If ever a place was in need of a bit of good fortune and a helping hand it is Somalia.
Wracked by decades of internecine conflict and making more headlines in recent years through its pirate bases and notorious Al Shabaab (The Youth) terrorist group, the political and social power brokers have a long way to go before the land mass can be considered integral and secure. Whether or not the upcoming presidential elections later this month will have any positive effect is yet to be determined.
The news on 12 December that the European Council had extended the mandate of its two missions in Somalia, the civilian mission of capacity building EUCAP and the military training mission EUTM, both until 31 December 2018, will probably be welcomed.
Additionally, the Council renamed the capacity building mission from EUCAP Nestor to EUCAP Somalia. According to the Council, the mission objective is to ‘assist this country in strengthening its maritime security capacity, so that maritime law is enforced more effectively’. The EU military mission contributes directly to the capacity building of Somali National Army.
Despite the progress there are still regular attacks on vital commercial and industrial infrastructure, such as at the Port of Mogadishu on Sunday, which left dozens dead and injured.
And despite the reduction in the size of the high risk area, a corridor of water in the Gulf of Aden traditionally associated with piracy threats occasional attacks are still being reported. NATO will end its counter-piracy mission to the region with assets redistributed among its existing maritime security operations.
While the EU’s counter-piracy force, otherwise known as EUNavfor, will opt to extend its mandate (one of its key roles is escorting World Food Programme ships into Mogadishu) there is still a vast lack of indigenous capability in Somalia to patrol its own seas and secure coastal facilities.
Reports had suggested that some GCC states, including the Sultanate of Oman, were in discussion with agencies such as the UNODC to provide support and training to the Somali coast guard although it is not known how far along such programmes are.
Lawlessness on land however cannot be solved at sea as – just look at Libya.