An Update on Maritime Security Threats (November 2012)

2012-11-18 The latest issue of Strategic Insights is available at Second Line of Defense.

The latest Strategic Insights looks at the evolving maritime security situation posed by piracy developments, the fall of Kismayo and its wider impact on Somalia and the region, insurgency in the Niger Delta and the re-opening of the front in terrorism posed in Libya and generally associated with the Arab “Spring.

The Arab “Spring” has proved a fertile soil for the upsurge of terrorism as well as prospects for democratic change. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) re­mains the main terrorist threat in the region and as a group it continues to thrive in and im­pact on both Algeria and Tunisia. It will also likely attempt to exploit the current situation in Libya as the new government establishes in­ternal security.

The issue opens with an editorial ar­ticle from Jay Bahadur, author of The Pirates of Somalia. Bahadur looks at recent efforts to start a law-making pro­cess that would ban pirate ransom payments, beginning in the UK.

Somalia has also been in the news recently following the Kenyan-led offensive to take the port city of Kismayo from al-Shabab. Risk Intelligence’s Stig Jarle Hansen looks behind the scenes of the military operation and finds an important clan dynamic at play.

With defeat in Kismayo, Hansen also considers the future of al-Shabab. The organization will likely shift operations to an insur­gency in the south and will not be defeated in the country­side. Future stability in Somalia’s cities, like Mogadishu, will depend on whether the government can continue to pay its army and police forces.

Of concern, though, is al-Shabab’s apparent intention to morph into an East African organization, rather than a purely Somali group, which has wider implications

Moving to West Africa, the third article in this issue pro­vides a background to insurgency in Nigeria. Alliances and loyalties have been shifting among the militant groups, creating a picture of some complexity. And it is among the disaffected rank-and-file that new threats could emerge. These would likely be focused on onshore and offshore kidnap-and-ransom as well as armed robberies directed at local traffic in the creeks and offshore vessels.

The final article in this issue moves of North Africa and gives an overview of the terrorism situation in Libya, Algeria and Tunisia.

With the regime changes following the so-called Arab spring, the local scene is in flux. Older ‘terrorist’ groups are now occupying the same space as new players, often uniting under new banners, and this article describes the various groups. Al-Qaeda in the Is­lamic Maghreb (AQIM) remains the main terrorist threat in the region and as a group it continues to thrive in and impact on both Algeria and Tunisia. It will also likely at­tempt to exploit the current situation in Libya as the new government establishes internal security.

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