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The only profitable business in Somalia is piracy

Via Al Jazeera, a lot of detail I didn't know about:

"We are demanding $25m from the Saudi owners of the tanker. We do not want long-term discussions to resolve the matter," Mohamed Said said. "The Saudis have 10 days to comply, otherwise we will take action that could be disastrous."

The tanker was seized in the Indian Ocean some 800km off the coast of Kenya, and is now anchored off the Somali coast at Haradheere, roughly in the centre of the country's coastline. It is the biggest vessel ever hijacked.

Somali pirates have now seized three ships off the coast of the Horn of Africa in the past three days.

A Greek tanker, a Thai fishing boat and a Hong Kong-registered vessel have also been captured despite a large international naval presence in the waters off Somalia. ...

A coalition of warships from eight nations, as well as from Nato and the US Navy's 5th Fleet, is patrolling a critical zone in the Gulf of Aden where most of the hijackings have occurred.

In Somalia, an impoverished country where public institutions have crumbled, many see piracy as the only profitable business.

The pirates are said to have built luxurious homes and propped up the economy in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, where many of them are based.

Amid the anarchy and lawlessness in most parts of Somalia, northern coastal towns like Haradhere, Eyl and Bossaso, the so-called pirate economy is thriving, due to the money pouring in from pirate ransoms that have reached $30 million this year alone.

At least 13 vessels with more than 270 crew members are already being held by various pirate gangs. A Ukrainian-registered cargo ship carrying tanks and heavy weaponry remains anchored off the Somali coa

Of course, if the pirates were bankers, we'd be begging them for the privilege of handing them money, but they aren't.

NOTE I'm still betting Obama's first foreign policy crisis is piracy in Somalia.

Egypt has held a meeting of six Arab countries in an attempt to forge a joint strategy against piracy in the Gulf of Aden, which threatens the international trade route through Egypt's Suez Canal.

Egypt is concerned that the recent surge in piracy, highlighted by the hijacking of the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star loaded with $100m worth of crude oil last week, will prompt shipping companies to opt for safer routes that avoid the Canal.

NOTE Figured I'd look at Al Jazeera because Avedon linked to them, and they look just as good as Pravda on the Potomac or Izvestia on the Hudson. Why wouldn't they?

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chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

The pirates are said to have built luxurious homes and propped up the economy in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, where many of them are based.

note the use of the passive tone. it's another way of saying, "no one outside of Somalia can get close enough to ask or go look at it up close." now, why would that be?

this reminds me of the Nir Rosen piece in rolling stone about afghanistan. despite our super-massive-ultra-computerized-mega-nukular-trillion dollar MIC and intel complex, we can't stop a handful of semi-organized "pirates" using stolen and dated military equipment operating in one of the busier waterways on the planet. why is that, exactly? could it be because our most effective forces are bogged down in endless war and occupation in two countries? could it be that much of our military leadership and strategist class is incompetent? could it be that our political leadership has its head up its ass, and can't come up with a workable idea about restoring some safety of shipping in the region? could it be that the leadership class, military and political, and a great majority of american public has learned absolutely *nothing* from 911 and that example of "blowback?" and is generally unwilling to do anything "pro-active" or goddess help me, actually preventative, and won't act until massive amounts of damage occur?

another point i take away from increasing piracy is that the rest of the world has become too dependent on US military intervention during times of crisis. i guess all that military hardware we sell the Saudis and every other nation in the region is just for show, or something. i don't mean to sound pro-piracy, but yo- y'all can step up to the plate any time now. cause it's mostly "your problem." i'm tired of the US trying, and failing, to be the "world's policeman." how about the nations of the region getting together and spending some significant money on aid, and helping the peaceloving majority in Somalia form a working government? nah, that's crazy talk, i guess.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

With special emphasis on much of our military leadership and strategist class is incompetent.

What ever happened to the convoy strategy? The Somali pirates don't have submarines or an airforce, how hard can it be?

Unless, of course, continuing the piracy in some way serves the interests of the wealthy. Can't say as I see how, but....

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

I've asked myself many of these questions, too. It is blowing my mind that the pirates are allowed to operate with complete impugnity. Is there not a single vessel we could send into the strait? Or, as you imply a single vessel of someone else's navy that could do the job? We're talking about a bunch of rag-tag pirates, here.

Though, when a nation (India) did get involved, recently, they ended up blowing up the wrong boat. We can't win for losing.