The exercises are being conducted for the fourth time and definitely not for the last time. Fighting piracy is still one of the most important issues on the international agenda. Constant patrolling of commercial ships near the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden by combat ships of different countries, including Russia, had an effect. At least this year the number of reports about seizures of new ships has decreased. But it is still too early to say that the problem of piracy will be solved in the near future.
Dozens of ships and hundreds of sailors remain pirates’ hostages. Considering that the places where pirates keep their prisoners are known, the question comes to mind – why aren’t the international forces organizing a military operation to free them? Moreover, several years ago the UN Security Council agreed with the Somalia government on the resolution which allowed international military ships to attack pirates not only off the coast of Somalia but also on the territory of the country and in its air space. So far there have been no reports about preparations for such a mission.
The process of drafting the international legal base to try pirates is also going slowly. Nevertheless the countries that capture pirates have begun to apply tougher measures to punish them. For example, recently a court in the US has ordered a Somali pirate to serve a dozen life sentences in prison and pay a multimillion dollar fine.
But modern “corsairs” are not going to give up their profitable business. Even according to the most modest estimations, only in 2011 Somalia pirates became richer by $135 million. Although they have become less active on the east coast of Africa they have spread their activities to the West. Naval experts say that the Western coast of Africa, in particular the Gulf of Guinea, is a very risky zone for navigation. So there are grounds to believe that drills similar to the current Northern Eagle exercises will continue.
By the way, next week another eagle is to take off namely the “Vigilant Eagle”. These are also a trilateral drills which involve the air forces of the US, Canada and Russia. The drills are focused on interaction in the air space in crisis situations linked with terrorist attacks and piracy.