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Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, et al, cf Yemen)
Topic: Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, et al, cf Yemen) (Read 2621 times)
Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, et al, cf Yemen)
November 18, 2008, 03:51:53 PM »
Oil Tankers and Pirates on the Open Sea
Stratfor Today » November 18, 2008 | 0006 GMT
KHALED FAZAA/AFP/Getty Images
The Japanese tanker Takayama, which was targeted by pirates in April 2008Summary
The U.S. Fifth Fleet announced Nov. 17 that pirates have hijacked the Sirius Star, an oil tanker en route from Saudi Arabia to the United States. Such a hijacking is very difficult and would indicate a significant increase in tactical capabilities of pirates. Not only is the ship massive and difficult to board, it also was far out at sea and hard to get to. The tanker was also carrying $100 million worth of crude, which could result in a very handsome ransom for the pirates — that is, if U.S. or other naval forces on patrol in the area don’t try to recapture the vessel.
The Sirius Star, a United Arab Emirates-owned Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), was hijacked Nov. 15 by pirates, probably Somalians, 520 miles southeast of Mombassa, Kenya. The ship, which is 360 yards long and sits about 11 yards above the water line, was carrying 2 million barrels of oil worth $100 million for delivery to the United States. It is now reported to be en route to Eyl, in the Puntland region of Somalia, where up to 11 other ships are being held while ransoms are negotiated. The largest ship ever hijacked, the Sirius Star will not be able to dock at Eyl, but the hijackers will do their best to hold on to it and demand a ransom for its return.
This is not the first time that pirates have targeted a tanker. In April, an attempt was made on the Takayama, a Japanese tanker, but it failed even though the pirates used rocket propelled grenades to try to intimidate the ship’s captain into letting them aboard. These scare tactics have typically been successful on small fishing boats or yachts, but VLCCs are high enough off of the water to repel pirate attacks if the pirates are spotted in time. Pirates face a disadvantage when they attempt to scale the face of a tanker because the crew can more easily disrupt their attempts with water hoses or even weapons. However, Somalian pirates are heavily armed and more practiced with their weapons than the typical tanker crew.
The location of this hijacking is far outside the range in which pirates are considered a threat. The world’s most active waters for piracy are in the Gulf of Aden, located along Somalia’s northern coast, south of Yemen. But the Nov. 16 attack was much farther south, closer to Kenya and Tanzania than Yemen. It was also much farther off shore than most pirate attacks, which typically poses a challenge because the boats are limited to how much fuel they can carry. Given pirates’ emerging new tactics and technologies — using “mother ships” to transport smaller attack boats out to sea, global positioning systems, satellite phones — it should be expected that the range of pirate activity will increase.
It is also possible that the Sirius Star, outside the traditional range of pirate attacks, had let down her guard. Given the location of the hijacking, it is likely that the pirates were trolling outside of their traditional waters as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and other NATO countries (as well as Russia) step up patrols and escorts in the Gulf of Aden. By expanding their range, pirates have managed to continue their operations despite increased policing of the gulf. This could, in turn, increase the range of antipiracy efforts that are currently constrained to the gulf and Somalian waters.
Of course, the pirates would be happy to return the ship for the right amount of money. The highest ransom reportedly collected by Somalian pirates was $3 million, and pirates are currently asking for $20 million to release the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship that was delivering tanks and light arms to Kenya.
Now that the Sirius Star is captured, it will be interesting to see how the international naval contingent patrolling the waters of Somalia will respond. Stratfor has contended that piracy is being made easy and profitable by a lack of international interest in the welfare of ocean-going vessels, since most that have been hijacked belong to countries that lack the capability to take them back by force. But the United States certainly has an interest in the Sirius Star — and the capability to recapture the ship. And French special forces have demonstrated that if French citizens are in harm’s way, as they were when the Le Ponant was hijacked April 4 in the Gulf of Aden, it is possible to take back a ship by force. Britain also has an interest in Sirius Star — two of its 25 crewmembers are British
— as well as the capability to deploy special forces to capture a VLCC.
Nevertheless, taking down a ship is very risky — especially such a large ship in hostile territory. If no country is willing or able to retake the Sirius Star, Vela International, the ship’s owner, may find itself in ransom negotiations for the ship’s cargo and crew. This kind of brazen hijacking will give the United States, Britain and other countries with a naval units operating off the coast of Somalia a chance to prove how committed they are to stopping piracy.
Re: Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, et al, cf Yemen)
Reply #1 on:
November 18, 2008, 04:19:07 PM »
Test run, or part of an AQ operation rather than ordinary piracy?
Reply #2 on:
November 19, 2008, 08:46:21 AM »
On Saturday, off the coast of East Africa, pirates seized their largest catch ever: a giant Saudi-owned oil tanker called the Sirius Star. The brazen attack came on the heels of the capture of a Ukrainian vessel (loaded with armaments destined for Kenya) by Somali pirates in September. Humanitarian food shipments into Somalia have had naval escort for nearly a year -- evidence of how much the security of sea-lanes has eroded. Media reports suggest that Somali pirates have already attacked more than 80 ships in 2008.
Chad CroweThese are unprecedented and dangerous developments. Suppressing piracy and the slave trade, accomplished by the last quarter of the 19th century, were among mankind's great civilizing achievements. These were brought about by major maritime powers such as Great Britain and the United States. Indeed, in the American republic's earliest days, President Jefferson dispatched the infant U.S. Navy to confront the Barbary pirates, both on shore and at sea.
By the 1970s, as a part of a growing chaos in parts of Africa and Asia, incidents of piracy began to pick up. But it was not until the 21st century that piracy has experienced a meteoric rise, with the number of attacks increasing by double-digit rates per year. Last year, according to the International Maritime Bureau, 263 actual and attempted pirate attacks took place. Large maritime areas have now become known as pirate heavens, where mariners can expect to be routinely molested. The Victorian self-confidence that drove pirates from the seas is gone.
Twenty-first century economics being what they are, the pirates have been more interested in the payment of ransom by anxious owners and insurers than in the vessels or their cargoes. Piracy is nonetheless a vicious and violent activity that exposes the world's merchant mariners to additional risk of death or injury. Even more fundamentally, the dramatic surge in piracy is, like terrorism, part of a broad challenge to civilization and international order.
Experience -- especially that of colonial America -- suggests that a few sporadic antipirate efforts will not be enough to solve the problem. Only a dedicated naval campaign, along with a determined effort to close the pirates' safe havens, will succeed in sending piracy back to the history books.
There has been some progress on this front. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has dispatched a formidable multinational force -- including British, Italian and Greek ships -- to join the American, French, Canadian and Danish vessels already cruising off Somalia's vast coastline. France has also aggressively pursued pirates, freeing captured vessels and hostages.
Capturing pirates is not the critical problem. Rather, the issue is how to handle those in captivity. Traditionally, pirates fell within that category of illegitimate hostiles that once included slave traders, brigands on the roads and, in wartime, unprivileged or "unlawful" enemy combatants. As Judge Nicholas Trott, presiding over a pirate trial, explained in 1718: "It is lawful for any one that takes them, if they cannot with safety to themselves bring them under some government to be tried, to put them to death." This law, of course, has changed since the 18th century. Pirates, brigands and unlawful combatants must now be tried before they can be punished.
One solution would be for the capturing state to press charges based on the much misunderstood and abused principle of "universal" jurisdiction. This is the notion that any state may criminalize and punish conduct that violates certain accepted international-law norms. Although its application in most circumstances is dubious -- there is very little actual state practice supporting the right of one state to punish the nationals of a second for offenses against the citizens of a third -- piracy is one area where a strong case for universal jurisdiction can be made (if only because piratical activities often take place on the high seas, beyond any state's territorial jurisdiction).
Moreover, given the nature of naval operations, discerning who is a pirate is usually a much easier task than separating Taliban and al Qaeda members from innocent bystanders. This fact, all things being equal, should make the task of prosecuting captured pirates an easier process, both from a legal and public-relations perspective.
key problem is that America's NATO allies have effectively abandoned the historical legal rules permitting irregular fighters to be tried in special military courts (or, in the case of pirates, admiralty courts) in favor of a straightforward criminal-justice model. Although piracy is certainly a criminal offense, treating it like bank robbery or an ordinary murder case presents certain problems for Western states.
To begin with, common criminals cannot be targeted with military force. There are other issues as well. Last April the British Foreign Office reportedly warned the Royal Navy not to detain pirates, since this might violate their "human rights" and could even lead to claims of asylum in Britain. Turning the captives over to Somali authorities is also problematic -- since they might face the head- and hand-chopping rigors of Shariah law. Similar considerations have confounded U.S. government officials in their discussions of how to confront this new problem of an old terror at sea.
In the last few years, France determined to return its pirate prisoners to Somalia based on assurances of humanitarian treatment. The U.S. has, of course, rendered terror prisoners to foreign governments based on similar assurances, and only time will tell whether they are genuine. An equally important question is whether the transfer of captured pirates to local authorities will result in prosecution at all. In many areas, local governments may be subject to corruption or intimidation by strong pirate gangs.
One thing is certain: As in the war on terror, the new campaign against piracy will test the mettle of Western governments. It will also require them to balance the rights of lawbreakers against the indisputable rights of the law-abiding to not live their lives in danger and fear.
Messrs. Rivkin and Casey are Washington, D.C., lawyers who served in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
The latest ship to fall into the hands of pirates off the coast of northern Africa is a Hong Kong-registered cargo vessel captured yesterday in the Gulf of Aden. The unfortunately named Delight is now steaming toward Somalia, where it presumably will be held for ransom. It joins the Saudi supertanker, Sirius Star, seized over the weekend.
The MV Sirius Star.
The assault on the Delight is one of 90-plus attacks on ships this year by Somali pirates, more than double last year's tally, according to the International Maritime Bureau. It says that pirates are currently holding 15 ships and more than 250 sailors. That includes a Ukrainian ship carrying Russian tanks intended for southern Sudan; it was captured in September.
The pirates' headquarters is Somalia, whose dysfunctional government lacks basic law-enforcement agencies, on or off shore, to disrupt pirates. It has a 1,000-mile coastline along the Gulf of Aden, where marauders and their boats can hide easily. Yemen and Djibouti, which also border the Gulf of Aden, are more politically stable, but have few capabilities. The same is true for Kenya, off whose coast the supertanker was taken.
The pirates prey on commercial vessels, which in this computerized age usually carry small, mostly unarmed, crews; the Sirius Star, three times the size of an aircraft carrier, is run by a crew of just 25. The pirates are equipped with modern weapons and high-tech devices such as GPS trackers and satellite phones. Three years ago they used rocket-propelled grenades against a cruise ship carrying 150 American, Australian and European passengers. The ship managed to outrun the pirates.
As Somalia falls apart and the pirates proliferate, it's been left to the U.S. and the rest of the civilized world to police them. The main vehicle for doing so is a global maritime effort called Combined Task Force 150. It was set up after 9/11 by the Bush Administration and falls under the aegis of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet. Commanders have hailed from France, Britain, the Netherlands, Canada and Pakistan. The current commander is a Commodore of the Danish Royal Navy.
CTF 150 has 2.5 million square miles to patrol. Fighting piracy poses knotty legal problems too, as David Rivkin and Lee Casey describe here, not least what to do with captured pirates. Build a Captain Jack Sparrow wing at Guantanamo to contain them?
Antipiracy efforts are working elsewhere in the world. Pirates thrived in the Strait of Malacca, which is transited annually by 60,000 ships, but last year there were only 73 pirate attacks, down from 276 five years earlier. The decline is the result of a coordinated policing effort by Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, with help from the U.S., which provided training and equipment. Captured pirates are tried in local courts. They aren't treated lightly.
That's Asia. What remains to be seen is how the U.S. and Old Europe deal with this escalating assault. The world has been here before, circa 1805. That was the year of the Battle of Derne, the first fight on foreign soil of the new United States of America. It is recorded in the Marine Hymn's famous line about the "shores of Tripoli." President Thomas Jefferson ordered the Marines into action against the Barbary Coast pirates, who had been exacting ransom from the major maritime powers in return for seized ships and kidnapped citizens.
This problem obviously spills into the lap of the newly arriving President. Though relatively small, the pirates are a challenge to established authority in a way understandable to all. If the high seas are allowed to degrade into a no-man's land, the world's thugs will notice and press forward elsewhere. It's going to require an exercise of U.S. power to push back, or allow global piracy to flourish.
Last Edit: November 19, 2008, 08:49:19 AM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, et al, cf Yemen)
Reply #3 on:
November 19, 2008, 08:28:25 PM »
Certainly on point with regard to piracy, as well as , , , other matters.
Note the date.
AIR PIRACY REPRISAL AND CAPTURE ACT OF 2001 -- HON. RON PAUL (Extensions of Remarks - October 10, 2001)
HON. RON PAUL
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Wednesday, October 10, 2001
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the Air Piracy Reprisal and Capture Act of 2001 and the September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001. The Air Piracy Reprisal and Capture Act of 2001 updates the federal definition of ``piracy'' to include acts committed in the skies. The September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001 provides Congressional authorization for the President to issue letters of marque and reprisal to appropriate parties to seize the person and property of Osama bin Laden and any other individual responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11. Authority to grant letters of marque and reprisal are provided for in the Constitution as a means of allowing Congress to deal with aggressive actions where a formal declaration of war against a foreign power is problematic, Originally intended to deal with piracy, letters of marque and reprisal represent an appropriate response to the piracy of the twentieth century: hijacking terrorism.
All of America stood horrified at the brutal attacks of September 11 and all of us stand united in our determination to exact just retribution on the perpetrators of this evil deed. This is why I supported giving the President broad authority to use military power to respond to these attacks. When Congress authorized the use of force to respond to the attacks of September 11 we recognized these attacks were not merely criminal acts but an ``unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security.''
Congress must use every means available to fight the terrorists behind this attack if we are to fulfill our constitutional obligations to provide for the common defense of our sovereign nation. Issuance of letters of marque and reprisal are a valuable tool in the struggle to exact just retribution on the perpetrators of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In fact, they may be among the most effective response available to Congress.
Since the bombing there has been much discussion of how to respond to warlike acts carried out by private parties. The drafters of the Constitution also had to wrestle with the problem of how to respond to sporadic attacks on American soil and citizens organized by groups not formally affiliated with a government. In order to deal with this situation, the Constitution authorized Congress to issue letters of marque and reprisal. In the early days of the Republic, marque and reprisal were usually used against pirates who, while they may have enjoyed the protection and partnership of governments, where not official representatives of a government.
Although modern America does not face the threat of piracy on the high seas, we do face the threat of international terrorism, Terrorism has much in common with the piracy of days gone by. Like the pirates of old, today's terrorists are private groups operating to assault the United States government as well as threaten the lives, liberty and property of United States citizens. The only difference is that while pirates sought financial gains, terrorists seek to advance ideological and political agendas through terroristic violence.
Like the pirates who once terrorized the high seas, terrorists today are also difficult to punish using military means. While bombs and missiles may be sufficient to knock out the military capability and the economic and technological infrastructure of an enemy nation that harbors those who committed the September 11 attacks, traditional military force may not be suitable to destroy the lawless terrorists who are operating in the nations targeted for military force. Instead, those terrorists may simply move to another base before our troops can locate them. It is for these reasons that I believe that, were the drafters of the Constitution with us today, they would counsel in favor of issuing letters of marque and reprisal against the terrorists responsible for this outrageous act.
Specifically, my legislation authorizes the President to issue letters of marque and reprisal to all appropriate parties to capture Osama bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda or any other persons involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks. The President is also authorized to use part of the $40 billion appropriated by this Congress to respond to the attack, to establish a bounty for the capture of Osama bin Laden. My legislation singles out Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda because the information available to Congress and the American people indicates bin Laden and his organization were responsible for this action. By vesting authority in the President to issue the letters, my legislation ensures that letters of marque and reprisal can be coordinated with the administration's overall strategy to bring the perpetrators of this outrageous act to justice.
Letters of marque and reprisal resolve one of the most vexing problems facing the country: how do we obtain retribution against the perpetrators of the attacks without inflicting massive damage on the Middle East which could drive moderate Arabs into an allegiance with bin Laden and other terrorists. This is because using letters of marque and reprisal shows the people of the region that we are serious when we say our quarrel is not with them but with Osama bin Laden and all others who would dare commit terrorist acts against the United States.
Mr, Speaker, I ask that my colleagues join with me in providing the additional ``necessary weapon of war'' and to help defend our fellow citizens, our sovereign nation, and our liberty by cosponsoring the September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001 and the Air Piracy Reprisal and Capture Act of 2001.
Text of H.R. 3076 [107th]: September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001
UN Logo Vehicles Used in Suicide Bombings
Reply #4 on:
September 18, 2009, 11:24:11 AM »
Suicide bombers used U.N.-logo vehicles to strike peacekeepers in Somalia, African Union says
Posted: 04:25 PM ET
(CNN) — Suicide attackers breached security at the African Union base in Somalia’s capital by using vehicles with United Nations logos to carry out a deadly double car bombing, the organization told CNN.
“The vehicles had U.N. logos on them and they entered inside the headquarters and then exploded,” said Gaffel Nkolokosa, spokesman for the African Union mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM. “We do not know if they were, in fact, U.N. vehicles.”
Jean Ping, chairman of the African Union Commission, issued a statement strongly condemning the attack on the base in Mogadishu, saying it had killed “a number of peacekeepers.” It was unclear how many casualties were caused by the twin suicide car bombs, Nkolokosa said.
The two cars packed with explosives rammed into a building housing peacekeepers from Burundi and Uganda, Ping said. Al-Shabaab, the Islamist militia with ties to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the midday attack, he said.
Saracen Intl deal in Somalia
Reply #5 on:
March 17, 2011, 02:22:52 AM »
Re: Saracen Intl deal in Somalia
Reply #6 on:
March 17, 2011, 02:53:17 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on March 17, 2011, 02:22:52 AM
Guro Crafty, thank you.
I am looking into this quite a bit, especially over the next month or so. I'll see if I can't provide something of substance in the near future in regards to them and their operations in the autonomous region of Puntland and some other places that I will be.
millions at risk of starvation
Reply #7 on:
August 04, 2011, 06:41:25 PM »
One million starved in 1985 in Ethopia. More at risk in the horn now. Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti, Eritria.
The WTC death toll is peanuts compared to these events.
Re: Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, et al, cf Yemen)
Reply #8 on:
August 04, 2011, 06:46:05 PM »
With the world in such good and stable shape I guess we can cut the US military $500b
Re: Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, et al, cf Yemen)
Reply #9 on:
August 04, 2011, 06:49:10 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on August 04, 2011, 06:46:05 PM
With the world in such good and stable shape I guess we can cut the US military $500b
See, all you do if you suddenly need cutting edge weapon systems and highly skilled troops is just go down to Walmart and get some. It's not like you need a decades long R&D or something....
Re: Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, et al, cf Yemen)
Reply #10 on:
August 26, 2011, 02:30:43 PM »
"People are being killed like goats."
Stratfor: Israel and Iran in East Africa
Reply #11 on:
October 29, 2012, 07:45:44 AM »
Eastern Africa: A Battleground for Israel and Iran
October 29, 2012 | 1016 GMT
Iranian Navy Commander Admiral Habibollah Sayari in December 2010
Whether an Oct. 24 explosion at a Sudanese arms factory with suspected ties to Iran was the result of an Israeli attack, the incident highlights Iran's maneuvers and Israel's concerns in eastern Africa. Tehran has sought to establish land routes for weapons trafficking from the Indian Ocean and Red Sea into Gaza and Israel in order to support militants in the region -- particularly Iranian proxy militant groups on Israel's borders and in the Levant. This, along with the importance of the maritime route through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to the sustainability of these land routes, has made Sudan and the Red Sea part of a secondary battleground between Iran and Israel.
Iranian naval forces are key to maintaining and expanding Tehran's weapons smuggling routes. In 2007, Tehran restructured the Iranian navy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps navy, putting the corps' naval focus on the Strait of Hormuz, Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. This allowed the more traditional Iranian navy to focus on blue-water efforts that would expand Tehran's naval influence, specifically in the triangle connecting the Strait of Hormuz, the Strait of Malacca and the Bab el Mandeb strait. Bab el Mandeb is of great importance to Iran, because it is a natural choke point between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Iran's focus on expansion in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea serves several purposes. First, it establishes an Iranian presence along a key transportation route where Iran can protect its vessels from Somali pirates. Second, it is a military tactic, giving the Iranian navy influence outside the Persian Gulf -- something Tehran believes is necessary for its success as a regional power. As Iran attempts to move its navy toward a blue-water capability, the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea will be where developments occur first. Finally, it supports Iran's goals in eastern Africa. Iran's navy is not advanced enough to challenge other navies in the region, but the maritime presence in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea allows the Iranians to provide cover for their weapons smuggling routes to the north.
Diplomacy on the Southern Red Sea Coast
Tehran uses its naval presence in the region as a form of soft diplomacy to maintain good relations with Eritrea and Sudan (and, to a lesser extent, Djibouti) all while supporting its onshore goals in the region. Iranian tankers and other vessels, including military vessels, frequently dock at the Eritrean ports of Massawa and Assab and at Port Sudan. In 2008, Eritrean opposition figures even claimed that Eritrea had allowed Iran to establish a naval base at Assab, near the entrance to the Bab el Mandeb strait. Tehran has also used its relationship with Eritrea to aid Yemen's al-Houthi rebels who, like the Iranians, are Shia (although the Yemeni rebels belong to a different sect).
Port Sudan's proximity to Gaza, Egypt and Israel make it an excellent location for smuggling arms northward. In 2009, Israel launched three airstrikes against weapons shipments in Sudan that were believed to be from Iran heading toward Gaza. In 2011, Khartoum blamed Israel for another strike on Port Sudan that killed two people. Leaked cables also indicate that the West warned Khartoum not to allow Tehran to arm Hamas militants during the 2008-2009 Gaza War.
Since Tehran's relations with Saudi Arabia and Yemen -- on the northern coastlines of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden -- are sour, these ties to countries on the southern coastlines have become a strategic necessity for Iran's ambitions beyond the Persian Gulf. Iran has been able to deploy more ships farther from the Gulf since 2007. For example, in 2011, for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranian naval vessels passed through the Suez Canal. With Egypt's new Islamist president seeking to work with Iran on a solution for Syria, Iran could gain greater access to Egyptian waters, especially as Cairo attempts to use Tehran as leverage to manage Israel.
Iran's navy cannot project enough power to control key shipping lanes, but Tehran has emphasized its presence around Bab el Mandeb as a possible means of disrupting global trade in the event of an attack on Iran and a key point for negotiations in the future, much like the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran's maritime presence also helps support anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and northwestern Indian Ocean. Iran's navy has been a successful interdictor of Somali piracy since 2008, when Somali pirates hijacked an Iranian chartered cargo ship off the Yemeni coast. While countering piracy protects Iranian trade vessels from Somali pirates, it also provides a rationale for the Iranian navy's presence off the coast of eastern Africa, allowing it to discreetly augment Iran's activities on land, such as weapons trafficking through Sudan.
Iran's Land-Based Operations in Africa
Iran has used not only the Sudanese coastline but also Eritrea and possibly Djibouti or Somalia to smuggle arms onto land before shipping them to their destination. Eastern Africa’s porous borders make smuggling along land routes relatively easy.
Tehran uses the land routes in eastern Africa to smuggle weapons and stage anti-Israeli attacks. The Yarmouk factory in Khartoum, where the explosion occurred Oct. 24, is believed to manufacture ammunition and rocket artillery destined for Gaza and the al-Houthi rebels in Yemen. The factory is thought to have ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and is said to be staffed by Iranians. In June, two members of the corps' Quds Force were arrested in Kenya and were found in possession of the explosive RDX. The RDX could have been bound for a smuggling route, or it could have been meant for use in an attack on Israeli interests in Kenya. In Mombasa, Kenya, in 2002 an Israeli-owned hotel was bombed and two surface-to-air missiles were fired at an Israeli chartered jet in attacks believed to have been conducted by al Qaeda's East Africa branch.
Tehran has used the land routes not only to smuggle weapons and drugs into Gaza but also to move trafficked goods back to Iran. During the 2011-2012 Arab unrest, Libyan weapons were smuggled to Sudan, and Israel has said those weapons went back to Iran before they were sent to Hezbollah, likely through Syria.
As Israel's attacks on weapons convoys in Sudan illustrate, Israel is paying attention to Iran's smuggling routes in eastern Africa and attempting to interdict Tehran's weapons shipments to the north. Iran's use of additional smuggling routes in Kenya and Tanzania, south of the African horn, could limit Israel's ability to interrupt Iran's trafficking operations by spreading those operations across a larger area.
Read more: Eastern Africa: A Battleground for Israel and Iran | Stratfor
Reply #12 on:
October 30, 2012, 12:33:04 PM »
Iran Naval Commanders Meet With Sudan Counterparts .
Article Stock Quotes Comments (1) more in AFRICA | Find New $LINKTEXTFIND$ ».
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By NICHOLAS BARIYO
KAMPALA, Uganda—Iranian naval commanders met Tuesday with their counterparts in Sudan to discuss joint training exercises in the wake of explosions at a weapons factory that was blamed on Israel.
The commanders from Iran were part of a delegation from two Iranian warships that docked at Port Sudan on Monday. The visit and the training exercise have been in the planning stages, and the ships departed from Iran in September. But the meetings have taken on a new significance after Sudan alleged that Israeli aircraft bombed a weapons factory in its capital Khartoum last Wednesday.
Sudanese army spokesman Sawarmi Khalid Saad told Suna, Sudan's state news agency, that the arrival of the warships is within the framework of "friendly relations and goodwill of naval forces" and they would support "strong political, security and diplomatic relations between the two states."
Wednesday's explosions rocked the Yarmouk Military Complex in Khartoum, killing at least two people and leaving the complex partially burnt. Sudan initially ruled out external aggression, blaming a fire on an internal explosion. Sudanese information minister Ahmed Bilal Osman later said Israel was suspected of hitting the plant with four fighter jets using hi-tech jamming devices.
Israel has declined to comment on the incident.
Rabie Abdelaty, the spokesman for Sudan's information ministry, said the arrival of Iran's ships will give Sudanese armed forces an opportunity to learn advanced naval warfare and air-defense technology in the wake of Israel's alleged attack. He declined to discuss details of the meetings between the Sudanese and Iranian naval officials.
"Sudan will confront the aggression started by Israel" Mr. Abdelaty said. Sudan has also called on the United Nations to condemn Israel over the attacks, he said.
Sudan and Iran have been steadfast military allies since the early 1980s. According to Swiss-based publication, Small Arms Survey, Iran remains a major supplier of weapons to Sudan.
In the past three years, Sudan has accused Israel of carrying out several air strikes inside its territory, the most recent one being in May, in which one alleged arms dealer was killed as he drove through the streets of Port Sudan.
On Monday, Sudan's foreign ministry denied that the bombed plant was being operated by Iran. Security officials in Kenya and Uganda say that the Israel intelligence believes that Yarmouk, one of two publicly known state-owned weapons factories in Khartoum, is the main source of missiles used by the militant group Hamas. The Sudanese government maintains that the plant produces "ordinary weapons."
U.S.-based Satellite Sentinel Project–which is a partnership between the Enough Project, a human-rights organization, and DigitalGlobe, DGI +2.00%a provider of imagery products and services—has since said that a detailed analysis of satellite images suggest the factory was hit by air-delivered munitions.
Iran's official news agency, IRNA reported Monday that the war ships arrived to "convey a message of peace and friendship" and "to provide safety at sea in light of increasing maritime terrorism." Iran has also deployed a navy fleet off the East African coast of Djibouti to fight piracy.
Israel accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons with the intention of striking Israel's nuclear facilities. Iran, which remains on the receiving end of a U.S.-led international condemnation, denies the accusations.
Meanwhile, Iran's regular army began a two-day ground and air military exercise aimed at upgrading its combat readiness and increasing its deterrence against possible attacks, according to The Associated Press.
Iranian state TV said the drills involve forces in a wide region in western Iran near the Iraqi border. It showed troops parachuting from helicopters near the towns of Sarpol-e Zahab and Qasr-e Shirin, about 700 kilometers west of Tehran
Isarel hits Iranian arms shipment in Sudan
Reply #13 on:
November 03, 2012, 08:10:04 PM »
Israel vs. Iran in Eritrea
Reply #14 on:
December 12, 2012, 06:43:06 AM »
Eritrea: Another Venue for the Iranian-Israeli Rivalry
December 11, 2012 | 1115 GMT
2 0 12 10
ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images
Iran's Kharg supply ship in a Red Sea port on Oct. 31
The tiny country of Eritrea has been accommodating two Middle Eastern rivals in order to face its geopolitical challenges -- mainly its fear of invasion by Ethiopia. Iran wants to expand its presence in Eritrea and other East African nations in order to gain influence along the Red Sea, an important route for seaborne international trade. Israel, meanwhile, wants to monitor Iranian activities in the region. By allowing foreign security operations in its territory, Eritrea has become another venue for Israel and Iran's ongoing rivalry.
Eritrea operates under two key geopolitical constraints: multiple security concerns and a weak economy caused by the country's small size and population (5.2 million in 2011, according to the United Nations) and lack of natural resources. The war-torn country has few options for satisfying its economic needs.
Since gaining independence from Ethiopia in 1991, Eritrea has fought wars against Yemen, Djibouti and Ethiopia. The war with Yemen was sparked by territorial claims over Greater Hanish Island in the Red Sea. In its conflict with Djibouti, Eritrea claimed ownership of the Ras Doumeira mountains along the coast.
Eritrea has faced an existential security threat since independence: invasion by Ethiopia. This concern grew after the United States allied with Ethiopia and diplomatic quarrelling froze relations between Washington and Asmara in 2001. The overwhelming fear that Ethiopia would invade to recover its lost territory has led to high levels of conscription into the Eritrean military. More than 10 percent of the country's population, including older citizens, now serves in the military or in a reserve force. The constant possibility of an Ethiopian invasion has put Eritrea in a seemingly endless state of emergency.
Specific Threats from Ethiopia
For Eritrea, the most pertinent security concern is Ethiopia's strategic interest in regaining a port on the Red Sea. Following independence, Eritrea held the ports of Assab and Massawa, while Ethiopia, a country of nearly 90 million people, became landlocked. Assab is located in Eritrea's far south, roughly 161 kilometers (100 miles) from the Ethiopian border, near the home of numerous Afar tribes (indeed, most Afars live in northeastern Ethiopia). Ethiopia-backed Afar rebels make up Eritrea's main armed opposition group and demand independence. The goal of retaking Assab is popular goal among Ethiopia's political elite and a common issue in the country's political discourse.
Moreover, Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a bloody war from 1998 to 2000, and tensions along the border remain. Eritrea lost the war, in which 70,000 people were killed, but it repelled the Ethiopians and safeguarded its independence from Addis Ababa. Both countries have troops stationed along the border, and Ethiopia launched three attacks in southern Eritrea in March.
Turning to the Middle East
Eritrea's imperative is to maintain its significance and acquire defensive measures from willing Middle East countries to maintain its independence from Ethiopia. Facing years of continuous isolation from its African neighbors and from the United States due to its alleged support for Somali Islamist groups, Eritrea has turned to the Middle East for alliances and assistance. After withholding its participation in the African Union from 2004 to 2011, Eritrea became an observer member of the Arab League.
Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are becoming close allies of the small African country. Iran has supplied arms and training to Yemeni al-Houthi rebels located along the Eritrean territory coast. This piqued Saudi Arabia's interest in Eritrea, since Riyadh wants to deter the rebels. Qatar, which wants to exercise influence in East Africa, mediated the Eritrea-Djibouti border dispute.
In exchange for resources, possibly including modest amounts of cash and weapons, Eritrea has exhibited a willingness to become a base of support for Middle Eastern powers that want to exert greater influence in the Horn of Africa. As a result, Eritrea and its waters in the Gulf of Aden have become another venue for Iran and Israel's rivalry. Israel and Iran's engagement with Eritrea is an extension of their rivalry over the Red Sea, which allegedly led to the bombing of the Yarmouk weapons factory in Sudan.
Israeli and Iranian Operations
In 2008, Tehran struck a deal with Asmara to maintain a military presence in Assab -- officially to protect the state-owned renovated Soviet-era oil refinery there. In return, Asmara received cash and other military support from Tehran through official and unofficial channels. In 2009, the same year in which Eritrea openly supported Iran's nuclear program, the Export Development Bank of Iran transferred $35 million to support the Eritrean economy.
Iran's operations in Eritrea are relevant to Tehran's larger goal of controlling the Bab el Mandeb strait and the water route to the Suez Canal. Moreover, naval ships from a dozen Western and other countries are stationed just miles from Assab to fight piracy in the Indian Ocean and conduct other security operations in the region. The United States and France have large bases in Djibouti, near Assab. Thus, Iran's presence in Eritrea could be more significant in terms of intelligence gathering than tactical defense.
Israel also operates inside Eritrea. According to Stratfor diplomatic and media sources, Israel has small naval teams in the Dahlak archipelago and Massawa and a listening post in Amba Soira. Israel's presence in Eritrea is very focused and precise, involving intelligence gathering in the Red Sea and monitoring Iran's activities. Various Stratfor diplomatic sources have said that Israel's presence in Eritrea is small but significant.
Asmara wants Israel's friendship for numerous security and political reasons. Eritrea wants to use Israel to influence the United States -- an ally of both Israel and Ethiopia -- in decisions regarding Eritrea on the international stage. The country also wants to acquire better air defense capabilities to defend against a possible attack from Ethiopia. Moreover, cooperating with Israel is a way for Asmara to balance its controversial relationship with Tehran.
However, Israel has good relations with both Eritrea and Ethiopia and is less interested in expanding its presence in Eritrea than Iran. Israel would not want to harm its relations with Ethiopia and other regional countries, as it has a wider interest in East Africa -- mainly containing Sudan's Islamist government, which allegedly supports Hamas and other anti-Israeli elements in the Middle East. As Israel has expanded its security cooperation with South Sudan and Kenya in recent years, Eritrea has responded by strengthening its ties with Iran.
Eritrea's decision to accommodate Israel and Iran is not an ideological choice. It is a way for a small and insecure nation to meet its economic and security needs.
Read more: Eritrea: Another Venue for the Iranian-Israeli Rivalry | Stratfor
Iran, Sudan, Egypt, Gaza, and Israel
Reply #15 on:
December 18, 2012, 06:52:19 PM »
An Alleged Iranian Arms Shipment Tests Egypt's Resolve
December 14, 2012 | 1606 GMT
Two Iranian warships dock Dec. 8 at Port Sudan
A recent visit by two Iranian warships to Port Sudan on the Red Sea is naturally attracting a great deal of attention from Israel. After all, the November Gaza crisis largely stemmed from the multiple shipments of Iranian-made long-range Fajr-5 rockets to Gaza via Sudan. Stratfor has received indications that the warships carried three containers of arms and munitions bound for Gaza. Though the shipment does not appear to include artillery rockets, Iran looks to be testing Egypt's resolve to secure the Sinai-Gaza border and maintain the shaky cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
The Sudanese navy held an official reception for the Iranian ships, which docked at Port Sudan from Dec. 8 to Dec. 10. According to the Sudanese army, it was a routine tour by the Iranian navy to develop ties between the two nations. However, Israel has a number of reasons to doubt the seemingly benign visit.
Sudan has been a critical logistical hub for Iran to ship weapons northward through the Sinai Peninsula to Gaza. Israel's concern over this supply chain was illustrated Oct. 23 when an airstrike, presumably by the Israeli air force, targeted the Yarmouk weapons facility in Khartoum, which allegedly was being used to stockpile parts for Fajr-5 rockets.
Stratfor has learned that the two Iranian warships that arrived at Port Sudan recently were carrying arms and munitions, including the Iranian version of the Kornet anti-tank guided missile, the DShK 12.7 mm heavy machine gun and 106 mm recoilless rifles. The shipment allegedly does not include artillery rockets. Instead, it appears that Iran is helping Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who were at the forefront of the November crisis, replenish their stockpiles of other weapons. The Kornet anti-tank guided missiles carry particular significance, given their relatively effective use by Hezbollah in the 2006 war; by Syrian rebels in the current conflict there; and their reported use by Gaza militants against an Israeli Merkava tank in December 2010, against an Israeli school bus in April 2011 and allegedly against an Israeli army jeep Nov. 10.
The containers will purportedly be shipped to northern Sinai, where they will remain until an opportunity arises to smuggle them into Gaza. Iran would have an interest in getting the shipment into Egyptian territory as soon as possible in order to reduce the risk of Israel eliminating it, as it did in January 2009, when Israeli aircraft destroyed a Gaza-bound weapons convoy northwest of Port Sudan. A discreet attack on Sudanese territory is far more politically manageable for Israel than an attack on Egyptian soil.
Shipping weapons under the guise of a ceremonious port visit is not the most clandestine means of getting weapons to Gaza militants without interference. It is possible that the information on the three containers was leaked to divert attention from another shipment or that the shipments do not actually carry any weapons but are merely being used to test the Egyptians. Assuming that the information on these weapons shipments is accurate, Egypt's response will be important. The cease-fire agreement struck in November is contingent on Egyptian security guarantees to interdict weapons supplies heading for Gaza. But the Egyptian government, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, is already preoccupied with a domestic crisis over a constitutional referendum and is in no position to handle major tensions with Israel.
Regardless of what is contained in the shipment, Iran is trying to show that it maintains a strong working relationship with Palestinian militants and that its leverage in Gaza has been preserved. It will be interesting to see whether these weapons shipments, coming on the heels of the cease-fire agreement, will reveal any tension between Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas claimed a significant symbolic victory against Israel in the November crisis, and it is using its momentum to build up its political legitimacy in the region through foreign visits. It is also expanding political institutions in the territories to assert its influence. A resumption of hostilities with Israel could greatly disrupt those plans, especially if Israel came to the conclusion that Egypt was either incapable or unwilling to secure the border.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, on the other hand, does not carry the same political ambitions as Hamas and has a much closer relationship with Iran. So far, the two groups have been coordinating closely and are reportedly discussing the creation of a Gaza defense ministry to formalize the joint command and control structure that they formed during the latest crisis. Such a move would enable Hamas to more tightly control militant movements in Gaza, especially at a time when the presence of rival Salafist-jihadists in the region is growing. Though Hamas is in need of arms replenishments, it is probably not interested in making any provocative moves at the moment that could strain its relationship with Egypt and undermine its claimed victory against Israel. The fate of these three alleged weapons containers in the coming days could thus be a significant test of an already highly fragile cease-fire in Gaza.
Read more: An Alleged Iranian Arms Shipment Tests Egypt's Resolve | Stratfor
Al Shabaab's hideout in N. Somalia
Reply #16 on:
February 28, 2013, 10:12:05 AM »
Al Shabaab's Hideout in Northern Somalia
February 28, 2013 | 1145 GMT
Over the past year, elements of al Shabaab, a Somali Islamist militant group, have been fleeing southern Somalia, the geographic focus of its conflict with the new Mogadishu-based government. With support from an unmanned aerial vehicle campaign, Western-backed African Union forces have been expanding their control of the region and are slowly encroaching on remaining al Shabaab positions. As a result, a number of al Shabaab fighters have headed north to mountainous redoubts in the autonomous Somali territory of Puntland.
Thick vegetation and rugged terrain have made the mountains of Puntland highly useful for various militias throughout history. The same geographical features, plus tensions among regional clans and governments, access to local ports and smuggling routes, and a lack of African Union operations in the area, have made the region an ideal al Shabaab hideout again today -- and for the foreseeable future.
Most of the al Shabaab fighters in Puntland have sought refuge in the Al Madow mountains -- a verdant range sometimes known as the Galgala Hills or the Golis Mountains. Located in the coastal Sanaag region, the mountains are part of the larger Karkaar Range, which stretches from easternmost Puntland to just west of the Ethiopian border. The Al Madow range's primary ridgeline runs more than 200 kilometers (roughly 125 miles) parallel to the Gulf of Aden. The area boasts a more hospitable climate than most Somali regions and features thick forests -- especially on the range's steeper northern slope, which receives considerable precipitation from weather systems moving south off the gulf.
The rough topography of the Al Madow range complicates efforts to observe and target militants -- a feature similarly enjoyed by militants hiding in northern Mali's Tigharghar Mountains. Unlike the Malian terrain, however, the thick vegetation of the Al Madow range further conceals militant activities and, where dense enough, can degrade the effectiveness of infrared detectors on unmanned aerial vehicles and other aircraft. The heaviest vegetation can obscure fighters from observation almost completely -- especially during the daytime, when human temperatures differ from the surrounding air less than at night.
The mountains are also ideal due to the limited network of roads in the area, which effectively hinders and funnels the ground movements of attacking forces. For example, a single path wide enough for the passage of vehicles runs along the northern edge of the main ridgeline. A larger network of small trails also exists, but most are suitable only for combatants on foot, perhaps accompanied by pack animals.
Al Shabaab militants are also dependent on the region surrounding the mountains. Indeed, the proximity of the Al Madow range to the Gulf of Aden helped facilitate the group's arrival in the first place. Fighters fleeing southern Somalia in skiffs traveled from town to town along the Somali coast until they reached the northern coast of Puntland. Smugglers operating between Somalia and Yemen through the gulf provide weapons, munitions and medicine to the area.
While Puntland is not the group's normal area of operation, al Shabaab fighters have also been known to conduct raids in the region. Near the eastern edge of the mountains, where most of the militants have congregated, is the city of Bosaso, Puntland's primary seaport. In March 2012, al Shabaab struck a central part of the city and temporarily blocked the main road that connects it to Garowe, the territorial capital. The road is Puntland's lifeline, since most of the region's goods heading to or from Garowe or the Somali city of Galkayo pass through Bosaso. Weapons, explosives and medicines seized in Bosaso indicate that the port, along with other minor harbors farther west, is used to smuggle essential supplies to al Shabaab militants -- both those hiding in the Al Madow range and those still fighting in southern Somalia.
Political and Human Geography
Al Shabaab has also benefitted from regional political issues and prior connections to local militias. The group's presence in Puntland has been aided by Mohamed Said Atom, a warlord known to smuggle arms for the Islamist group. Atom had already been active around the eastern town of Galgala when, in January 2012, large numbers of al Shabaab fighters fleeing southern Somalia arrived and joined his militia. The warlord's leadership was eventually contested and taken over by Yasin Osman Kilwe, now al Shabaab's head of Puntland operations.
Further complicating matters are tensions over the Sanaag region, control over which is disputed between Puntland and the autonomous territory of Somaliland. The issue has undermined the Puntlander government's attempts to dislodge al Shabaab, since Somaliland tends to deploy forces to disputed areas whenever Puntland pulls away troops for assaults on al Shabaab. Puntlander forces already pose a relatively limited threat to the Islamist group compared to the western-backed African Union forces in southern Somalia.
Conflicts among groups like the Warsangali and Majeerteen clans over resources and other issues have provided additional opportunities to al Shabaab. The majority of the Islamist group's fighters are still operating in southern Somalia, where the group has continued to stage hit-and-run attacks and conduct suicide bombings. But its wing in the Al Madow mountains, strengthened by local recruits, especially among the marginalized Warsangalis, is now believed to include at least 1,000 fighters.
This type of presence in Puntland is hardly new. Throughout history, the Al Madow mountains have served as hideouts or defensive positions for local militias. In the early 20th century, for example, Somali revolutionary Sayid Mohamed Abdullah Hassan and his Dervish forces fought British colonial forces from the mountains and used the thick vegetation to hide from British aircraft. In 1993, in the early stages of the Somali civil war, an Islamist militant leader named Hassan Dahir Aweys established a base in the mountains. In 2008, western journalists kidnapped in Bosaso were held in the area. And as long as Somalia remains a theater of conflict, the Al Madow range will continue to provide cover and protection to those that take up positions there.
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Read more: Al Shabaab's Hideout in Northern Somalia | Stratfor
Reply #17 on:
March 11, 2013, 07:26:54 AM »
From the article:
In Iraq and Afghanistan, where U.S. officers honed the tactics they teach here (Baker did several combat tours in Iraq), Americans led the fight against terrorists and insurgents. But in Washington, policymakers are now focused on shaving budgets and bringing home troops. And, Baker says, “there are not a lot of governments who want a big U.S. military footprint in their countries.” So Pentagon strategists need a cheaper way to fight militant Islamists—many of them operating, unmolested, in Africa—who would unseat our allies or attack our homeland.
In Africa, they think they’ve found it. The call it the “train, assist, and enable” model, and they’re testing it on a large scale. The officials teach the counterterrorism lessons learned in the last decade to foreign militaries, empower them with U.S. capabilities such as intelligence-gathering, and then let the African militaries police their own backyards. “That doesn’t mean the United States will never again intervene militarily in another country with boots on the ground,” Baker says. “But the more proactive we are in engaging with foreign partners, and the more predictive we are in identifying common threats, the less likely a future U.S. intervention will be necessary.” U.S. officials here call this “African solutions to African problems.” Which is convenient, because borderless Islamist militants are also American problems. This model represents a new style of American war-fighting for an era of austerity. Call it leading from the shadows.
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