April 28, 2012 Saturday 10:34 PM EST
As EU Proposes to Shoot 2 Km Into Somalia, No Comment on Halliday Finch
By Matthew Russell LeUNITED NATIONS, April 27 — When the European Union held a briefing Friday about its naval force off Somalia, by Operation ATALANTA commander Admiral Duncan Potts, it seemed the time to ask about reported EU plans to pursue pirates, at least by air, up to two kilometers inland. The German media Die Welt has reported:
“Last Wednesday, the [German] Federal Cabinet approved a mandate [that] states that ‘German forces can go inland from the beach for a maximum of 2,000 meters to reach logistics sites set up by the pirates.’ German helicopters can thus engage in air attacks against pirate boats, weapons or fuel storage installations up to 2 km in from the beaches.”
But when Inner City Press asked Potts about this proposal, he said Die Welt’s reporting was “incorrect.” He told Inner City Press, “I wouldn’t focus too much on the two kilometers. We want to create the perception in the mind of the pirates that they can no longer act with impunity from beaches of Somalia. It’s about the perception of impunity rather than a kinetic effect.”
But it still seems that the way the EU wants to “create this perception” is to shoot guns, from helicopters, up to two kilometers inside Somali territory.
Afterward Somalia’s Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that this is a problematic proposal, that their might be people hurt who are not pirates. He and his counterpart from Ethiopia came to the session, but both perceived it to be for journalists or other EU diplomats only.
To their credit they ultimately spoke up, and stayed afterward questions Potts, who answered by referring to a letter from Sheik Sharif to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Will “General” Ban Ki-moon give his blessing to these helicopter strikes inside Somalia?
Already, Ban’s UN is using the private military contractor Saracen for its Congo mission’s operations in Uganda. (The Department of Peacekeeping Operations under Herve Ladsous, who had also proposed the UN’s use of drones, had promised to provide a fuller answer about UN use of private security firms but then stopped responding.)
Back on March 30, Inner City Press asked Ban’s deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey:
Inner City Press: On Somalia, there are reports saying that the Transitional Federal Government has contracted with a private security firm based in Nairobi called Halliday Finch to patrol its coast. I wanted to know, one, whether there is any UN involvement – whether Mr. [Augustine P.] Mahiga is aware of this, whether this constitutes the use of mercenaries…
Deputy Spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey: No, we’ll have to get information on that; I don’t have anything with me on that.
The UN has yet to get or provide any information on this. But on April 5, Inner City Press received a reply of sorts from the spokesman for Halliday Finch:
Date: Thu, Apr 5, 2012 at 4:05 AM
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at] innercitypress.com
From: Stephen Harley, Director of Communications Halliday Finch
Dear Mr Lee, Allow me to introduce myself – my name is Stephen Harley and I am the Director of Communications for Halliday Finch, the East Africa-based security provider you referred to in your 03 APR 12 article, ‘At UN on Somalia, Diplomat Admits Probe & Firing, Mercenaries Not Known’ and in other entries. We greatly appreciate your interest in our activities in support of the TFG’s initiative to establish a national coast guard service. However, we are certainly not ‘mercenaries,’ nor do we employ any personnel who have ever been ‘mercenaries’. Halliday Finch is a provider of security services with extensive experience in Africa delivering training, static and mobile security (including escorting various senior politicians and celebrity humanitarians) and risk assessment. We are already a recognized UN vendor (and have provided services to the UN in Sudan and Somalia as a result). As you are aware, only last week Halliday Finch, contracted by UN ODC, safely transferred 17 convicted pirates as part of regional judicial arrangements on piracy between the governments of the Seychelles and the Somaliland authorities.
Furthermore, the international community is fully aware of and in agreement with our support (primarily training and logistics) to TFG coastguard program. We can only assume that some UN staff in New York, with so many other issues to address, may not be aware of the program – key international players in East/Horn of Africa (UN POS, UN ODC, the EU, the various national embassies) certainly are.
We are still in the set-up period of the project and have yet to conduct any activities that would be relevant to the arms embargo. Rest assured, when we reach that phase of the project, all activities will be in complete concordance with the legislation and with the approval of the relevant international entities.
Should you require further information regarding our support to the TFG coastguard program or any of Halliday Finch’s other activities, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to reading further articles on the subject of Somalia and East/Horn of Africa in the future,
Yours aye, Stephen Harley
Halliday Finch International
Given the reference not only to “celebrity humanitarians” but also to the EU, Inner City Press on April 27 asked the EU’s Admiral Potts about the TFG’s use of Halliday Fitch, as well as Saracen.
Potts replied, “I’m going to be unhelpful. I am aware of, we take a keen interest in those other actors in the maritime space. It’s not for me to comment on other nation’s policies.”
No – just to fly two kilometers in, guns blazing. But to comment on the use of private military firms, and how this might implicate or need the approval of the UN’s Somalia / Eritrea Sanctions Committee? No, then the EU, or at least Admiral Potts, will not “comment on other nation’s policies.” At least for now. Watch this site.