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  • Writer's pictureShaun Robertson

What Is The Potential Fallout of OPERATION ATALANTA Ending?

Operation Atalanta has been pivotal in providing security in the horn of Africa. Towards the end of 2020, the decision was made to extend the mandate of the EU security operation to December 31st 2022. Now that date is rapidly approaching. This article will discuss what Operation Atalanta has achieved and the potential fallout of its conclusion.



At the height of Somali piracy, Operation Atalanta was introduced by the EU on December 8th 2008 and named after a mythical Greek huntress. The purpose of the operation was to curtail piracy off the coast of Somalia and surrounding international waters.


Other goals for the operation also included protecting UN World Food Programme shipments to Somalia and stopping illicit trades such as narcotics and arms dealing, which financed terror groups such as Al-Shabab.


Curtailing illegal fishing was also a goal of the operation, in addition to transferring pirates to countries for prosecution.


"The purpose of the operation was to curtail piracy off the coast of Somalia and surrounding international waters".


As part of a three-pronged strategy for development in Somalia, Operation Atalanta was grouped with the EU Training, Mentoring and Advising mission and the EU Capacity Building mission. Both missions aim to build competency in the Somalia security services from the coast guard, navy, police and Ministry of Security.


Therefore, all three missions together aim to provide a foundation for the Somalian government to provide for their security by training their forces, getting advice and intelligence and having EU warships help patrol whilst this process goes on.

However, these three missions are to end on December 31st 2022. The ending of these missions could indicate a few things, such as that the Somalians are ready to take care of their security or that piracy and other crimes have lessened to a degree to which EU intervention is no longer required.


The ending of UN Security Resolution 2608, which allowed international forces to operate in Somalia's territorial waters, may also have played a part in the decision not to renew the Operation Atalanta mandate as it would limit the effectiveness of the forces involved.


"Operation Atalanta was grouped with the EU Training, Mentoring and Advising mission and the EU Capacity Building mission. Both missions aim to build competency in the Somalia security services from the coast guard, navy, police and Ministry of Security".


Whatever the case, it does not appear that a renewal will happen and that Operation Atalanta and its partner EU missions will all end at the end of the year.


So what are the potential consequences of the ending of Operation Atalanta? Given the current data provided by the UKTMO and IMO, piracy in the Gulf of Aden and surrounding areas appear to be almost non-existent compared to the levels seen during the operation's inception.

Piracy mainly comes from areas associated with Houthi rebels in Yemen, indicating the success of Atalanta and its sister operations. However, as terrorism and other crimes are not ended, and the sister operations will remove training from the Somalia security forces, it is unclear if the situation will stay this way.



The growth of instability in the country could lead to piracy becoming rampant again, so it is now up to Somalia to keep things in order where the international community has helped for so long.


Overall, Operation Atalanta was highly successful in reducing piracy in Somalia. When it comes to an end in 2023, the situation must be closely monitored to ensure instability does not become rampant. However, the fact that the EU is confident in ending the operation should be a good sign that the Somalian security forces are up to the task.


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