The Geopolitical Analysis of Piracy in the Horn of Africa

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor of Political Geography, Faculty of Geography, University of Tehran, Iran

2 PhD Candidate in Political Geography, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran

3 PhD Candidate in Political Geography, Islamic Azad University, Somesara Branch, Iran


After the Cold War II, geostrategic face took on a geo-economic domain. This means that on the world stage, military competition replaced by economic competition. Hence, the geopolitical divisions and geographic areas were classified based on their economic importance and competition was intensified around the area. Given that the Earth is covered by water and based on the Mahan theory states with better access to water, can prevail on the world; this is also the first aim of maritime trade security strategy of the United States. Thus, they began the development of its navy. Today, the seas are considered as a supplier of security. Since maritime transport is in the event of any significant component of the world geo economy structures, it is required to stay safe and in stable form. Therefore, United States attempts to provide maritime security in different regions according to their essential role on the ground.
The importance of the Horn of Africa during the Cold War due to the fact that this region was considered as local superpower competition for influence on Africa. At the present time the marine area as local to maritime transport has severe insecurity by national Somali pirate activity in the route of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean in East Somalia. Attacks to cargo ships and passenger and crew hostage by advanced communication equipment and modern weapons create the suspicion in the area.  This endangered the important geo-economic area to form an organized piracy despite the government efforts in preventive measures and sending warships to support their respective ships, especially in the eastern regions of Somalia in the Indian Ocean. In this paper, we strive to be a geopolitical analysis of piracy in the Horn of Africa. The strategy of the United States in this area and the reasons for the increased risk of maritime traffic reduce transportation security in the region despite America's military presence. One of the most important subjects that US undertake to maintain and establish economic security is to ensure the security of sea commerce. It is resulting from water pivotal role as World Peace Establisher. This emphasizes on US impression as the sea super power of the world for confrontation with challenge and threats removal with the use of its military sea bases.
To consider the polluted regions of piracy in the world, there are some points like South East Asia, Gulf of Guinea, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Adan and Somalia Waters. The Horn of Africa is more important of them, because modern and organized piracy expansion especially by Somalian Pirates could endanger the sea traffic in the Gulf of Adan and Indian Ocean. It seems the absence of strong sovereignty structures in the Horn of Africa countries has a plenty of effects on more convulsive situations.
In this study, we considered pirates activities in the Horn of Africa with analytical-descriptive procedure and tries to answer this question: What is the impression of pirate activities on region geopolitics? And it analyzes how did the attacks increase despite of countries preventive policies in military support of their ships? it can be argued that the US avoids decisively to encounter with these organized attacks despite of military dominance on the marine  regions and the reason for the policy is to keep other countries dependent on its power.
This is an analytical- descriptive research using the library- and also utilizes the existing map to analyze the position of the Horn of Africa in world geo-economic structures. Pirate activity leading to increased risk of maritime transportation in the region. Review helps analyze the strategy notes and the United States as a supplier of maritime trade security in the region.
Results and Discussion
It can be discussed that the pirates utilize advanced equipment and logistical support in the Horn of Africa. The ecological situation in the region and the Horn of Africa can be helpful for the pirates. Motivation and increase in the status of the people of the region and their efforts are to strengthen the piracy in the region. The benefits from these piracy activities are other issues that have been addressed. The strategy of United States in this phenomenon has been noted in Somalia and terrorism.
The peninsula of Somalia is weak point for the Horn of Africa countries. The scale of influence in Africa provides a strategic way. Somalia will not face the future with a clear vision. This maritime security and piracy and maritime terrorism is today linked with each other. This may affect the future prospects of the energy, organic sources, Islamic fundamentalism and etc. The future of this region can be found in two different scenarios:
1. In the first scenario, weak and unstable governments, land issues, arms competitions, the growth of militarism and development of ethnic and tribal conflicts can influence extremist terrorist bases in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia. Most importantly, low index of economic, social and human development, the possibility of regional unrest and the subsequent expansion of pirate activity will bring the ultimate objective of United States in the region and create unsafe soft power for the country to justify their presence.
2. In the second scenario, the prospects for the region, providing education and population can reduce violence and conflict prediction. This may be the only way to alleviate this evil. In the one hand, employment indices for regional development, on the other hand, the powerful governments that have surrounded the national territory to fulfill our international commitments require the attention of the international community to promote the social welfare of the people of these areas.
Non-opposition to such military powers during the Cold War will continue for the time being. This means the multiplicity of local actors and tensions in the region of the Horn of Africa. Although the creation of regional or global alliances and unions in the fight against piracy and maritime terrorism is positive approach but these activities were not totally eliminate the insecurity arising from the activities of pirates. The result of these changes may merely reduce the intensity of the conflict, especially reducing piracy or transfers them to other areas. Conditions are favorable for the growth of insecurity despite United States military dominance in the region and on other world maritime trade routes. As long as the threat of piracy and terrorist activities threatening the country maritime interests it is not useful to apply a dual policy.


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