Military presence in the Gulf of Aden is not a solution [Archives:2008/1219/Opinion]

December 25 2008

By: Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Dali
We don't know what the objective of the presence of internal marine forces in the Gulf of Aden is. We don't know whether the troops came to fight the phenomenon of sea piracy in the gulf or have other purposes.

If the purpose of the presence of international marine forces is to fight piracy in the sea, which already starts from the Somali territory, such a purpose may not be achieved, provided that the relation between this military presence and the negative phenomenon (piracy) resembles that of an elephant chasing a rat.

In addition, any painkillers provided for symptoms of the disease are impossible to treat the real causes of the disease. In other words, if such an excessive presence of international marine troops has other invisible motives, be they regional or international, these motives will be uncovered by the days to come while the problem will remain unsolved.

Remarkably, the rapid growth of piracy acts and development of its tactics, which pirates first employed to take control of tourist yachts until they hijacked giant oil tankers, was not expected to look like this.

Even worse, the piracy operations spread over large distances in the Indian Ocean, thus targeting super tankers, which have been impossible for one to identify except through the satellite technology.

The fact raises a critical question about who provides pirates with such accurate information.

Nevertheless, the international community in general and the regional community in particular are primarily accountable for the dire situations in Somalia and its negative consequences such as the poor living standards of Somali citizens, killings, civil wars, mass exodus of Somalis to neighboring states, and death of hundreds of men, women and children in the Gulf of Aden before reaching the Yemeni shores. The tragic situations of Somalis continue to worsen before eyes of the international community that doesn't react to what happens.

As a result of indifference on the part of international community toward what happens to the Somali people, the phenomenon of piracy in the Somali coast emerged.

With my appreciation to all efforts expended with the intention of addressing tragic conditions of Somali people in and outside their country, those efforts did nothing for the war-ravaged nation.

Piracy fighting efforts resemble painkillers

Several battleships entrenched in front of Somali shores, as well as in international navigation routes in the Gulf of Aden in order to fight piracy, however, they eventually appeared to be like painkillers, not a real medicine for the source of the problem (the Somali crisis).

The real effort to solve other problems following from the main problem must shift to tackling the Somali turmoil. The international community is responsible for this in order to help Somali people reach an agreement on forming a national unity government following a constructive dialogue to involve all the Somali factions without any exception.

Before such a comprehensive dialogue begins, those involved must stop the civil fighting and pull foreign troops out of the Somali land.

The international community is also required to take a true decision and show a serious will to solve the Somali turmoil, which began to diverge into various directions, thereby leaving negative impacts on the regional situations and international navigation in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea.

Otherwise, the currently provided painkillers will only help the Somali turmoil continue worsening and the surrounding region lose its security and stability.

Source: Al-Thawri Weekly