Analele Universităţii din Oradea, Seria Relaţii Internaţionale şi Studii Europene, TOM IX, pag. 23-36
EUROPEAN UNION’S MISSION IN SOMALIA. TEN YEARS OF SUCCESSES AND FAILURES (2008-2018)
The European Union is becoming increasingly aware of the need to pursue an active foreign policy. Therefore, EU’s strategies do not only cover intervention on the ground but also seek to support African states indirectly. This support is provided under a series of conditions which export a liberal-democratic model. Thus, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) launched in 2001 in Abuja, Nigeria, was based on the values of democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law. These values match with the essential elements of the EU’s external cooperation governed by the Maastricht Treaty and complemented by the Lomé/Cotonou principles. Since the launch of NEPAD, the Union has contributed to the promotion of peace and security, the strengthening of institutions and governance, trade, investment, economic growth and sustainable development (Taylor, 2010: 51-52).
In addition, the EU has become the largest donor of development aid to the Horn of Africa through the European Development Fund (EDF). Thus, in the period 2008-2013, two billion euros were allocated to countries in the Horn through individual agreements, to which must be added 645 million euros for regional organizations such as the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development). In the humanitarian field, the EU is also the largest donor in the region. The budget for humanitarian purposes reached 800 million euros in the same period. However, as Martín Peralta (2010: 7-8) pointed out, the European institutions were also aware of the need to work together and have therefore created a new framework known as Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience (SHARE). This framework has a budget of 270 million euros which seeks to combine the most urgent humanitarian aid with other more long-term projects.
For two decades the EU has been actively involved in international missions with a multilateral feature. These missions fall under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) that was created in 1992 and marked a major step in the coordination of foreign policy. With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, the CFSP was not altered
- Pablo Arconada-Ledesma is PhD Candidate at Universidad de Valladolid (Spain), Department of Modern, Contemporary and American History, Journalism, Audiovisual Communication and E-mail: [email protected]
at first. Nonetheless, by 2014 important steps were taken in the harmonization of certain institutions such as the EEAS (European External Action Service) and defining the status and functioning of the EDA (European Defense Agency), as provided in Article 45(2) of the TEU (Legrand, 2018).
In this way, the EU has intervened in different parts of the African continent. In fact, the CFSP has been used in two ways in Africa: to act in specific crisis and to increase reconstruction capacity especially in the context of the African Security and Peace Architecture (APSA). This has been the case since the adoption of the European Strategy for Africa and the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership Agreement (Vines, 2010: 1091). Nonetheless, one of the regions that has received more attention from the EU in the last decade is undoubtedly the Horn of Africa. Indeed, three military missions have been deployed in Somalia to address the widespread instability. Thus, Navfor-Atalanta (2008), EUTM-Somalia (2010) and EUCAP Nestor-Somalia (2012) were launched in order to try to stabilize the region and combat piracy, terrorism and other illegal activities.
1. Somalia, a Non-State Context
Somalia is widely considered a Failed State since 1991. Earlier that year, the president Mohamed Siad Barre had to flee, and the country was left headless. Thus, the fall of the president can be explained by the change in the international context since 1985 and the end of the Cold War. Hence, it can be said that the Somali disintegration was due to the regional and international context, but also to the post-colonial model imposed in 1960. In addition, dictator’s policies of corruption, nepotism and repression fostered the economic, political, and social fragmentation of the state (Arconada-Ledesma, 2018b: 105).
In any case, by 1991 Somalia had no longer any state structure and the vacuum was filled by various irregular forces who monitored small regions. By then, the Somali state had already begun an inexorable journey towards disintegration. In addition to the breakdown of state structures, Somalia suffered a process of territorial fragmentation. Precisely, terms like failed state or non-state should be used when a State is unable or unwilling to assume its basic functions. Normally these non-states are characterized by civil conflict, corruption, economic collapse, lack of infrastructure, poverty, poor rule of law, lack of territorial control and political instability, among others.
In a new international context favorable to interventionism, both the UN and the US announced its intention to lead a multinational peace operation in Somalia. UN launched UNOSOM I (1992-1993) and UNOSOM II (1993-1995) which had longer-term objectives such as achieving national reconciliation, demobilizing guerrillas and revitalizing local and national governments (Menkhaus, 2007: 81). This mission turned into a total crisis causing the death of 24 blue helmets and 18 US soldiers in 1993, which forced the withdrawal of troops in 1995 (Arconada-Ledesma, 2018a: 417).
Due to that bad experience, there were no more interventionist missions in Somalia. Since 1995 warlords made difficult to stabilize the country and recover state structures, but the progress of various Islamic courts managed to contain the situation. Since 2000, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) developed some state structures and begun to cover basic services for the population and institutionalized a Sharia-based judicial system (Ricci, 2008: 165). Despite its clear authoritarian and fundamentalist tendency, the ICU became the only institution capable to contain insecurity.
However, as stated by Requena (2014: 2) the situation changed when Ethiopia, supported by US, invaded the country expelling the ICU and installing the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in the capital. Since 2006 the TFG has managed to pacify
some areas. Notwithstanding, its inability to establish some basic state structures and corruption cases exhausted its mandate. Thus, in 2012 a new government was formed setting two urgent goals based on fighting al-Shabaab and the reunification of Somalia.
2. Major Challenges Faced by the European Union In Somalia
The disintegration process of Somalia was the perfect breeding ground for piracy and terrorism. Thus, if there is no government with strong state structures, all attempts to end instability are nothing more than remedies. This could undoubtedly help to address other challenges facing the country, such as droughts, famine, the commodification of humanitarian aid and human trafficking, among others. If the state is not fully reconstructed, some of these threats can only be contained temporarily. Piracy is the biggest defiance for the EU. Under Article 101 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, agreed in 1982, piracy is defined as:
Any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed: on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft; against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State; any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft.
The situation of the Horn of Africa fitted perfectly into this framework. The fact is that the increasing number of ships carrying goods across the Gulf of Aden has grown since the year 2000. However, it is important to reflect on the causes that have led part of the Somali population to set sail with the aim of hijacking and detaining these ships. Trumbull points out that local factors are key to understand what happened. Illegal industrial fishing off the coast of Somalia, the dumping of toxic waste or the unstoppable rise in poverty and its effects are all factors to be taken into account as they have altered the way of life of coastal fishing families (2010: 15).
Chalk (2010: 92-97) mentioned some possible causes: lack of a sovereign entity in Somalia and the fall of Siad Barre in 1991, general impoverishment, humanitarian crisis, lack of opportunities in the region and the flexibility of access to weapons throughout East Africa that made much easier for pirates to obtain a wide variety of weapons, including assault rifles, heavy and light machine guns, and rocket launchers, among others. All this led to a significant increase in piracy activities from 2006 onwards. In 2009, 50 ships were hijacked in the region and there were more than 200 attacks. By 2011, piracy was reaching the coasts of India, the Ormuz Strait and even Mozambique. In addition, in the most critical years, piracy was estimated to cause damage to the global economy in the amount of $7 billion-12 billion per year (Frutos Ruíz, 2012: 1-8).
Moreover, the relationship between piracy, terrorism and trafficking networks has been pointed out by Chinchilla (2017: 9) who suggested that al-Shabaab received 20-50% of the money raised by Somali pirates through the hijacking of foreign ships. Also important is al-Shabaab’s control over some of the country’s ports, which are later used by pirates. Despite this, the payment for the use of the port is more of a rental by the pirates to al-Shabaab than an explicit financial support. In this context, and due to the threat posed by piracy to the main maritime trade networks linking Europe, East Africa and Asia, EU chose to send the first naval mission in its history, EUNAVFOR-Atalanta.
The second challenge for the Somali government, the EU, the AU and UN, is terrorism. It should be noted that the influence of terrorist groups in Somalia has varied widely, changing from being a local threat to becoming a global one. Firstly, there were
already fundamentalist groups that flourished under Somalia’s uncontrolled situation and access to all kinds of weapons during 1990s. Bruton highlighted the role of al-Itihaad al- Islamiya that controlled some areas of the country after the disastrous UN missions. This group was a radical movement with direct links to al-Qaeda, although both groups soon came into conflict. Regional al-Qaeda leaders confronted nationalist leaders who refused to contribute to the jihad and their aspirations were frustrated by the widespread fragmentation of local islamist groups (2009: 82). This led to the death of al-Itihaad al- Islamiya in the late 1990s and the loss of al-Qaeda’s regional brand.
However different Islamic courts began to impose a Sharia-based judicial system and to provide security so that the role of the warlords diminished in the late 1990s. These courts were extremely successful in reducing insecurity and began to take over some state competencies such as health and education (Ricci, 2008: 164-165). Different courts in Mogadishu chose to create the Islamic Courts Union in 2000, which set a precedent and generated a nationwide movement that led to the replication of this model in different parts of the country. Due to this success, Washington encouraged the nascent TFG to negotiate with the ICU. This support lasted until US realized that the ICU was made up of a huge diversity of groups, from moderate to radical, including al-Shabaab, the military arm of the ICU (Bruton, 2009: 84).
A confrontation between different groups led the ICU to a more radical position. The interests of the moderate Hawiye clan were contrary to those of the al-Shabaab militia, which was gaining influence (Menkhaus, 2009: 225). These positions alarmed both Ethiopia and the US, which in 2006 decided to invade Somalia to overthrow the ICU. The invasion, which was supported by US bombing, succeeded in expelling the courts and installing the TFG in Somalia (Arconada-Ledesma, 2018a: 422). The fall of the courts did not mean the end of the more radical tendencies, quite the contrary. If al-Shabaab was controlled under the rule of the ICU, once this union disappeared the terrorist group could act freely. Since then, terrorist attacks have multiplied, and al-Shabaab has maintained its influence in the centre and south of the country. Indeed, the group was present in the capital until 2011 when regular Somali soldiers, supported by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops expelled them. Since then al-Shabaab has been losing influence in many urban areas, maintaining only some control in rural areas. Without a doubt, the loss of the port of Kismayo in 2012 was a huge blow to their financial capacities as they benefited from the lucrative charcoal trade. Despite the victories over this group, al-Shabaab still has the capacity to carry out all kinds of terrorist attacks in Somalia (Requena, 2014: 3).
Since 2015 al-Shabaab has changed its strategy due to the continued loss of territory and influence in Somalia, becoming a threat also in other territories such as Kenya, where the attack on Garissa University left a total of 147 students dead (BBC, 2015, 13 April). In Somalia, the targets of the terrorists focused on security forces and politicians. Othman Alkaff and Aziemah Azman has reported that there were attacks on AMISOM troops in Leego the 26 June 2015, in Janale the 1 September 2015 and on various hotels in the capital (2016: 121). As sadly experienced the 14 October 2017 in Mogadishu, fundamentalists killed more than 500 people in what became the worst terrorist attack in the Somalia‟s history (El País, 2017, 1 December).
3. European Union Missions in Somalia (2008-2018)
Due to the experience of both the US and UN in Somalia in the period 1991-1995 the EU position on Somalia was based on avoiding any direct intervention. Instead of acting directly, the so-called soft power was used, and Brussels began to act indirectly in the region through funding or development cooperation. In this way, the EU development policy had been working on and Somalia, under the agreements with the ACP countries, has received aid through the European Development Fund (EDF) (Sánchez-Barrueco, 2013: 235).
However, this situation turned upside down in 2008. The uncontrolled position on the Somali coast and the pirate threat was so high that hard power was used for the first time. This was a precedent for European foreign policy. The fact is that the EU has shown its interest in the country achieving peace and security, which has become a priority for the Commission with bilateral initiatives as well as the Instrument for Stability and EU Strategy for the Horn of Africa. This is undoubtedly due to the need to secure trade routes and facilitate access to fishing in the waters of the region, but also to the interest in stabilizing the whole Horn of Africa, as the Somali conflict affects other states such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda and Kenya (Arconada-Ledesma, 2018a: 423). The use of hard-power was again evident in 2011 with the adoption of the Strategy Framework for the Horn of Africa which focused on five areas: building and developing political structures, contributing to conflict prevention and resolution, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid to the region, promoting economic development and continuing to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia (Sánchez-Barrueco, 2013: 234).
Although the EU has shifted from non-intervention to sending military missions, the fact is that the AMISOM bear the brunt of most of the operations in Somalia. This mission has been active since 2007 and currently has more than 22,000 military and police personnel from different countries such as Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti. The EU is therefore the largest international financial contributor to the deployment and maintenance of AMISOM, but all real efforts remain with the AU. Even so, the EU has become the second largest international player on Somali territory due to the deployment of two military missions and one civilian mission (Díez-Alcalde, 2017: 14-15).
3.1. European Union Naval Force Operation Atalanta (2008-2018)
Navfor Atalanta mission was the first EU response to the insecurity in the waters of the Indian Ocean. Since 2005, piracy has taken a qualitative leap forward and the hijacking of two vessels chartered by the World Food Programme to deliver humanitarian aid to the Somali population set off UN alarms. Thus, the Secretary-General’s report of 21 February 2006 (S/2006/122) on the situation in Somalia showed that piracy had become a serious problem along the east coast of Somalia, with more than 34 attacks on merchant vessels in the past year and at least seven of them hijacked.
However, the final step towards direct intervention was not taken until 2008, when three UN resolutions, 1801(2008), 1814(2008) and 1816(2008), took up the pressing maritime situation off the coast of Somalia once again. The latest resolution lays the foundations for possible action in the region since the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 , sets out the legal framework applicable to combating piracy and armed robbery […] the relevant provisions of international law with respect to the repression of piracy, including the Convention, and recalling that they provide guiding principles for cooperation to the fullest possible extent in the repression of piracy on the high seas or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any state, including but not limited to boarding,
searching, and seizing vessels engaged in or suspected of engaging in acts of piracy, and to apprehending persons engaged in such acts.
Finally, in Resolution 1838(2008) the UN called for:
States interested in the security of maritime activities to take part actively in the fight against piracy on the high seas off the coast of Somalia, in particular by deploying naval vessels and military aircraft, in accordance with international law, as reflected in the Convention and […] States that have the capacity to do so to cooperate with the TFG in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea.
Within this framework, the EU decided to send a military mission to the waters of the Indian Ocean and the Council adopted Joint Action 2008/851/CFSP 42 on 11 November 2008, which gave rise to Operation Atalanta. This resolution stipulated that the operation was intended to contribute to the deterrence, prevention, and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia. The resolution sets out a number of objectives that focus on: protecting vessels chartered by the World Food Programme (WFP), merchant vessels operating in areas where the operation is deployed and monitoring areas off the coast of Somalia, including territorial waters.
The EU was thus moving from its traditional role as a mere peacebuilder to defend its member states interests. It should be noted that the contribution of the European states to Atalanta was made on a voluntary basis, as is the case with all CSPD operations. Accordingly, while some member states sent troops to the battlefield, other countries contributed to the direction of the operations from Northwood headquarters. Denmark, for instance, acted within the framework of NATO and Norway, even though it is not a member, signed cooperation agreements with the EU to participate in the mission (Sánchez-Barrueco, 2013: 242).
It is essential to understand that the EU’s decision to intervene in Somalia is not due to altruistic positions, but that there is a whole series of interests. Firstly, the continued attacks on the Gulf of Aden hit the EU’s main maritime trade route with the Indian Ocean. Secondly, instability in the waters of Somalia also prevented access to the enormous fishery resources of the western Indian Ocean. Finally, Brussels was aware of the danger posed by instability in such an important geopolitical area as the Horn of Africa, a situation that could spread to its neighbors in the region and the potential danger of Somalia becoming a safe haven for increasingly organized terrorist groups.
Additionally, it should be borne in mind that the EU has always sent missions on a multilateral basis, since it is not possible to provide security in the different countries of Africa without the support of other international organisations such as NATO, the AU or the UN. Alongside Operation Atalanta, NATO sent Operation Ocean Shield’ and other Security Council states such as China and Russia also participated on their own, as did Japan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, India and Yemen. Obviously, this was not a one-off measure by Somalia, but the sum of emergency operations by different states and organisations with common interests in relation to fisheries and trade (Trumbull, 2010: 17).
Atalanta, which was originally designed for one year, has been renewed over the years and reached its twelfth anniversary in December 2020. At first it had about 2000 professionals and it was estimated that the annual cost of this company would be 8 million euros. A total of 19 Member States participated in the mission (all except the Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal and Slovakia) as well as non- member countries such as Norway, Montenegro and Ukraine (Julià-Barceló, 2012: 183). During the early years of the mission, the number of attacks did not fall, but even reached an all-time high in 2011. Atalanta’s inability to stop piracy soon revealed that the
operation was only able to contain the problem temporarily. Obviously, piracy could not be solved by sending a military mission to Somali waters. Greater efforts were needed to address the root causes of the problem on the ground, such as development cooperation, humanitarian aid and increased support for the peace process and state reconstruction (Düsterhöft & Gerlach, 2013: 19).
Hence, in line with Requena‟s statement, the mission did not begin to bear fruit until 2012, when the attacks diminished drastically. In this way, pressure from EUNAVFOR and international patrols, the presence of armed guards on ships and the establishment of a system of convoys forced pirates to spread on the Indian Ocean through the use of mother ships (2014: 7). Indeed, the success of the Operation was such that no attacks by Somali pirates on foreign ships were reported between 2015 and 2016 (Chinchilla, 2017: 13). EU Navfor Atalanta proved to be an effective operation, which was producing the expected results as the waters of the Indian Ocean had become completely safe, the arrival of humanitarian aid was facilitated, attacks on trade routes had stopped and safe fishing could be resumed. However, once this operation is dissolved, piracy may flourish again.
This is a fact that has become visible during 2018. NATO chose to withdraw Operation Ocean Shield from the area in December 2016, just three months after the first attacks in two years. Since then, some attacks have been carried out: seven attacks were recorded in 2017 (News 24, 2018, 3 January) and some assaults have also occurred in 2018 (Europa Press, 2018, 23 February). Although none of them were successful and piracy has remained low-profile in recent years, this shows that it is still alive and reflects, likewise, the inability of Somalia to take control of its own waters.
3.2. European Union Training Mission in Somalia (2010-2018)
EUTM Somalia was born with very different objectives from Operation Atalanta as it is based on the training of Somali troops to support the Somali National Army (SNA) and forming competent forces capable of defending the battered security of Somalia and facilitating its governance and stability. It also indirectly fights piracy and terrorism by hindering their movement on the ground.
This mission was born out from the UN’s urgent appeal in Resolution 1872(2009) in which it called on the international community to provide technical and financial support to the Somali security forces. The EU responded with the decision of the Council of the EU 2010/96/CFSP approving the dispatch of a new mission of a different nature that would help Somalia build a strong army. Moreover, the SNA was based on a complicated system of clan-based militias. Furthermore, given the situation in Somalia and the importance of Uganda in AMISOM, it was decided that the mission would initially be based in the Bihanga camp west of Kampala. Indeed, the EUTM is part of the cooperation plans with AMISOM, whose mandate includes the training, mentoring, and restructuring of Somali security institutions. To this end, eleven EU member states (Italy, France, Spain, Great Britain, Hungary, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Romania) and a third state, Serbia, have helped to send troops (Sánchez-Barrueco, 2013: 244).
Focusing on the objectives of the EUTM, it must be said that it seeks to transfer training and education knowledge to the Somali National Security Forces. It constitutes effective action in support of the Somali security development sector. Its purpose is to strengthen Somalia’s security capacities so that the government can regain its full sovereignty, provide essential security services to the population and be the first and only guarantor of security and sovereignty in Somalia. The intended purpose is to establish a
Somali-led training system, including policies and programmes to train its staff and units and specially designed for Somali needs and requirements (Requena, 2014: 8).
However, it should be noted that the mission of the EUTM does not only include the training of troops, but also includes an important training plan in relation to human rights. This is common to EU missions under the CSDP since 2006. In this way EUTM focuses on some standards such as democracy and equal rights regardless of gender or ethnic origin. The training began with Human Rights topic and soldiers received a total of 10 hours of training on these subjects (Lackenbauer & Jonsson, 2014: 21-22). In the case of Somalia, it makes special sense, as the troops recruited were made up of uneducated young people who could become a potential danger when they returned to Somalia and, in addition, have grown up in cultural spaces where female genital mutilation or the death penalty for homosexuals is tolerated.
Moreover, the mission had to think not only about training but also about the maintenance of these troops. The aim was to ensure that trained soldiers effectively joined the TFG’s objectives rather than joining other irregular forces after the mission ended. To do this, it was necessary to ensure that the troops received their wages. Since the start of the mission, Japan and the EU have become the only benefactors to ensure the payment of salaries to some 5000 Somali soldiers (Sánchez-Barrueco, 2013: 244). It should not be overlooked that Uganda is the main contributor to AMISOM and was a key supporter of EUTM. In addition, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) are the largest army in East Africa. This is something that the EU has taken into account and has seen the opportunity to create new ties with this country which will be responsible for continuing the activities of the EUTM once it is repealed (Oksamytna, 2011: 5).
However, during the EUTM stage in Uganda, there were some developments that need to be taken stock of. First, the EUTM has made several decisions that can be considered positive. First, the recruitment and training of women in the military is a basic measure against inequality. According to some women, their role in the military strengthened their social position and gave them the opportunity to improve their living conditions and gain respect (Lackenbauer & Jonsson, 2014: 24) Apart from soldiers, female trainers were also included and they were fully integrated with their peers. However, the number was very low, with only 19 women out of 900 trainers counted.
Besides that, the EUTM has paid special attention to the clan origin of the troops recruited with the aim of ensuring fair representation and preventing the army from being dominated by one group particularly. To find the right candidates, recruitment was in the hands of the TFG and supervised by AMISOM, the United States, UPDF and the EU. Another successful measure was the cultural training programme, which included the recruitment of Somali staff from Kenya as translators and mentors to boost troop morale (Oksamytna, 2011: 9).
Notwithstanding, the latter measure had its own obstacles. The need to use translators created a relationship of dependence on the instructors, who had no control over the messages that, once translated, reached the soldiers. This was mainly due to the fact that the interpreters had not received technical training in human rights vocabulary and gender issues. Furthermore, the fact that the EUTM was under the auspices of the UPFD complicated the training as it was not possible to intervene in human rights violations committed by the Ugandan army. Some of the reports spoke of malnutrition, poor living conditions and ill-treatment of soldiers, which even led to the danger of mutiny. This, moreover, created a contradictory fact. How would the results of the training
in human rights and gender be produced if the soldiers themselves suffered humiliation? (Lackenbauer & Jonnson, 2014: 25).
Finally, in 2014 the EU made a key decision. Given the new circumstances in Somalia, which had achieved greater stability and security, a new phase of the EUTM was beginning and was displaced to Mogadishu. Since 2010, approximately 3,600 Somali soldiers had been trained in Uganda, but then the training was conducted entirely on Somali territory and in direct liaison with the SNA. With this new formative phase, the armies of the member states are contributing to the efforts of Somalia and the international community to achieve long-term security (Requena, 2014: 8).
On 12 December 2016, the Council of the European Union extended the EUTM Somalia until 31 December 2018 with a budget of around 27 million euros for the period from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2018. EUTM has provided political and strategic military advice to the Somali authorities within the defense institutions, as well as specific advice and customized training to contribute to the development of the SNA (EUTM-S, 2018). All this has been accompanied by important changes with the new President Mohammed Abdullah Farmajo who, since his arrival in power in February 2017, implemented a series of reforms to strengthen the army and its control over it. Thus, soldiers were banned from taking their weapons with them after their service and the payment of their wages has been standardized so that they can be paid regularly to the troops (Vecsey, 2016: 137-139).
3.3. European Union Mission on Regional Maritime Capacity Building in the Horn of Africa (2012-2018)
This mission, originally known as EUCAP Nestor and renamed in 2016 as EUCAP Somalia, is the third EU-led mission in Somalia. Unlike the Atalanta and EUTM Somalia missions, this operation has a civilian character, not military. EUCAP was launched following the adoption on 16 July 2012 by the Council of decision 2012/389/CFSP. This mission, which was planned for a period of 24 months with the possibility of renewal, will be running 8 years in December 2020 (EUCAP, 2020). Initially it focused on strengthening the maritime coastguard capabilities of five East African countries off the Indian Ocean, which was linked to the expansion of piracy activities to points further off the coast of Somalia. Thus, it was suggested that Djibouti, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia and Tanzania join the project, although Kenya did not join (EUCAP, 2018).
In the case of Somalia, the aim was to strengthen justice and the rule of law, focusing on some regions such as Somaliland and Puntland. The primary objective of the mission in Somalia was to ensure national capacities in a manner that ensured the security of territorial waters (Díez-Alcalde, 2017: 16) Coastal security forces, prosecutors and judges were trained to facilitate the arrest of pirates. This mission had a budget of 22.8 million euros per year (Sánchez-Barrueco, 2013: 245). In addition to direct collaboration, the EU has supported the reform of the judicial system and financed the salaries of Somali officials.
Without a doubt, one of the great keys to this mission is the joint work with the countries that have access to the sea in the region. The aim of this collaboration would be to form a political, judicial and police structure to act against illegal activities in the Western Indian Ocean. This work focuses on the advice and training of judges, prosecutors, forensic experts, coastal and military agents, so the military profile of this operation is much lower than in the other two operations. The EUCAP Somalia mission is
complementary to the other missions and helps to create structures to combat instability and piracy not only in the maritime but also on land and helps to maintain greater cooperation between the states affected by this phenomenon.
EUCAP does not only work with the central government of Somalia and the surrounding countries, but also with the regional authorities of Somaliland, Puntland and Galmudug. This encourages the synchronization of Somali political institutions at all levels, both federal and regional governments. EU cooperation with the regions could become problematic as Somalia has no de facto control over Puntland, whose coasts have become the main refuge for pirates. Similarly, Somaliland has its own government which declared its independence unilaterally in 1991. Consequently, it can be argued if it is legitimate for the Union to work with a power that is not recognized by the central government (Holla, 2014: 58-59).
EUCAP Somalia is a complementary mission to the other two actions in Somalia, but its objectives are not easy to achieve. First, we must be aware of the very broad scope of this mission and the number of actors who collaborate or are part of it. In addition, this operation relies on the Somali institutions that have been “virtually” reconstructed, as their government does not fully control the territory. Also, there is often a lack of local support because piracy is not the main problem for Somali citizens. Its main concerns are security, the political and economic situation, and humanitarian crises. They are also aware of the danger posed by illegal arms trafficking, human trafficking, and the illegal dumping of waste on their coasts (Ejdus, 2017: 10). Moreover, in many regions piracy has wide local support as it has a positive effect on the development of coastal towns (Holzer & Jürgenliemk, 2012: 9).
Although the EU has insisted on respect for local participation in EUCAP Nestor, some authors have stated that one of the main problems with this mission is that it has been implemented by an external actor and with a very clear top-down sense. Instead of negotiating the main objectives of the mission with the premises, the EU designed EUCAP according to its own needs and interests (Ejdus, 2017: 11).
EU-Navfor Atalanta began with a rather negative balance, as between 2008 and 2011, the number of pirate attacks and hijacked ships increased exponentially. Between 2012 and 2016, however, the number of attacks decreased, until they almost disappeared in the 2015-2016 biennium. However, between 2017-2018 some unsuccessful attacks were recorded. This proves that Atalanta has been an effective mission since Indian Ocean is much safer than ten years ago. It is also true, however, that there is a clear risk and that it has been reinforced by the exit of the Ocean Shield operation. Once the mission is withdrawn, piracy may once again flourish uncontrollably. Furthermore, in order to eliminate piracy, full coordination with the Somali authorities is needed to find a long- term solution.
EUTM Somalia has clearly achieved its main objective of training 5000 soldiers. In addition, human rights training, the recruitment of female trainers and soldiers and the quota-based selection of the Somali population is undoubtedly a great success and demonstrates that the EU is trying to work with much more complex and multidisciplinary realities. However, big mistakes have also been made. The poor conditions and harassment of the soldiers in Uganda reflects the EU’s limited control. Although the inclusion of women has been a success, the total number of female trainers was too low. Likewise, soldiers’ salaries continue to depend on external actors such as United States,
Japan or the EU. This poses a risk to the maintenance of the army, as Somalia cannot depend eternally on foreign aid.
With the organisation of EUCAP-Somalia, the EU took a step further in strengthening the position of the Somali government and its cooperation with its neighbours in the region. These ties would facilitate the joint fight against regional threats such as piracy or terrorism. In addition, the training of judges, prosecutors and police officers can also be a positive development. Despite the obstacles that this latter relationship may create, another strength of EUCAP has been its flexibility in working with other Somali regional actors such as Puntland or Somaliland. EUCAP biggest flaw is that it was tailor-made for the EU and not for Somalia and its people. EUCAP is totally focused on the problem of piracy, forgetting that the concern of the Somali population revolves around other terms. Greater involvement of local actors would therefore have helped to bring the objectives of EUCAP Somalia closer to the reality of the country.
The decline in piracy and the diminishing influence of al-Shabaab in Somalia is a fact. Nonetheless, there is a high risk that once the international community withdraws from the country, problems will remerge. It is therefore necessary to continue working and to have an impact on the reconstruction of peace and state reconstruction, creating a model of a strong state. Additionally, the EU has been aware that the remedy to the Somali problem requires a regional solution and the role of the AU is essential. AMISOM fits into the idea that international community must be supportive but cannot lead alone the reconstruction of the country. Indeed, in recent years, the capacity of African actors to find a way out of their conflicts has become increasingly evident. Despite this, there have been some shortcomings in the European intervention. Firstly, it has been considered that EU missions were designed with self-interest in mind, such as protecting maritime trade vital to the European economy, facilitating access to fishing grounds for vessels and continuing the traditional fight against terrorism.
On top of that, it is true that the EU missions have tried to count on local actors and the country’s institutions, but the intervention has been designed, in general terms, with a top-down model. This pattern was designed without considering the interests of the Somali population, which are, after all, the ones who must decide how they want their state to be rebuilt. Maybe one of the biggest problems for the EU is the everlasting missions that have been launched in Somalia. These missions have been renewed several times, proving that their objectives are still far from being achieved. This is a serious blow to the image of the EU, which is losing credibility as a peace and stability builder.
What should be the EU role in the Horn of Africa? The shift from traditional soft power to more direct intervention has given the EU more international influence than a few years ago, but this also makes it more visible to international threats such as terrorism. The other option is to continue the traditional low-profile role, based on development cooperation, humanitarian aid or financial and technical support to different institutions and states in the region. Obviously these two options are not mutually exclusive. Be that as it may, it is almost thirty years since Somalia became a failed state, and since then the stability of the country and the total reconstruction of state structures has not been achieved. The main requirement to end up with instability is to recover a stable state with the capacity to act on internal problems. To this end, the EU must not forget that Somalia belongs to its citizens, that reconstruction must be an inclusive project and that there are local examples of success, such as Somaliland, which, despite not having international recognition, does have strong state structures.
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