23 July 2011

A War Without Declaration

EU-NAVFOR (European Navy Forces) - 'Mission Atalanta': A War Without Declaration

The defendants in the so-called 'Pirate Trial' were, on 5th April 2010, attacked on the German containership Taipan by a Dutch warship, the Tromp. Heavy weapons were used and the defendants were held captive for a week on board thr Tromp as they were transported to Mogadischu. During this time highly questionable interrogations, described later as just harmless 'conversations', took place. The person who conducted the interrogations later admitted to being an officer of the Dutch Naval Intelligence. And the former captain of the Tromp received a medal for his 'special services to the navy'.

The captain boasted in court that on his own initiative the Tromp left the area that was controlled by the EU NAVFOR – Atalanta mission, but later acted in consultation with Atalanta. The operation used one of the Tromp's two helicopters, carrying a special commando team, to board the Taipan. The commando members later appeared in court disgused and using false names.

Since December 2008, the main role of the EU NAVFOR - Atalanta, the first joint European military deployment, has been to protect 'humanitarian deliveries to Somalia' and whilst doing so to capture pirates. As well as the Netherlands, countries currently participating in the military deployment are France, Spain, Greece, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Great Britain and, not to forget, Germany. During the Tromp action, a German reconnaissance aircraft filmed both the initial attack on the Taipan and the action of the Dutch. German warships are also involved in Atalanta, one of which was recently welcomed in Hamburg.

Portugal, Luxembourg and Estonia help with the Atalanta logistics in the mission headquarters in Djibouti and further involved are Cyprus, Rumania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Ireland and Finland as suppliers for Atalanta. Naturally, Atalanta also cooperates with NATO.

Of the 213 million Euro, approved at a 'donors' conference' for Atalanta in Brussels, in April 2009, only 2% has been used for non-military purposes. The European defense industry is already the winner. Nevertheless, the Swiss Parliament rejected a request to participate on the grounds that the Atalanta mission was “a war wtihout declaration” and that Switzerland remains ever neutral.

The EU Parliament has extended the original time limit of the mission until December 2012 and Germany continues to be involved, although the covert war effort, in 2009 alone, cost the taxpayer 43.1 million Euro.

Critics of the Operation, for example, Bremen Professor of Sea Law, Peter Irminger, or the former 'Maritime Coordinator' of the International RedCross, Michel Diot (himself a former ship officer), doubt its efficiency. In order to really combat piracy around Somalia, they say it would require the development of a functioning civil society in Somalia. The Atalanta-Operation costs 'just costs money and achieves nothing'. Obviously, the mission has other more important purposes, which includes having Somalia stay in its current state.