US-backed forces of the Somalia Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM enter the town of Wanlaweyn. The Horn of Africa nation is being occupied by imperialism utilizing proxy forces from the region., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)
UAE Hopes to Build Capacity for Somalia
11 SEPTEMBER 2013
While the international community and navies have succeeded in bringing down Somali maritime piracy, problems on land remain. Al Shabab militants are striking at will as shown by their attempt on the life of the president of that country last week and the killing of 15 innocents recently.
The fledgling government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud requires long-term support to rebuild the nation still struggling to find its feet after decades of civil war.
A good start was made at last year's conference where, led by the efforts of the UAE, the leaders of Somalia and breakaway Somaliland agreed to begin stalled negotiations after 20 years.
At the third counter-piracy conference starting in Dubai today, the UAE and other regional countries hope to build capacity and foster long-term development in the Horn of Africa.
"Central to the UAE's counter-piracy strategy is the recognition that the capability and capacity of countries in the region to combat piracy are varied and at different stages of development.
Determining specific gaps thus allows the UAE to target assistance where it can have the greatest impact, thereby advancing regional partners' security and stability," said Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan in a statement.
The plan is to help countries like Somalia which are affected by civil strife to develop their own counter-piracy capability, strengthen their rule of law, and protect their sovereignty and territory against the scourge of maritime piracy, said the minister.
He said the UAE had strengthened its military's maritime security capability, engaged and trained private industry on best practices in areas such as port security, and used the legal system as a tool for prosecuting and deterring piracy-related offences.
"The recent reduction in piracy in the Indian Ocean region is the result of exactly these kind of strategic, focused and multi-disciplinary approaches that include security operations, investments in economic and social development, humanitarian assistance, and capacity building for local security forces and legal systems," Shaikh Abdullah said.
Credit is due to international naval patrols: Eunavfor, Nato Operation Ocean Shield, and CTF-151, as well as efforts by China, India, Japan and South Korea, which curbed the phenomenon, but Oceans Beyond Piracy, a think-thank, said their mandates would expire in 2014 and gains could be reversed if the global community dropped the ball on Somalia.
"It is vital that the international community continues to engage with the government in Mogadishu to provide them assistance and support. It is only when the conditions ashore become stable and there is commerce and employment, that piracy will cease to be a threat to ships at sea," Pottengal Mukundan of the International Maritime Bureau said from London. Maritime forces like the Eunavfor continue to engage with the Somalis. Last week, it hosted the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, onboard the Dutch Eunavfor flagship, HNLMS Johan de Witt.The Somali officials met the EU's Special Envoy to Somalia, Michele Cervone d'Urso; the EU Naval Force Operation Commander, Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant; and the Head of Mission of EU Capacity Building Mission (EUCAP) Nestor, Etienne de Poncins.
The Dubai counter-piracy conference will be followed by the 'New Deal for Somalia' summit in Brussels on September 16 where countries will endorse a 'Compact' between Somalia and the international community that identifies the key political, security and socio-economic priorities.
"Somalia welcomes cooperation with the EU to improve maritime security as part of the broader engagement of the EU in Somalia. Maritime cooperation will have important effect on the stabilisation and development of coastal areas in my country," said President Mohamud in a statement.
The two-day conference in Dubai is jointly convened by the UAE Ministry Foreign Affairs, global ports operator DP World and Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC).
The organisers said 500 participants comprising foreign ministers, senior government officials, military officers, executives of global maritime-sector companies, and leading experts are expected to attend.
DP World called on the private sector to identify mechanisms to further create an environment for sustainable development of Somalia's emerging economy and address the root causes of maritime piracy.