Clashes are expected on Friday, 26 July following an unusual statement by Egyptian General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
On 24 July, al-Sisi, gave a speech at a military graduation ceremony. In the televised speech, he said, “I urge the people to take to the streets this coming Friday to prove their will and give me, the army and police, a mandate to confront possible violence and terrorism. So that in case there was a resort to violence and terrorism, the army would have a mandate to confront this.”
Millions of Egyptians are expected to take to the streets tomorrow in support of the government mandate, as the Muslim brotherhood has been protesting daily, with escalating violence and negative economic impact since the removal of President Mohamed Morsi on 4 July.
While the call for civilian mobilisation is unusual, the reasons behind it may be two-fold. First, it is important for the Egyptian government to prove to Western authorities that they acted legitimately on behalf of the broad majority of Egyptians. The mobilisation of the Egyptians could prove, in a sense, that what the army did on 4 July was not a military-directed coup, but a civilian revolution with assistance from the military. The difference in this language means the difference between deliveries or withdrawals of vital financial aid packages, particularly from the US.
Second, the call for civilian mobilisation follows a bombing conducted in Mansoura on 24 July, which resulted in the death of 1 office, and the injury of 19 officers and civilians. This is the first time a bomb has been detonated in Nile Valley Egypt since 3 July, and is an alarming escalation. While the military has been tolerant of peaceful and even semi-violent protests, the use of gunfire has instigated reaction. The detonation of a bomb, unusual for the region, signals an impact from outside influence, and directly threatens civil order. Intelligence from the region has indicated that weapons have been sent through the Sinai Peninsula in to Egypt, from Gaza.
Meanwhile, Interim President Adly Monsour has taken a step back from the proceedings. He must walk a fine line between providing hopes of re-establishing dialog with the Muslim Brotherhood in order to create an inclusive new government, and reassuring the West that Egypt is on a path to stability and economic improvement.
In his speech, Al-Sisi again urged against public unrest, and called for national reconciliation. However, it is likely that a large turnout of Egyptians on Friday will give the military the “permission” they need to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood. If reconciliation is not a conceivable option for the Brotherhood, who have rejected several opportunities to work with what they term “the false government”, then it is possible that the Egyptian military could consider, once again, driving the group underground as they had done in the 1950s.
As such, clashes and mass arrests are expected on Friday. Those travelling in the region would be advised to refrain from participation in rallies, as violence is expected. Foreigners should also be wary of unscheduled changes to protest destinations or marches between sites.
- 16 July 2013 – Armed pirates in two speedboats approached, boarded and hijacked a Marshall Islands-flagged product tanker, the Ocean Centurion, at 0430 LT, approximately 45 nautical miles south-east of Lome, Togo. They took hostage all the crew members on board the tanker, stole their personal belongings and ordered the Master to sail south and then north towards the Togo/Benin border where they disembarked and escaped via a speedboat, 12 nautical miles from the coastline. The Togo Navy was informed about the hijacking and a patrol boat was dispatched which escorted the tanker to the Lome anchorage for investigation. Two crew members on board the tanker were injured during the incident and were transferred to a clinic for medical attention.
- 14 July 2013 – Officials confirmed on Monday that pirates have seized a Malta-flagged, Turkey-owned tanker, the MV Cotton, off the coast of Port-Gentil, Gabon. The vessel has twenty-four crew members on board, all of which are Indian nationals.
- 19 July 2013 – Vanuatu-flagged, US-operates OSV, the C Viking, reported being attacked by pirates at 01:00 LT near position 04:18 N – 007:46E, Usari field, offshore Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. The crew members on board the OSV were mustered into the citadel; no injuries were reported. Pirates looted the vessel, including the bridge, and destroyed some bridge equipment before departing. This is reportedly the second time that the C Viking was attacked by pirates in the same area.
- 18 July 2013 – Duty Officer on board an anchored USA-flagged bulk carrier, the Liberty Grace, spotted an unlit skiff with 5 – 6 persons on board approaching the bulk carrier at 0150 UTC in position 06:05N – 001:17E, approximately 3 nautical miles off Lome breakwater, Togo. The Duty Officer directed the ship’s search light towards the skiff, raised the alarm and activated the fire hoses. The Togo Navy was called. It was observed by the crew members on board the carrier that the robbers, who were wearing hoods pulled over their heads, were attempting to board the vessel using a pole and hook. Three flares were fired in the direction of the skiff. Seeing the crew members’ alertness, the robbers aborted the attempt and moved away. During the incident, another two skiffs were observed close to the vessel. A Togolese Navy boat later arrived on location. The bulk carrier has been reported as safe.
- 14 July 2013 – Around twenty armed robbers in a speed boat approached and boarded a Gabon-flagged landing craft, the Renovation, while underway at 2246 UTC in position 00:29S – 008:51E, Port Gentil, Gabon. The robbers stole the crew’s personal belongings and escaped. Port maritime authority was notified of the incident. No injuries to the crew members not any damage to the vessel was sustained during the incident.
- 10 July 2013 – Armed security personnel on board an anchored chemical tanker noticed a small boat with an unknown number of persons approaching at 0330 UTC while in position 06:17.8N – 003:21.2E, around 5.4 nautical miles south-west of Fairway Buoy, Lagos Anchorage, Nigeria. As the boat continued its approach to within 50 metres of the vessel, the armed team fired one warning shot, resulting in the boat moving away.
- Gulf of Guinea – Southerly winds of 10 – 15 knots and seas of 4 – 6 feet.
- Extended Forecast – Southerly winds of 10 – 15 knots and seas of 4 – 6 feet.
There were 16 reported incidents during the month of June, 2013. This represents a notable increase compared with May, which was relatively quiet, and highlights the continuing trend of increased piracy in the region. This is over triple the number of incidents occurring in June 2012 and 2011, and is the highest rate of incidents in the month of June since 2008.
All reported incidents occurred in the South East Asian region, with none in the North East Asia or Pacific regions.
Incident Occurrences by Country
Indonesia – 12
Malaysia – 3
India – 1
3rd June, Indonesia – SPAR LIBRA boarded at Maura Jawa anchorage. Unsuccessful attempted robbery.
3rd June, Indonesia – attempted boarding of ATLANTIC CANYON at Belawan Anchorage.
8th June, Indonesia – BANDAI V boarded at Belawan Anchorage. Unsuccessful armed robbery.
9th June, Malaysia – tug PU2417 boarded 6nm off Terengganu. Robbers armed with knives and firearms stole fuel and belongings.
9th June, Malaysia – an unnamed tug 30nm east of Kerteh, Terengganu was boarded by armed pirates, who took all crew members hostage before stealing property.
10th June, Indonesia – ANNA BARBARA boarded and robbed at Taboneo Anchorage.
12th June, Indonesia – attempted robber of SENTOSA RIVER at Senipah Tanker Anchorage, Balikpapan.
13th June, Indonesia – armed robbers boarded EAGLE SAN JUAN and stole property.
13th June, Indonesia – CSK BRILLIANCE boarded at Maura Jawa anchorage. Armed pirates took crew members hostage and stole property. One crew member was injured.
15th June, Indonesia – attempted boarded of EMERALD STAR at Taboneo Anchorage.
16th June, Indonesia – attempted armed robbery of CMA CGM KAILAS at Jakarta Cargo Anchorage.
17th June, Malaysia – KING RIVER boarded 8nm west-northwest of Lutong, Sarawak. Aggressive pirates took hostage and beat most of the crew before escaping with property.
19th June, Indonesia – OCEAN GARNET boarded by armed robbers at Muara Jawa anchorage. Property stolen.
20th June, Indonesia – SENNA JUMBO boarded by armed robbers at Nipah Transit anchorage. One crew member threatened with a knife and property stolen.
27th June, Indonesia – attempted boarding of unnamed tanker at Jakarta Tanker Anchorage.
30th June, India – successful robbery of unnamed tanker at Kandla Inner Anchorage.
The British High Commission has confirmed that a man, who was kidnapped by gunmen on Friday shortly after landing at the international aiport in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, has been released.
On Friday, Wale Adebayo, spokesman at the Deputy High Commission in Lagos, indicated that “there was a kidnapping of a Briton and we are working with the Nigerian authorities.” He had declined to provide further details, including the day the attack occurred. A private security source familiar with the incident indicated on Friday that the British man had been abducted on Tuesday while travelling into the city after landing at the airport. According to the source, the attackers opened fire on the vehicle and “the driver was injured by a gunshot,” before the Briton was seized. There is typically heavy traffic well into the night on most of the roads that lead from the airport in the Ikeja neighbourhood towards central Lagos. However it currently remains unclear where the attack occurred or whether there were any witnesses nearby.
Today, Mr. Adebayo stated that “we can confirm the release of the British national…following his abduction on July 16. The man was released on Sunday and no comments have been made on whether a ransom payment had been made.
The kidnaping for foreigners for ransom is common in Nigeria, particularly around the oil-rich southern coast. There has also been a rise of such incidents occurring in Lagos. In March of this year, a British man, working for the French energy company CGG, was kidnapped in the upscale Victoria Island area of the city. He was released days later. However officials refused to confirm reports that a ransom had been paid for his release. In the oil-producing Niger Delta region, foreigners working in the oil sector are often released following an armed abduction. Their employers and officials typically do not reveal details about ransoms. Foreigners have also been kidnapped in the northern regions of the county, however those attacks are considered difference and have been blamed an Islamist extremists. A Briton was amongst seven foreigners kidnapped in February of this year from a construction site in the northern Bauchi state in an attack that was claimed by the Islamist group Ansaru. Ansaru later posted a video that appeared to show the corpses of some of the hostages. In 2010, 28-year-old Briton Chris McManus was abducted along with an Italian national, Franco Lamolianra, in the northern Kebbi state. They were both killed in the northwestern Sokoto State nearly a year later amidst a rescue operation which had been jointly planned by British and Nigerian authorities and authorized by British Prime Minister David Cameron. That attack was later blamed on Ansaru, a group which is seen as being an offshoot of Boko Haram.
Two Spanish aid workers, who were kidnapped in Kenya nearly two years ago and held in neighbouring Somalia, have been freed according to their employer.
In a statement that was released by Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the organization confirmed that the two women are both “safe and healthy and keen to join their loved ones as soon as possible….Once again, MSF strongly condemns this attack on humanitarian workers who were in Dadaab offering life saving medical assistance to thousands of refugees.” MSF indicated that it would give any further details before a press conference which has been scheduled in Madrid on Friday. Montserrat Serra (40) and Blanca Thiebaut (30) were kidnapped on 13 October 2011 by gunmen who opened fire on their vehicle inside the Dadaab refugee camp complex. Their Kenyan driver was shot and wounded. At the time of the kidnapping, Kenyan police had stated that they had been seized by members of Somalia’s Islamist al-Shabaab group, however no group has actually claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. Just days later, Kenya deployed its troops into neighbouring Somalia in order to fight al-Shabaab militants.
Dadaab, said to be the world’s largest refugee camp, houses some 500,000 people who have fled years of conflict and drought across the border in Somalia. MSF, which at the time of the kidnapping had 49 foreign and 343 local staff in Dadaab, has since reduced its activity there to a minimum. Both women were working as logisticians for MSF in Dadaab. Ms. Serra, a qualified teacher from Girona, Spain, had been working in Kenya for two months before she was kidnapped. She had previously worked on aid projects in Latin America and Yemen. Ms. Thiebaut, from Madrid, had recently completed a degree at the London School of Economics and is an agricultural engineer by training.
The abduction of the Spaniards followed the kidnapping of a French woman and a British woman from the Kenyan coast near the Somali border. Briton Judith Tebbut, in her late fifties, was seized from a remote Kenyan resort on 11 September 2011, by armed men who killed her husband David. She was released in March 2012 after being held for more than six months. A ransom was reportedly paid by her son. Marie Dedieu, 66 and partially paralyzed, was seized from her beachfront home in the Lamu archipelago on 1 October 2011. She was reported dead later that month, with French officials stating that the death was probably due to her having been deprived of essential medication by her kidnappers. On 25 October 2011, two aid workers with the Danish Refugee Council were seized by armed men in Galkayo in north-central Somalia. They were freed during a raid that was launched by US Commandos in January 2012. Meanwhile in January of this year, al-Shabaab fighters killed a French hostage, an intelligence agent known under the pseudonym Denis Allex who was held since 2009, during a botched rescue attempt by French forces. A colleague of Mr. Allex, who was kidnapped at the same time, managed to escape in August 2009. A Briton and Kenyan, who were employed by an Indian subcontractor of a UN agency and who were kidnapped in southern Somalia in 2008, are feared dead. While an American national kidnapped in January 2012 is still being held.
Meanwhile thirty-nine seamen of various nationalities from the Naham 3, a fishing vessel that was captured in March 2012, along with crew members from two other boats, are still being held in Somalia. The fate of a further fifteen crew members, whose vessel, the MV Albedo, sunk early last week, remains unknown.