Well, here's one way to put a positive spin on the current situation in the seas off the Horn of Africa: Rear Admiral Peter Hudson, operational commander of the European Union's Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) in the region, today told journalists in Kenya that the military efforts to deal with piracy off the Somali coast have been successful. Beneath the headline "Operation to fight piracy a success", Nairobi-based media outlet The Nation has the British Royal Navy officer referring to the fact that there have been no successful hijackings of vessel in the Gulf of Aden since the end of July. The last officially reported seizure in the Gulf was the Turkish-owned cargo ship MV Horizon-1, captured on July 8 and released by Somali pirates on October 5, after a ransom reported to be at least $1.5 million was paid.
RAdm Hudson went on to say that over 50 vessels and 300,000 tonnes of food have been safely escorted through the Gulf by naval forces. Part of the EU NAVFOR's mandate is to protect humanitarian aid shipments intended to help alleviate the situation ashore in Somalia.
While the British commander's perspectives might be technically correct in terms of the decrease in successful pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden/Red Sea waters, it seems a bit early to categorize the broader situation in the region in the same way. Not that the admiral is saying so verbatim in the report, and perhaps some of the blame for this positive spin comes from the writer of the post getting carried away, with an opening line that goes, "The military operation targeting piracy off the Somali coast has been termed a success."
But coming within days of the seizure of the supertanker Maran Centaurus and other recent attacks - successful ones, no less - off the eastern coast of Somalia, it does seem a tad odd to hype the situation in the north while pirate operations have clearly been shifted into the western Indian Ocean. Piracy off Somalia is a bigger problem than just the Gulf of Aden. Anyone remember a certain (premature) "Mission Accomplished" incident?