View Full Version : The Gulf of Guinea and West Africa: a new focal point?

01-01-2010, 01:21 AM
Moderator at work

This thread should be read alongside the thread on Mali and drugs in West Africa:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=9254

With the reported growth in piracy off West Africa a new thread was started 21st October 2013, 'West African piracy: an old problem escalates' and eight maritime / piracy posts have been copied from this thread to there (ends).

Have been working a bit in west Africa recently and am worried about prospects of backsliding in the region. Elections coming up in Liberia in '10 and population tired of talk and no action. Guinea is unstable and could get worse. Senegal isn't in great shape. Nigeria continues to struggle and current president has health problems. I'm a novice here and probably mistating things, but am interested in hearing from older hands on prospects in west Africa in 2010.

04-15-2010, 08:20 PM
A good IMHO article by a known African specialist, Stephen Ellis:
A fusion of illicit money-making and radical politics is turning the big empty spaces of the western half of the Sahara into a profound security challenge.

Ends with:
The Europeans need to focus much more attention on what really happens in the Sahara.

Simply cannot see that happening.


There is another thread on Mali, a little known country in the Sahara: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=9254

Colin Robinson
04-16-2010, 02:13 AM
In regard to Liberia, some indications I picked up during my research there in mid 2009 indicated that the former Americo-Liberian families are reasserting some level of power. No one in the current political equation in Liberia can break themselves free from some level of predisposition toward 'normal' being the peaceful, but oligarchic, times of the 1970s under Tolbert and Tubman.

M-A Lagrange
04-16-2010, 07:54 AM
MAkes a long time I have been in West Africa but regard to Liberia, historically it should be US responsability to stabilize the place and avoid that the conditions of 1980 coup and 1989 civil war come back.

Unfortunately, I must agree with Mr Ellis. West Africa use to be in the interrest of european. For pity political choice, often not really very smart, it has gone out of the interrest of former colonial powers (cf French for instance) and it's a shame.

On the particular issue of stability, I would recommand the last publication from M-A Perousedemontclos. I knowhim a little and he is someone with a brilliant regard on Africa.

Sub-Saharan African hopes of democratization raised by the end of the cold war and the decline in the number of single party states are giving way to disillusionment. Today, even countries such as Senegal and South Africa, reputed for their democratic nature, are threatening to veer towards authoritarianism. But recent events in Mauritania, Niger and Guinea-Conakry should not lead to an error of interpretation. These countries are not representative cross-section. At the continental level, the heavy trend notices a decrease in the number of successful or attempted coup d'état, even in such countries as the Comoros or Nigeria, where they were a "tradition" and figures have reached world record levels. As we will see in the first part of this paper, the continent’s political track record is not completely negative; most Africans are now ruled by regimes that are neither military juntas nor parliamentary democracies. Most of the African states maneuver in a dreary zone between peace and war, where populations face daily insecurity. Some American researchers name these more or less failed states as “anocracies”, characterized by:

Non-existent or virtual central authority (Somalia, Central African Republic),
Governments still threaten that civil war could resume (Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burundi and even Angola),
High levels of violence and corruption which impoverish public services, fuel a feeling of frustration and increase social inequalities when they do not allow a better share from the revenues of the natural resources (Nigeria, both Congo),
Contested and badly legitimized powers (Zimbabwe), sometimes with non-resolved internal tensions (Cameroon, Ethiopia),
Recurring regional tensions and parliamentary systems that do not work properly due to massive electoral fraud and candidates picked by processes of co-option (Nigeria, Ethiopia, Rwanda)
Nigeria is a classic example of such a society and the subject of the second part of this paper. The most populated country in Africa, Nigeria lives off its petrol; there is fierce competition with no holds are barred over the spoils. The country’s elections are a sort of masquerade, ineffectually hiding the systems of government and “godfatherism” that in reality are based on new politicians being co-opted into the ruling elite. Nigerians aren’t stupid however, and no longer believe in the benefits of democracy, ironically referred to as “democrazy”.

The failure of political reforms in Africa is also an indictment of the international community’s limited ability to influence events in the region, particularly for its help with “good governance”. Political models exported by the West have revealed themselves to not always be up to the task of democratizing Africa. The third part of this paper will closely analyze the international community’s preconceptions in this area: an excessive focus on the moment of elections to the detriment of day-to-day political behavior; illusions about correlations between development, democratization, conflict prevention and political stability; misleading beliefs in the merits of NGOs and “civil” society, etc. Under the pretext of improving the governance of countries in difficulty, western donors have in fact tried to bypass corrupt administrations, risking “emptying” of public authorities of their substance. Nowadays, development policies are changing and we are bearing witness to the return to favor of the African state. For better or for worse: all too often international aid ends up propping up presidential power cliques and poorly legitimized regimes.

Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos is a Senior Researcher at IRD (Development Research Institute, France) and Doctor in Political Sciences from Political Studies School of Paris (IEP Paris) His area of expertise concerns armed conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa. He lived many years in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya and continues field researches in Africa. He wrote many books and articles, notably on Nigeria, South Africa, Somalia and Humanitarian aid.


Rex Brynen
05-15-2010, 09:19 PM
The BBC has a very interesting interview with General Sir David Julian Richards on Operation Palliser (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Palliser), Britain's intervention in Sierra Leone in May 2000:

The brigadier who saved Sierra Leone (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/8682505.stm)

BBC, 15 May 2010 12:01 UK

In 2002, Sierra Leone emerged from a decade-long civil war and as Allan Little discovers, much of it was thanks to a little-known British brigadier.

The Paras had been sent to Freetown to simply evacuate foreigners
It was an astonishing thing to witness: the fortunes of a whole country transformed in the space of a few days by a single, decisive intervention.
Eight hundred British paratroopers landed at Freetown airport just as the city was about to slip into the terrifying chaos of a rebel invasion and suddenly, unexpectedly, the shape of Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war was altered.
Or so it seemed to me at the time.

It was, in fact, a little more haphazard than that. And, I've subsequently learned, the British reporters on the ground in West Africa - myself included - seem, unwittingly, to have played a small part in it all.

In the report, Richards notes that he systematically expanded the mission from evacuation of foreign nationals to full-fledged intervention, without initially informing his superiors of the shift:

At that meeting, held within hours of the British landing in Sierra Leone, Richards promised the president that Britain would supply arms and ammunition to the government forces.

British helicopters would be made available to move men and material around the battlefield.

And he, General Richards, would, with a small team of British staff officers, take personal command of the war and seek to end it by defeating the rebel forces. In other words, Richards was committing Britain to taking sides in Sierra Leone's civil war.

However, there was one important difficulty. The general's political bosses in London had sent him to carry out a quick evacuation and then leave.

"So," I asked him 10 years on, "you were promising the president all this before you had the political authority from London to do so?"

"Er, yes," he said, "I'm afraid I was, yes."

War plans

For several days, the political leaders in London stuck with the evacuation narrative, while their man on the ground got on with fighting a war.

"Fortunately," he told me, "the military activities and equipment we needed for an evacuation were remarkably similar to what I needed to push back the rebel forces. So in terms of constructing a tale for London, that was useful."

"So wait a minute," I said, "London was kitting you up for a quick evacuation operation, and you decided to use that kit to intervene in the war?"

"Yes," he said.

08-20-2010, 07:30 AM
SWC have touched upon the potential for trouble in West Africa, Guinea and the waters offshore - the Gulf Of Guinea, where there is more piracy than off Somalia and oil shipments go AWOL.

Taken from a commercial offering:

The Gulf of Guinea is staring at a precipice of regional maritime insecurity. The continuing economic, social and political impact is pronounced and will continue unless there is focused investment in both manpower and resources by more capable outside nations or organisations. The loss of $2 billion US to the local annual economy - from offshore oil, fishing, and commercial shipping - is too large a price to pay for a region which is spasmodically emerging from decades of civil war and anarchy.

The region produces 5.4 million barrels of oil per day, and it contains 50.4 billion barrels of proven reserves. Nigeria now supplies 10% of US imported oil and is the world’s eighth largest oil exporter. Events in Afghanistan and Somalia illustrate the dangers that come from the nexus between organised crime, terrorism and failed/failing states. While many look to Africa for an African solution to retake control of their seas, they can’t achieve this without timely Western assistance.

Our collective inactivity is the product of a paucity of constabulary platforms and hamstrung political will which fractures any hope of a comprehensive approach to the problem. So perhaps if we were to learn a lesson or two from Somalia and Afghanistan rather than just identify them, shouldn’t our militaries provide a gentle hand on the tiller and guide the people of the Gulf of Guinea towards a more secure and stable future?

From my armchair this is an issue far beyond the waters and yet again an implied Western naval deployment. Nor setting up local coastguard etc.

Not to overlook the impact of cocaine trafficking.

08-20-2010, 12:28 PM
"So perhaps if we were to learn a lesson or two from Somalia and Afghanistan rather than just identify them...."

Impact of cocaine trafficking might be degraded if we learned a lesson from LATAM:


08-20-2010, 03:13 PM
...shouldn’t our militaries provide a gentle hand on the tiller and guide the people of the Gulf of Guinea towards a more secure and stable future?

The expression “secure and stable” is open to interpretation, and when spouted in the US it often lends itself to exporting democracy. As someone more inclined to the realist persuasion, for me “secure and stable” will translate into strongman type leaders. They are conflicting approaches and both have their flaws, but this clash is inevitable with an open-ended expression like “secure and stable”.

Tom Odom
08-20-2010, 03:48 PM
Credible politicians and elections are also vital to public integrity. Accordingly, West African states should devise systems to properly restrict, audit, and, when appropriate, sanction political parties, politicians, and donors who engage in influence peddling. A critical component of implementing such a system is developing the capacity, both within government and among watchdog groups, for forensic accounting so authorities can trace the intricate money trail involved. An immediate and simple reform African states can take is to expand requirements for disclosure of political parties' and candidates' financial information such as balance sheets and cash flow statements, measures that have gained widespread support among Latin America's citizen groups and business community. This disclosure information should be updated regularly and made easily accessible so as to help expose suspicious accumulation of wealth to voters.

This author needs desperately to understand the phrase "WAWA*" in all its glory. Such a disclosure would --if it could be enforced--only make others jealous. House alarms in the Congo were the equivalent of a "blue-light" special to the locals.

You cannot safely use a credit card at the top hotel in Abuja, the capitol city of Nigeria. Good luck with financial disclosure. In any case, drug smuggling in West Africa is NOT a new development and is not limited to the western portion of the continent.


*West Africa Wins Again

10-26-2010, 12:42 AM
Simon Mann's incarceration in a brutal prison for attempting to overthrow one of the most notorious dictators in Africa was turned into an international cause celebre in a long and vocal campaign by family friends.

The former SAS officer is now free and has just taken up his first proper “day job” since his release: working for that very same ruler he was determined to depose, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea.

At the time of the bungled coup, Mr Mann is said to have declared to his friends that he was helping to deliver the people of the benighted nation from the depredations of their appalling leader, who had been accused, among other things, of being a cannibal.
Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/former-sas-man-simon-mann-takes-up-post-with-dictator-he-tried-to-depose-14986102.html#ixzz13Q95f9r3

Applicable -

The thing that impressed Winston in looking back was that the speaker had switched from one line to the other actually in midsentence, not only without a pause, but without even breaking the syntax.
G.Orwell, 1984

11-10-2011, 04:24 PM
Picked up the other day, an IISS Strategic Comment mainly on piracy off Somalia, but has passages on the situation off the West African coast:
Meanwhile, piracy off the West African coast is emerging as a separate threat. Here the modus operandi is quite different. Eight tankers were hijacked – and another 30 attacks thwarted – in the eight months to September 2011.


02-14-2012, 07:11 PM
Violence against shippers new norm off West Africa (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2012-02-13/nigeria-pirate-attack/53070492/1)

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) – The waters off West Africa (http://content.usatoday.com/topics/topic/West+Africa)'s coast are now a constant danger for those shipping goods and crude oil in the region, analysts said Tuesday, a day after pirates killed two sailors near Nigeria's coast.

While shootings and stabbings have happened before in the region, Monday's assault was one of the deadliest attacks in waters now considered to be as dangerous as those near Somalia. And such attacks are likely to continue ...

In August, London-based Lloyd's Market Association — an umbrella group of insurers — listed Nigeria, neighboring Benin and nearby waters in the same risk category as Somalia, where two decades of war and anarchy have allowed piracy to flourish.

Pirates in West Africa have been more willing to use violence in their robberies, as they target the cargo, not the crew for kidnapping like off Somalia. Analysts say many of the pirates come from Nigeria, where corrupt law enforcement allows criminality to thrive ...

02-14-2012, 07:28 PM
Anything piracy and more (http://www.icc-ccs.org/piracy-reporting-centre/live-piracy-report)

13.02.2012: 0250 UTC: Posn: 04:43N - 003:44E, Around 110nm south of Lagos, Nigeria.
Armed pirates chased and fired upon a drifting bulk carrier. Vessel raised alarm and headed towards Lagos. All crew except the bridge team took shelter in the citadel. Due to the continuous firing the Captain and the C/E were shot. The IMB Piracy Reporting Center immediately informed the Nigerian authorities who sent out a rescue team. Due to rough seas the Nigerian naval team could not reach the location. A French Warship in the area which received the warning broadcast went to the aid of the distress vessel and despatched a helicopter. A boarding team boarded the vessel and escorted the vessel to Lagos port. The vessel is presently at Inner anchorage Lagos port. The authorities boarded the vessel and a medical team gave medical assistance to the crew. Later all crew members and the two bodies were taken ashore.

Seems there's more (http://www.icc-ccs.org/news) to Nigeria than just pirates.

03-30-2012, 03:47 PM
From NATO CIMIC's offering:
Lloyd’s List reports that on 23 March, the Liberia-flagged chemical and oil tanker Zouzou was hijacked in the Gulf of Guinea by approximately 12 armed pirates. The pirates used a mothership and skiffs for the attack, which is a new tactic that is usually used by Somali pirates. The attackers have since left the vessel, after stealing some items from the ship, leaving the tanker’s crew unharmed.

This Day, a Nigerian news source, reports that, within the past two
months, 22 armed attacks were carried out on ships in the Bight of Benin.
Last year the region reported 58 pirate attacks...

According to IMBs Piracy reporting Centre (PRC) a chemical tanker was attacked by armed pirates on 22 March about 100 nm off Bonny Island, Nigeria. The master triggered the Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) and the crew retreated to the citadel. A nearby US warship responded to the alert. The pirates aborted the attack and the tanker’s crew is safe.

Link:https://www.cimicweb.org/Pages/v6/welcome.html and look for the Mediterranean Basin Review (OK stretching geography a wee bit to the Gulf of Guinea).

Slightly puzzled that a US warship was in the vicinity, just like a French warship in Stan's post. The wonders of navigation in such waters.

04-28-2012, 02:59 PM
This article by Kofi Annan appeared in the Uk-based 'Observer' newspaper in January 2012, but a SWC reader suggested I have a look:http://kofiannanfoundation.org/newsroom/news/2012/01/drugswestafrica

The only new item spotted was this, my emphasis:
According to a recent report from the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime, in 2009 around a third of the South American cocaine destined for Europe and shipped via West Africa was consumed locally.

A UN estimate true, one wonders if there is anything locally known and verified that would support this? KingJaJa we need you!

04-28-2012, 07:07 PM
There is a lot of money and a lot of cocaine use in Lagos where I live. Many combatants in Africa's nasty little wars and militants are high on drugs. Indian hemp is the drug of choice because it grows locally, but cocaine is also used.

A few things about Lagos - there is a Porsche dealership here and every kind of luxury car on earth can be seen on its streets. The economy of Lagos alone is similar in size to the economy of Kenya! Nigeria's economy is on track to exceed the South African economy either this year or next year.

So while there are lot of poor people in Nigeria, there are a respectable number of people who can support a cocaine habit. Finally, I doubt street prices in West Africa are anywhere near the price in Europe.

From the Lagos State ministry of health website

4. Various types of drug use are prevalent among the population. The use of illicit drugs cuts across all social strata but is more common amongst motor park workers, drivers, artisans, prostitutes, etc. Use of heroin and cocaine is more prevalent in Lagos and other metropolitan cities and common among street beggars. The use of Amphetamine-type substances is also increasing, especially in big cities such as Lagos.


02-04-2013, 03:35 PM
Just an update:
A French-owned Luxembourg-flagged tanker with 17 crew members that went missing off Ivory Coast at the weekend is believed to have been hijacked by Nigerian pirates, the International Maritime Bureau said on Monday.

Note the hub is Nigeria and the commodity sought oil products.


04-05-2013, 11:33 AM
Another example of the USA's long reach, as the BBC reports:
The former chief of the navy in Guinea-Bissau has been arrested and is being transferred to the US, local media have reported. Rear Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto was picked up on a boat in international waters near Cape Verde, a local broadcaster said.


According to the IISS Military Balance Guinea-Bissau has a navy with two patrol boats and politely notes an EU SSR mission left in August 2010, an Angolan mission in 2012 and an ECOWAS mission then deployed. Well that's everything solved WAWA.

IIRC a Cape Verde VIP was in Washington DC last week, part of an African delegation visiting the Pentagon.

04-08-2013, 07:44 PM
It gets better! First a rear admiral, now the president is looking at being indicted in the USA.


04-09-2013, 04:09 AM

I don't care what foreign policy pundits say, but nabbing a serving African president to face a drugs trial in the US (like Noriega) is not a good mood.

There are several leaders in West Africa, most are SOBs - and they know it. The US cannot simply invade all of them and bring them to justice, they will oppose this and the US also needs their cooperation.

04-15-2013, 07:23 PM
The first comprehensive account if the situation in Guinea-Bissau I've seen, by a group of blog reporters, partly based on the recently published US court documents:http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/04/15/guinea-bissau-president-caught-up-in-drug-conspiracy-allegations/

04-18-2013, 11:13 PM

You know we have meth labs in Lagos now?

I'm told the meth is for export.

04-19-2013, 10:54 AM
King Jaja,

Meth labs in Nigeria, even if for export, is a bad sign. I rely on the anecdotes given to me when out with US LE a few years ago in Montana. To my knowledge 'meth' is virtually unknown here in the UK. Is South Africa the market for the producers?

04-19-2013, 08:24 PM
It is VERY serious, FIVE labs have been discovered JUST THIS YEAR.


Authorities in Lagos have discovered the fifth illegal methamphetamine production centre in just one year, deepening fears Nigeria is a narcotics hub and part of a worldwide network.

The anti-drugs agency says the West African country is producing meth on a large scale.

The highly addictive drug is known by several names, including meth, ice and crystal. It is usually injected, but it can also be smoked or inhaled.

Mild doses can increase alertness and concentration, but high doses can cause psychological problems including paranoia and hallucinations.

Nigeria used to be a transit point through which illegal drugs from Mexico passed on their way to Europe.

Mitchell Ofojeyu, a spokesman for the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, said: "They have an international network because they're bringing in Bolivians into West Africa to produce Methamphetamine; [it] shows the synergy the drug cells in West Africa have with their counterparts in other regions of the world."


05-03-2013, 07:46 PM
Hope, good intentions, internal and external pressure on this 'narco-state' have resulted in:
Political, military, and civil society leaders have agreed on a new transition deal, according to which elections should be held by November this year, a new head of the national election commission appointed, and a new, more inclusive, interim government formed.


05-29-2013, 02:19 PM
A Reuters report on West African piracy, which lays much of the blame on Nigerian gangs, as illustrated by this passage:
Nigerian pirates can make in 10 days what Somalis make in 10 months....It's easier to offload oil to the local black market than negotiate ransom with foreign ship owners.

The usual references to greater regional co-operation, with external (EU) funding for coastguard training. When as a speaker at IISS last week remarked:
The main OCG is the state.

Another contributor pointed to the huge diversion under-way in Nigeria of oil, which can only be explained by systematic and widespread collusion, including purchases by the international oil companies. IIRC 10% of production was missing.

Link To Reuters:http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/29/westafrica-piracy-idUSL6N0BIAJ520130529

Link to IISS talk on West African crime and development:http://www.iiss.org/en/events/events/archive/2013-5126/may-6ac8/assessing-the-impact-of-organised-crime-on-african-development-98fd

06-01-2013, 08:15 PM
A commentary by RUSI, a general overview, with one new item (highlighted below) and ends on a rather pessimistic conclusion:
While the consequences of the Arab Spring and the spectre of terrorism has renewed the international community's interest in West Africa, and tackling organised crime in the region remains a priority for European member states, the increasingly visible crime-terror nexus points to a situation out of control.

The new item, with my emphasis:
Late last month, UK Border Force officials seized cocaine valued at over £17 million at the Port of Tilbury in Essex. While the value of the drugs is not the largest on record, what makes this particular seizure of interest is that the drugs are believed to have been smuggled via Senegal to Europe by an Al-Qa'ida affiliated group. If confirmed, this will be the first time an Islamist terrorist group has attempted to ship a considerable amount of Class A drugs directly to Europe from West Africa and is a significant step for Al-Qa'ida in the Maghreb (AQIM) in terms of both funding and operations. Officials believe the cocaine was part of a major deal between AQIM and FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) who provided cocaine in return for weapons the Islamist terrorist group had procured - possibly from Libya. The seizure of such a large volume of drugs suggests a transnational network not seen since FARC and the IRA collaborated in the early years of the last decade.


No-one else appears to have considered the apparent linkage between AQIM & FARC - well in the public domain. Tilbury is one of the UK's busiest container ports, with not infrequent seizures before of cocaine. The method for this shipment was to put six holdalls atop a load of tin alloys from Senegal, with a tarpaulin over the container and cargo seals in place - a load in transit to Belgium:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-22251528

06-01-2013, 08:16 PM
The website of the West African Commission on Drugs (WACD):
The Commission comprises a group of distinguished West Africans from the worlds of politics, civil society, health, security and the judiciary.


07-24-2013, 03:44 PM
A bit more detail on the DEA's sting off Guinea:http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/07/24/us-guinea-bissau-sting-special-report-idUKBRE96N0AR20130724

Moderator at work

With the reported growth in piracy off West Africa a new thread was started 21st October 2013, 'West African piracy: an old problem escalates' and eight maritime / piracy posts have been copied from this thread to there (ends).

01-31-2014, 06:17 PM
An update by Reuters on Guinea which starts with:
A surge in cocaine trafficking has transformed Guinea into West Africa's latest drug hot spot, jeopardising President Alpha Conde's efforts to rebuild state institutions after a military coup and attract billion of dollars in mining investment.


07-10-2014, 07:07 PM
The UK Chamber of Shipping, clearly an interest group, has published a report and in summary says:
Most people are aware of pirate activity off Somalia, but lawlessness in the Gulf of Guinea is a major threat to our seafarers, the UK’s energy and trade security, and to the economic development of the region. Nigeria and other states in the region have known for 30 years that piracy was a problem, but too little has been done and enough is enough.

Some figures cited:
• In the past decade, 45 seafarers have been killed and 459 seafarers have been held hostage
• There is at least one attack per week on a ship operating in the region, but up to two thirds of attacks are believed to go unreported
• In 2013, 60% of attacks took place in Nigerian territorial waters and there is a trend for increasing violence within attacks
• Around 12% of the UK’s crude oil is imported from Nigeria, and by 2050 the region will hold 25% of the world’s oil production
• Around 5000 vessels, of all nationalities, call at Nigerian ports every year
• Nigerian statistics shows that 300,000 barrels of oil are stolen every single day

On a very quick read there is no reference to seeking Royal Navy help, rather direct payment to local navies / coastguards can help.

Link to press release:http://www.ukchamberofshipping.com/news/2014/07/10/nigerian-piracy-major-threat-seafarers-and-uk-economy-new-study-shows/ and the nine page report:http://www.ukchamberofshipping.com/media/filer_public/ba/8f/ba8f4c5e-8490-4f65-a4ff-0cab717acdc0/uk_chamber_of_shipping_gulf_of_guinea_paper-july_2014.pdf


09-25-2014, 03:41 PM
Well is this rhetoric or reality time will tell.

The SA Navy will deploy warships on Africa’s west coast as far north as the Gulf of Guinea. The deployments, early next year, will involve frigates and possibly submarines Johannesburg daily, The Times, reported. Ships of the Namibian and Angolan navies will also take part in the operation to combat pirate attacks. Oil tankers have been the pirates' preferred targets.


Yes a small number of oil tankers - with product, not crude oil - have been attacked and recently there was an attempt a long way offshore from Nigeria.

Open sources do not suggest either Angola or Namibia have a navy beyond a few patrol vessels.

01-08-2016, 10:03 AM
A rare article on this West African country, with a hopeful sub-title:
Poverty, political instability and weak institutions allowed South American cocaine cartels in, but with US and UN help the country is trying to fight back

02-01-2016, 11:48 AM
A broad overview:
In addition to terrorism, the Sahel faces a host of thorny intertwined issues, which if not dealt with could plunge the region into chaos.

05-02-2016, 12:48 PM
Hat tip to WoTR for this short overview of AQIM activity in West Africa, the catalyst being the attack on a beach resort, Grand Bassam, in the Ivory Coast:http://warontherocks.com/2016/05/beyond-grand-bassam-terrorism-on-the-west-african-coast/

Not to overlook two earlier attacks in Bamako and Ouagadougou.

Being close to the ground, my words, the authors draw attention to:
Predominantly young men, these migrants travel to littoral West Africa to work as laborers on commercial farms or as petty traders. Abidjan and Accra possess teeming neighborhoods of foreign-born migrants, many of whom spend seven to eight months a year in these urban areas before returning to their home villages in time for the annual harvest.

06-12-2016, 06:30 PM
The maritime dimension of China's presence around Africa has not appeared here before IIRC, but this diplomatic act may change matters:
Officials from 24 African countries met in Cameroon last month and called for China to stop illegal fishing off the West African coast.Greenpeace in 2013:
reported that the number of Chinese fishing boats operating in African waters soared from 13 in 1985 to 462 in 2013. The report said there were 114 cases of illegal fishing over an eight-year period in the waters off Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone. It said the boats were operating without licenses or in prohibited areas.Link:http://atlantablackstar.com/2016/01/07/24-african-countries-ban-china-from-fishing-illegally-in-their-waters/? (http://atlantablackstar.com/2016/01/07/24-african-countries-ban-china-from-fishing-illegally-in-their-waters/?utm_content=buffer39980&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer)

I was unaware that Chinese trawlers were active in the Gulf of Guinea and adjacent seas; although they have been reported, if not hijacked off the Somali coast.

The report suggests the fish are offloaded locally and have caused havoc amongst local economies.

It maybe interested to see how this activity develops. China has made some investments in the region, IIRC far less than East Africa (railways and oil).

The main thread is: China's Expanding role in Africa:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=2164


Bill Moore
06-13-2016, 05:07 AM
The maritime dimension of China's presence around Africa has not appeared here before IIRC, but this diplomatic act may change matters:Greenpeace in 2013:
Link:http://atlantablackstar.com/2016/01/07/24-african-countries-ban-china-from-fishing-illegally-in-their-waters/? (http://atlantablackstar.com/2016/01/07/24-african-countries-ban-china-from-fishing-illegally-in-their-waters/?utm_content=buffer39980&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer)

I was unaware that Chinese trawlers were active in the Gulf of Guinea and adjacent seas; although they have been reported, if not hijacked off the Somali coast.

The report suggests the fish are offloaded locally and have caused havoc amongst local economies.

It maybe interested to see how this activity develops. China has made some investments in the region, IIRC far less than East Africa (railways and oil).

There are two relevant threads: China's Expanding role in Africa:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=2164 and The Gulf of Guinea:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=11204


This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to China's exploitation of Africa and Latin America. Either Argentina or Chile recently sunk a Chinese fishing boat that was fishing illegally off their coast. China has a lot of hungry mouths to feed, so food security is leading it into a confrontational mode with many countries.

06-13-2016, 08:14 AM

It was the Argentine Navy that sank a Chinese trawler, in March 2016. I note other Chinese vessels were nearby in this report, with video:https://navaltoday.com/2016/03/16/video-argentine-navy-sinks-chinese-fishing-boat/

08-03-2017, 12:25 PM
A detailed overview of Mauritania via online 'World Politics Review', so it maybe behind a registration wall - so an experiment to post here.

A taster:
Mauritanian politics and society have been perennially buffeted by the storms of racial tensions, ethnic cleavages and political volatility.

Link: http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/19084/as-threats-mount-can-mauritania-s-fragile-stability-hold

04-06-2018, 12:34 PM
A rare, first-hand report on the situation by a freelance journalist; sub-titled:
Guinea-Bissau has long been labelled a narco-state. Today it is likely that the West African country continues to be a major hub for cocaine. The losers in the drug deals are its citizens.

She ends with:
Decades after Guinea-Bissau’s hard-won battle for freedom from colonial rule, the country is still barely functional, kept from collapse only by the presence of international agencies, and constantly at risk of state capture by drug gangs. The next year, which is supposed to include parliamentary and presidential elections, will be crucial in determining where the country goes next. But, for now, Guinea-Bissau remains a country on the edge.

03-15-2019, 05:55 PM
A rare catch this article. Two "busts":
On March 9, Guinea-Bissau recorded its biggest cocaine bust yet after discovering almost 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds) of the narcotic in a fish truck bound for Mali.
Nearby, authorities in the archipelago of Cape Verde found 9.6 tons of cocaine on a Panama-flagged vessel, one of the biggest drug seizures ever outside top producer Colombia. The find has an estimated value of $720 million, or the equivalent of 41 percent of Cape Verde’s economy, according to UN and World Bank data.

03-26-2019, 01:02 PM
A BBC report, with some satellite help from Oceanmind based @ Oxford, England; which is also available to Sierra Leone and at the end there is an answer of sorts:
investigates illegal and unsustainable fishing off the west coast of Africa to find out how one of the most fertile ecosystems on earth has been pushed to the brink.

Link:https://www.oceanmind.global/ and https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-africa-47698314/is-china-s-fishing-fleet-taking-all-of-west-africa-s-fish