Khaleej Times 30 October 2014
Muaz Shabandri/Staff Reporter
The nexus of criminal groups, violent extremists and weak states will require a coordinated response from governments and the private sector, says UAE Foreign Minister.
UAE’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan called on the international community to continue supporting anti-piracy operations and strengthen the fight against militant groups like Al Shabab.
“The battle is far from won. Unfortunately, there are some worrisome signs. Off the coast of Somalia, the number of naval forces is slowly shrinking, armed teams are getting smaller and merchant ships are drifting closer to dangerous areas. We cannot be lulled into complacency,” said the foreign minister.
His comments came at the opening session of the fourth counter-piracy conference hosted in Dubai. Shaikh Abdullah called for a ‘co-ordinated response’ against terrorist groups which present ‘new threats’.
“As groups like Daesh (ISIS) develop ties to criminal networks and arms networks, it is essential that we prevent them from expanding their operations into the sea and threatening vital channels such as the Strait of Hormuz, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The nexus of criminal groups, violent extremists and weak states will require a coordinated response from governments and the private sector.”
The UAE has been a long-standing partner of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. The annual counter-piracy conference brings together global maritime security experts, foreign ministers, shipping companies and naval security forces to promote cooperation in the fight against pirates.
“The UAE has always been at the forefront of leading this region in counter-piracy efforts. We have also promoted the public-private approach, bringing together governments, militaries and private industry to develop a multi-layered response. This has resulted in improved best practices in maritime security as well as increased information sharing,” he said.
Somalia’s Foreign Minister Dr Abdirahman Duale Beyle lauded the UAE for playing a key role in countering the effects of a prolonged civil war.
“If you continue your support to Somalia, we can go back to peace and progress. Piracy attacks have declined substantially and the Somali government is working to track, negotiate and release seafarers who have been held hostage,” said the minister.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman of DP World said: “Somalia has moved from emergency to recovery and they want to be part of that recovery. And while they look to the international community to invest in Somalia, they will not look to the international community to ‘fix’ their country — they will do that themselves.”