Will Somali Pirates Return if EU Stops Patrolling Soon?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 10/30/2013 05:13:00 PM
Ahoy mateys, it's back to the Gulf of Aden for us in this post. The collapse of a functioning government in Somalia led to a period when many turned to piracy as a lucrative livelihood in the absence of other viable sources of income. Americans--people who top the global list of ignoramuses about what's going on in the world--even focused some attention on the issue with the kidnap of Captain Richard Phillips of the MV Maersk Alabama. They even made a movie about it (just don't ask them where Maersk is headquartered since the average Yank probably can't find Denmark on the map, let alone Somalia.)

In any event, EU-led efforts to patrol these lawless seas eventually bore fruit, with piracy receding to far less alarming levels in the last year. With EU Navfor's mandate winding up in 2014, however, there is concern that the pirates will come back strong once the cats are away. Back in the UK, Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary John Spellar has voiced this very concern. (For non-Brits, a "shadow" minister is someone from the opposition whose portfolio is similar to the "real" minister's except s/he is obviously not in power.) From the industry publication Lloyd's List:
A senior UK official has urged the shipping industry to lobby to extend the mandate of EU Navfor’s Operation Atalanta beyond its 2014 mandate deadline.

The shadow foreign and commonwealth office minister John Spellar warned that “EU Navfor’s Operation Atalanta will be renegotiated in 2014 and it is not clear whether it will be maintained”.
Addressing the Security in Complex Environments conference in London, Mr Spellar revealed that politicians had complained that multiple forces patrolling the high-risk area duplicate each others’ efforts rather than complement each other. “There are voices in the back benches that question why we need UK co-operation when there is [North Atlantic Treaty Organisation] involvement,” he said.
Unsurprisingly, most shipping industry interests are lobbying for EU Navfor to stick around:
Mr Speller warned that some government departments are slow to react to changing circumstances and urged the shipping industry to lobby the government as soon as possible to extend Operation Atalanta. “It is important to get [government] engaged at the earliest possible stage,” he said.
A representative from Mitsui OSK Lines based in London said operators needed EU Navfor forces to stay in place. “If we lose that capability the pirates will come back. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
I think the chances are good that EU Navfor will gain an extended mandate in 2014. While the reduction in piracy is also due to a host of other factors alike more commercial vessels having armed guards and designating traffic zones where pirates are less likely to be successful, European patrolling is clearly valued by industry players. Moreover, I am not convinced that playing Britney Spears music [?!] will drive the evildoers away. 

Ops, I hope they don't do it again.