21 November 2011 - NATO PARLIAMENTARIANS IN DJIBOUTI DISCUSS NATO OPERATIONS OFF THE HORN OF AFRICA
A delegation from the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, comprising 20 members from nine NATO member states, visited Djibouti on 14-17 November 2011 to discuss NATO operations off the Horn of Africa, visit military installations engaged in these efforts, and explore a range of security, political and economic challenges in the broader region.
Rear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi, Commander of NATO's counter piracy task force briefed the delegation on NATO’s counter-piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield. During a visit to the flagship of the NATO taskforce, ITS Andrea Doria, participating parliamentarians learned that on-going counter-piracy operations have reduced the number of pirate attacks in the region, but will not be positioned to eliminate the problem completely as long as the root causes remain unaddressed. Somalia is a failed state and its government exercises no control over vast swathes of the country, including a coastline from which many of these attacks are currently launched. Moreover, the area of pirate operations is so vast that several speakers likened the naval challenge to policing Europe with thirty police cars. To date, there has been no decision to engage Somalian pirates on land.
Rear Admiral Thomas Jugel, Force Commander of the EU NAVFOR “Atalanta” (Task Force 465) completed the extensive briefings on the anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean. In those discussions, it was learned that rules of engagement and current international law significantly shape the manner in which international military forces are engaging pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.
Regional security issues and their relevance for Alliance security were discussed in meetings with Rear Admiral Michael T. Franken, Commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HoA), General William Kurtz, Commander of the French Forces in Djibouti (FFDJ) and Mr Nicola Delcroix, Ambassador of the European Union in Djibouti. These discussions revealed how important the development-security nexus is in this region and the extent to which Western military forces operating in the region need to incorporate considerations of development challenges in their work there.
Composed of the Political Committee’s Sub-Committee on NATO Partnerships, and the Assembly’s Special Mediterranean and Middle East Group, the delegation also met with senior representatives of the government and the parliament of Djibouti, including Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mahamoud Ali Youssou, the Chief of Staff, General Fathi Ahmed Houssein as well as with Mr Idriss Arnaoud Ali, Speaker of the Parliament.
The role of the African Union (AU) in regional security and particularly in Somalia as well as NATO-AU and EU-AU Co-operation were also on the agenda. In addition, representative from the IMF, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the World Food Programme briefed the delegation on economic conditions in the region, regional trade patterns, and persistent and serious famine in Eastern Africa.
A more detailed report on the visit will be available shortly.