Rufiji coastal districts. Some officials have quit out of fear of being targeted next.
Equally interesting, assailants have left threatening anonymous messages at crime scenes about retaliating against police injustices. If these messages reveal the genuine motive, they show a broader political goal to the attacks that comprise part of the definition of what constitutes terrorism.
This week, eight police were killed in an ambush in Kibiti district and made off with firearms and ammunition. Police killed four of the suspected gunmen in a follow-up operation on Friday. These recent events bear a resemblance to 2015, when Tanzanian security forces apprehended 38 members of suspected terror cell that had similarly targeted law enforcement.
The military has been deployed to support police operations to stop the attackers, which have been supported by locals, according to news network CGTN.
Tanzanian Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba denied to a Turkish news organization that these attacks were terrorism-related, and one of the police officers injured in the recent Kibiti attack called it a “normal robbery incident“. However, there have been indications since 2015, including the formation of small terror cells, that terrorism remains as a potential threat.
Other notable reads:
- ON SECURITY DYNAMICS IN LAMU: Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation detailed new efforts to carry out development projects in Lamu County, Kenya since many facilities have been destroyed in al-Shabaab attacks in the last three years. Relatedly, a new Saferworld organization report argues “counter-terror and countering violent extremism efforts have not solved Lamu’s problems.” It seeks “fresh thinking to overcome the conflict risks that lie ahead [as] terror attacks and the response to them in Lamu are revealing of broader dynamics in Kenya, and hold important lessons for the way the US, UK and others engage with terrorism and conflict.” Full Report
- ON IMPROVING DROUGHT POLICY IN SOMALIA: Mogadishu-based think tank Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS) provides an analysis of drought conditions in Somalia and makes recommendations on how to address the crisis. HIPS advises for investment in developing localized water storage facilities, improving coordination of assistance, and ensuring aid reaches rural areas that are outside the media spotlight. Full Report.
Categories: Around the Horn