clipped from: weekly.ahram.org.eg
SEAS OF STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE:
The piracy off the coast of Somalia is certain to be seized upon as legal and moral grounds for the internationalization of those waterways.
Somalia perches on the most important maritime channels in the world. Through this passageway passes Arab oil on its way to European and American markets.
The maritime channel has special strategic significance for Washington and Israel.
For the former, it serves as the vital link between the US's Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and its Fifth Fleet stationed off the coast of Bahrain and its Seventh Fleet in the Indian Ocean.
Tel Aviv, meanwhile, has not forgotten that Egypt together with Yemen closed the Bab Al-Mandeb upon the outbreak of the 1973 October War, which came as an additional blow to Israeli and international shipping with the closure of the Suez Canal following the Israeli occupation of Sinai in 1967. Israel has been pressing for the internationalisation of the Red Sea.
The newspaper cautioned that the dramatic increase in acts of piracy in that area may cause maritime traffic to divert away from the Suez Canal to the Cape of Good Hope
RED SEA CHANGE IMMANENT:
Conspiracy theorists would further suggest that the acts of piracy in the area are masterminded in the West, and in Washington in particular.
It is important to bear in mind that, with the rise of piracy in the region, the West has trained its focus more intensely on security of the seas while leaving the domestic crisis in Somalia to play itself out.
Because the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden are integrally connected with the Bab Al-Mandeb, the Red Sea and, some would add, the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba, those powers are keen to see immediate results in these vitally strategic waters.
Conspiracy theorists would further suggest that the acts of piracy in the area are masterminded in the West, and in Washington in particular. They point, for example, to the hijacking of a Ukrainian ship carrying 33 state-of-the-art Russian tanks and argue that there must, at the very least, be some collusion at work
...of rallying support behind the idea of forming an international naval force to keep those waters safe.
the Western drive to form an international naval force in the Red Sea is, perhaps, the most salient proof that the internationalization of the Red Sea is coming
In late November, Paris submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council calling for the creation of an international naval force to protect shipping off the Somali coast. In approving the resolution this week, the Security Council effectively mandates that the Red Sea will come under an international mandate
in June, the UN Security Council approved Resolution 1816, which had been jointly sponsored by France and the US and which had authorised countries cooperating with the interim Somali government to enter Somali regional waters for the purpose of combating hijacking and piracy.
David Ben-Gurion, In 1949 he said, "We are surrounded on land... The sea is our only route of contact with the rest of the world. Developing Eilat will be a major goal towards which we will direct our steps."
In 1950 Saudi Arabia and Egypt struck an agreement granting the latter military access...which are Tiran and Sanafir
One of the motives behind the tripartite aggression of 1956. Later, in 1967, Egypt's closure of the Gulf of Aqaba became the direct cause of the Six Day War
between 1970 and 1973, Yemen alerted the Arab League to Zionist activities on the Eritrean coast near Bab Al-Mandeb. Israel in cooperation with the US had rented several islands from Ethiopia. It further discovered an espionage network based on Barim Island
In 6 October 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a simultaneous attack on Israel
closing the Bab Al-Mandeb to Israeli ships. On 14 October of that year, Yemen deployed forces on several islands in the Red Sea in order to prevent Israel from occupying them.
In October 1977, Sanaa sent a secret memorandum to the Arab League warning of the growth of an Israeli and Ethiopian military presence on the Eritrean coast and near Bab Al-Mandeb. It also reported that Ethiopia had sold a strip of the Eritrean coastline to Zionist intelligence agents,
It is embodied in the Camp David Accords of 16 March 1979 in the form of the recognition of Israel's right to freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Aqaba, the Straits of Tiran and the Suez Canal.
CONTROLLING EAST AFRICA:
The commander of the Israeli navy said, "Control over the Suez Canal only gives Egypt one key to the Red Sea. The second and more important key from the strategic point of view is the Bab Al-Mandeb. This could fall into Israeli hands if it could develop its naval force in the Red Sea zone."
Several Arab studies have concluded that Eritrea's occupation of the Hanish Islands in December 1995 was supported and engineered by Israel with the aim of gaining a stronger foothold in the southern Red Sea.
Israeli strategists then drew up an urgent plan for a more vigorous foreign policy towards east Africa.
To normalise relations with such African countries as Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia, Togo, Mozambique and Kenya, and to counter Arab influence in Africa; to strengthen Israeli military presence in the Red Sea and in Eritrea and Ethiopia; and to strengthen economic ties between Eritrea and Israel.
On 13 February 1993 Israeli delegation paid a secret five-day visit to Eritrea. It provided that Israel permission to maintain a permanent and full Israeli presence in Eritrea and for freedom of movement for Mossad agents in the country.
3,000 troops who took up station in military bases in areas near Sudan and Yemen.
he bases on Sorkin Mountain, overlooking Miyun Island near Bab Al-Mandeb. On this island, located at the entrance to the Red Sea, Israel installed radars that monitor the more than 17,000 ships that pass through the straits,
In mid November 1995, Eritrean forces (without Israeli assistance) undertook a failed bid to occupy the Hanish Islands.
AN ISRAELI HAND?
According to the International Maritime Bureau, there have been 61 assaults recorded by Somali pirates since the beginning of this year.
naval organisation based in Kenya has estimated the number of pirates along the Somali coast at around 1,100, operating in four large bands.
Somali pirates have raked in between $25-30 million so far. pirates are no longer a haphazard collection of opportunists or individuals with no other sources of income
There must be a prime mover seeking to further its own agenda through operations that have grown increasingly sophisticated.
n Somalia, the Islamic Courts Movement almost succeeded in putting an end to the reign of terror and violence of rival militias after it had brought most of the country under control and isolated the remnants of a weak and decaying government. Then Ethiopia intervened, on the grounds of having been invited in by that government, n order to drive out the ICM. he result was to open the way to the return of piracy
"piracy" has become the catchword for the next round in the game of international intervention, international powers are in the process of turning piracy at sea into the avenue for preventing the ICM's rise to power on land
o imagine that the US air force, which can sniff out hideouts and target alleged Al-Qaeda suspects in residential neighbourhoods and craggy mountains, does not have the means to monitor what is taking place along Somalia's maritime borders.
In addition to the communications and military technology, it has forces on the ground in a permanent base in Djibouti not far from a French military base.
It is difficult to believe that those forces with their advanced weaponry and trained in the arts of rapid intervention can not take on a few hundred poorly equipped and trained pirate militias. Surely even some commando operations targeting the hijacked ships would do the trick?
how it could happen that a couple of hundred pirates could operate only a stone's throw away from the place where the warship USS Cole was bombed?
if the US military that is by some accounts prepared to make war on Iran cannot handle pirates then could squads of Iranian boatmen detain US freighters or oil tankers with impunity?
Numerous senior military officials in the West have spoken about the training and tactical expertise these pirates possess.
- Is the purpose to caution ships away from the area?
- Or is it to excuse the inability of Western forces to deal with the threat?
- Or is it to rally support for another international interventionist drive?
with a tangential plan to end opposition to the presence of foreign military forces in the Gulf of Aden by twisting the economic screws? Is this not a likely interpretation of the sounding of the alarm that "piracy" will force commercial naval traffic to make the detour around the tip of Africa?
The key to ending the real dangers and to halting death and destruction is to stop foreign intervention in the domestic affairs of nations and to let the people of nations enjoy the freedom of choosing their preferred form of rule.