Monday, December 22, 2008

UN says: "Yemen Primary Supplier of Weapons to Somalia" (and to pirates, too!)

As Jane posts here, the UN reports that "Yemen Primary Supplier of Weapons to Somalia". Nice. Got a major trade route between the hammer and an anvil, as it were, 'twixt Yemen and Somalia.

What sorts of weapons? You can read the report your very own self here (pdf), but Jane has kindly eased your burden:
On 17 August in Hargeisa, the Monitoring Group inspected a shipment of ammunition seized by the Somaliland authorities on 15 April 2008 in Burao. The ammunition came from Yemen and were destined to ONLF in Ethiopia. It consisted of 101 anti-tank mines, 100 hand grenades, 170 rocket-propelled grenade-7 rounds, and 170 boxes of 7.62 mm ammunition, each containing 440 rounds. The anti-tank mines were packed in sacks originally for rice from a company based in Sana’a and an investigation by the Somaliland authorities determined that the weapons had been shipped from Yemen.
262. Despite the haemorrhaging of the Transitional Federal Government security
sector, there remains a steady demand for arms and ammunition from commercial
arms markets, chiefly in Yemen. The inability of the Government of Yemen to stem
the flow of weapons across the Gulf of Aden has long been, and is likely to remain,
a key obstacle to the restoration of peace and security to Somalia.
263. Curbing the flow of Yemeni weapons to Somalia will require a package of robust political pressures and incentives, capacity-building programmes for coast guards around the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, and direct naval action to interdict arms trafficking.
There are other gems to be mined from the report:
122. Piracy in Somali waters has rapidly evolved over the past 12 months from a domestic nuisance, aimed mainly at illegal fishing vessels, into a sophisticated and well-organized industry whose dramatic expansion poses a growing threat to international shipping. The extraordinarily lucrative nature of piracy has transformed rag-tag, ocean-going militias into well-resourced, efficient and heavily armed syndicates employing hundreds of people in north-eastern and central Somalia. Some of these groups now rival or surpass established Somali authorities in terms of their military capabilities and resource bases. The acquisition of arms, ammunition and equipment to sustain the growth of these maritime militias almost certainly involves violations of the arms embargo.

123. International response to the Somali piracy phenomenon include Security
Council resolutions 1816 (2008) and 1838 (2008), which permit States interested in
the security of maritime activities to use all necessary means in the fight against
piracy in Somali waters, the establishment of the Maritime Security Patrol Area by
the multinational naval Combined Task Force 150 in the Gulf of Aden, and the
European Union NAVCO anti-piracy initiative. The Monitoring Group believes that
some leading figures in piracy syndicates are responsible for arms embargo
violations and should be considered for targeted sanctions imposed by Security
Council resolution 1844 of 20 November 2008.

124. Piracy and robbery at sea are not new to Somali waters, but they have acquired
unprecedented dimensions in 2008. From just a few dozen pirates in 2006, their
total numbers are now estimated at between 1,000 and 1,500, with approximately 60
small boats at their disposal.17 The phenomenal growth of this criminal enterprise
merits close examination.

125. The most prominent pirate militias today have their roots in the fishing
communities of the Somali coast, especially in north-eastern and central Somalia.
Over the past 18 years of conflict and absence of effective central Government, the
ecology and economy of these areas have been adversely affected by years of illicit
overfishing by foreign vessels and the dumping of toxic waste into Somali territorial
waters. Genuine economic hardship, whether directly related to these factors or not,
and a sense of grievance against foreign exploitation of Somalia’s maritime
resources, not only inspire many pirates, but also serve to legitimize their activities in the eyes of their communities.

126. Targets for piracy are not lacking. The Horn of Africa straddles an important
sea route for vessels of all kinds, from the Mediterranean Sea, via the Suez Canal
and the Red Sea, and through the Gulf of Aden to the Indian Ocean. The narrowness
of the Gulf of Aden, which separates Somalia and Yemen by 170 nautical miles at its
widest point and as narrow as 100 nautical miles at other points, mean that all traffic must pass within striking distance of the Somali coast, and many attacks by Somali pirates actually take place in Yemeni waters. An estimated 30,000 vessels pass through these sea lanes every year.

127. The high rewards for piracy — ransom payments are often in the millions of
dollars — and the lack of accountability have also contributed to its rapid growth.
Puntland’s security sector is weak and central Somalia has no capacity for law
enforcement at all. The total Puntland budget for 2008 is only about 20 per cent of
projected piracy revenues for over the same period, suggesting a seriously unequal
contest. Most foreign Governments are unable to arrest and prosecute pirates
because of jurisdictional barriers. In sum, it has become a low-risk activity with
high returns.

128. The costs of piracy for Somalia and the international community have been
significant. Lloyd’s List, the maritime industry newspaper, forecasts that ransom
payments this year will exceed $50 million, and insurance premiums for commercial
shipping in the Gulf of Aden have increased tenfold over the course of the past year.

129. As a result, the activities of Somalia’s maritime militias threaten the delivery
of humanitarian assistance at a time when an estimated 2.5 million Somalis require
food aid, and are driving up the costs of commercial imports of foodstuffs and other

130. The situation has become so serious that major shipping companies are
currently negotiating with charterers to avoid transiting the Gulf of Aden and the
Red Sea/Suez Canal altogether and instead redirecting their ships via the Cape of
Good Hope. Such measures may provide only temporary respite: according to
Robert Davies, a kidnap and ransom underwriter at Hiscox Insurance Company
Limited (Lloyd’s insurer), “the success of the pirates off Somalia is also a key factor behind the rise in attacks elsewhere, in areas such as Nigeria and South America”.18
131. Somalia maritime militias are profoundly anchored in the coastal communities
of north-eastern and central Somalia, and their organization reflects Somali clan-based social structure. In contrast to media reports that portray the pirates as
professional, tightly organized and well-trained organizations, they are for the most
part loosely organized and poorly trained, and their membership is fluid. Their
strengths are the depth of their motivation, and their adherence to a common code of
conduct, or xeer.

132. Broadly speaking, there are currently two main networks: one based in
Puntland (north-eastern Somalia) comprising mainly members of the Majerteen
clan, and one based in central Somalia, consisting primarily of members of the
Habar Gidir clan. The most important pirate group in Puntland is based in Eyl
district, which is inhabited mainly by the Isse Mohamud sub-clan, but other groups
also operate from Bossaso, Aluula, Haafun, Bayla, Qandala, Bargaal and Gara’ad.19
The central Somalia piracy network operates from Harardheere district, as it is
dominated by the Saleebaan sub-clan of the Habar Gidir. Involvement in piracy
activities, however, extends far beyond these sub-clans. To a certain extent the two
networks overlap and cooperate.

133. The NATO Shipping Centre describes piracy operations in the following
(a) The Gulf of Aden and Mogadishu Pirate Attack Zones (PAZ): Over 60
vessels have been attacked in these two areas in 2008. These zones are served by
“mother ships” based in Bossaso and Mogadishu in Somalia, and Al Mukallah and
Al Shishr in Yemen;
(b) The Eyl and Hobyo Ransom Area (RA): ships seized in the Gulf of Aden
and Indian Ocean are anchored near Eyl and Hobyo. Onshore support networks keep
the pirates and hostages supplied with food, water and qaad, pending ransom
payment and release;
(c) The Harardheere Pirate Base: this base is largely under the control of the
Suleiman/Habar clan linked to piracy and also contains landing points notorious for
arms smuggling activities;
(d) Aluula Pirate Refuge Port: Aluula is sometimes a first port of call and
refuge for pirates with vessels seized from the Gulf of Aden. Pirates heading for the
main pirate home port bases in Eyl, Hobyo and Harardheere use this port for
resupply. Smaller yachts are brought here and the crews taken ashore to be held for
ransom. Aluula is one of the few coastal villages in this area with a relatively good
flat dirt airstrip.

134. The evolution of the Puntland and central Somalia piracy networks owes much
to the relationships between a small number of key figures. The Monitoring Group
has already described the involvement in piracy of Garaad Mohamud Mohamed and
Mohamed Abdi Hassan “Afweyne”, both leaders of the central Somalia network
based in Harardheere.20 Information received by the Monitoring Group indicates
that they were joined in 2005 by Farah Hirsi Kulan “Boyah”, a long-term
acquaintance, and perpetrated several acts of piracy together.

135. Their activities were interrupted in 2007 by a clash between their respective
militias, which resulted in a number of deaths, and Boyah’s group returned to
Puntland, where it established a separate network. In early 2008 the two groups
were reconciled and resumed their partnership, with Eyl as the main base of
operations. Monitoring Group sources, as well as NGO reports, identify Boyah as a
principal organizer and financier of pirate activities.

136. In many respects, the organization of piracy operations is guided more by the
principles of private enterprise than military strategy and planning. Financiers,
including Boyah and a number of other prominent business and political figures
with fisheries assets, advance the seed money for the maritime militias to function.
Typically they provide the boats, fuel, arms and ammunition, communications
equipment and the salaries of the pirates, in order that they scout and seize vessels.Increasingly, these advance teams appear to be benefiting from intelligence provided by contacts who monitor major ports in neighbouring countries.

137. Pirates are also increasingly resorting to the use of “mother ships” in order to
extend the range and endurance of their operations. Some vessels (particularly
fishing vessels) have been hijacked with the sole intention of being used as mother
ships. For instance, the attack on the French luxury yacht, Le Ponant on 4 April
2008, was preceded by the hijacking of the Russian made trawler, FV Burum Ocean,
some 57 nautical miles south of the Yemen coast. The trawler was reportedly taken
to Aluula Puntland, refuelled and used as a mother ship to attack the Le Ponant and
later abandoned. In other cases, such as the MT Yenegoa Ocean, hijacked on
4 August 2008, vessels whose owners are unable to meet ransom demands are used
as mother ships until ransom is paid. According to the NATO Shipping Centre’s
description of piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, mother ship supply ports exist
at Al Mukallah and Al Shishr, Sayhut, Nishtun and Al Ghaydah on the Yemeni coast
and Bossaso, Aluula and Mogadishu on the Somali coast.

138. Whether from mother ships or from the shore, attacks are usually conducted
with three or four fibreglass speedboats equipped with powerful outboard engines,
each carrying four to eight pirates. Arms seized by the Danish naval ship Absalom
on 19 September 2008 provide a typical sample of the weapons employed by pirate
teams: Kalashnikov assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenade-7V launchers and extra
grenades, Tokarev TT-33/7.62 mm pistols, a French LRAC F1/89 mm anti-tank
rocket launcher, M76 rifles, and extra magazines. The pirates were also in
possession of mobile phones, a GPS, and extra fuel tanks. Other equipment
routinely carried by pirates include small boat radars that help them to detect
targets, particularly at night, and to keep track of the vessel traffic around them,
high-power binoculars, grappling hooks and telescopic aluminium ladders.

139. The successful seizure of a vessel marks a new phase in a piracy operation.
The first pirate to physically board the ship may “claim” it in the name of his
(usually clan-based) militia group, and is rewarded with a special share of the
ransom or — in some cases — a Land Cruiser. If they have not done so already, the
financier must identify a sponsor (or team of sponsors) who will underwrite the
costs of the operation in exchange for a share of the ransom. Once this is achieved,
the financier directs the captured vessel to a “refuge” port, where his ground team
can ensure provisions and local protection pending payment of ransom. The team
may also include negotiators with foreign language skills, local officials and elders. Eventually, a host of other actors also become associated with the operation: senior government officials who provide political cover and protection, money launderers who help to transfer ransom payments or exchange unwanted currency notes (i.e. pre-2000 series United States dollars), and other entrepreneurs seeking to cash in on a windfall.21

140. Ransom payments are now commonly delivered directly to the pirates on
board the captured ship. Accounts of the distribution formula vary, but a source
close to the Eyl network informed the Monitoring Group that the breakdown is
typically as follows:
Typical distribution of ransom payments:
Maritime militia 30 per cent Distributed equally between all members,
although the first pirate to board a ship receives a double share or a vehicle. Pirates who fight other pirates must pay a fine. Compensation is paid to the family of any pirate killed during the operation.

Ground militia 10 per cent

Local community 10 per cent Elders, local officials, visitors, and for
hospitality for guests and associates of the pirates

Financier 20 per cent The financier usually shares his earnings with
other financiers and political allies.

Sponsor 30 per cent

141. Allegations of complicity in piracy activities by members of the Puntland
administration are commonplace and well substantiated. Puntland President Adde
Musa told the Monitoring Group that he has sacked several officials, including
Mohamed Haji Aden, a Deputy Chief of Police, for involvement in piracy. On
14 October 2008, in an interview with a local radio station, the Mayor of Eyl,
Abdullahi Said Aw-Yusuf (an official with extensive first-hand knowledge of pirate
operations) alleged that ministers and senior police officials of the Puntland administration were complicit in the surge in piracy. The Monitoring Group has independently received credible allegations concerning the involvement of a number of key figures in the Puntland administration, including several ministers, which it is continuing to investigate.

142. In late 2008, the Puntland authorities appeared to be taking more aggressive steps to deal with piracy. President Adde Musa has told the Monitoring Group that he is actively seeking assistance in building the capacity of the Puntland Coast Guard. The Puntland security forces have conducted at least two operations in recent months to free hijacked ships. On 18 September 2008, two pirates were arrested on a hijacked yacht off Las Qoray, which had weapons and equipment used to hijack vessels, and on 14 October 2008, Puntland forces again succeeded in freeing MV Awail. But the determination of the Puntland administration to confront pirates
appears to be selective, and the Monitoring Group remains convinced that a number of senior officials, including prominent Ministers, have been corrupted.

143. Not surprisingly, there appears to be an intersection between piracy and other
criminal activities, such as arms trafficking and human trafficking, both of which
involve the movement of small craft across the Gulf of Aden. One sub-group of the
Puntland network, based in the Bari region, allegedly uses the same boats employed
for piracy to move refugees and economic migrants from Somalia to Yemen,
bringing arms and ammunition on the return journey.

144. Likewise, members of the Harardheere group have been linked to trafficking
of arms from Yemen to Harardheere and Hobyo, which have long been two of the
main points of entry for arms shipments destined for armed opposition groups in
both Somalia and Ethiopia. Numerous reports received by the Monitoring Group
link Yusuf Mohamed Siyaad “Indha’adde”, military chief of the ARS/Asmara
faction, to the activities of the central Somalia pirate network, to arms imports
through Hobyo and Harardheere, and to the kidnapping of foreigners for ransom
(see paras. 145-147 below).

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