by John Hawkins | November 19, 2008 1:12 am
Believe it or not, one of the biggest stories of the last couple of days has been pirates — and, no, Johnny Depp didn’t make a new movie,
Somali pirates struck again yesterday, seizing an Iranian cargo ship holding 30,000 tonnes of grain, as the world’s governments and navies pronounced themselves powerless against this new threat to global trade.
…Pirates pulled the 333m supertanker yesterday to a mooring point off Harardhere, on the Somali coast. Farther north, Italian, Greek, Turkish, British, American and Russian frigates and warships were patrolling the Gulf of Aden under a UN mandate.
Even there, pirates hijacked a Hong Kong-registered freighter, the Delight, as it carried 36,000 tonnes of wheat to Bandar Abbas. The hijack, the seventh in 12 days, took place near the Yemeni coast, underscoring the new tactic of evading foreign warships by simply sailing beyond their area of operation.
Operations undertaken by the coalition fleet are fraught with legal difficulties, ranging from restrictive rules of engagement to rights of habeas corpus, as the British Navy discovered when it detained eight pirates after a shootout last week. Yesterday the detainees were passed on to Kenya, where efforts to prosecute them will be closely watched for precedent.
The limitations of naval action are refocusing international attention on the conflict within Somalia, where the rule of warlords, the lack of a functioning government and resulting anarchy have spawned the piracy epidemic. The Somali President admitted this weekend that his Western-backed transitional Government was on the brink of collapse, with fighters from the ousted Islamic Courts regime bearing down on Mogadishu.
…Washington was instrumental in the ousting of the Islamic Courts, backing Ethiopian troops to throw them out for fear that they would make Somalia a haven for extremists. Since then piracy has soared and, should it worsen – and the violence in Somalia increase – pressure will grow on the international community to reconsider its support for the corrupt and ineffective regime, even if it means the return of the Islamist Courts.
…The lawlessness and anarchy that has marked Somalia since the fall of the old Cold War dictator Siad Barre in 1991 proved fertile ground in which a crime almost forgotten in the West has found a new lease of life. The vast sums involved – pirates holding the Ukrainian arms ship Faina are demanding $20 million for its return – bring a plentiful supply of cash in the form of illegal taxes and kickbacks for the warring parties to spend on arms.
First of all, some of the comments at the Daily Mail are just priceless,
The US certainly can’t get involved in this – after all the pirates have rights which have to be protected. We would have to first sit down with them and find out their motivation for their actions as our new president-elect prefers to do with terrorists.
Sharon, Port St. Lucie, Fla., USA
We americans will “take a pass” on solving this problem. I invite the EU and the Gulf States to take a shot at being a Global Superpower for a change. I hope you enjoy the hate and vitriol from the Savages, Tyrants and their syncophants.
Sir Patrick, Birmingham, AL, USA
If any government were to send their naval ships after these pirates, I’m certain that there would be many countries, after the fact, of course, promoting how this type of thing could have been handled in a better way. And, if it were the American Navy, it would most definitely would be criticized.
michelle, chesterfield, MO, USA
Let’s have a meeting! Paris, perhaps?
Roberto, Charlotte, USA
I think the USA President-elect should sit down and talk with them. Maybe he can bring about some “change.”
Once you get beyond the comments, the thing that stands out are all the dumb decisions it has taken to get to this point.
First off, it’s not as if these pirates are sailing all over the planet. They’re in a fairly limited geographical range, they aren’t exactly sailing around in battleships, and the cargo ships are allowed to arm themselves. With that in mind, you’d think that this should be a pretty limited problem.
But, in any case, once the ships are captured, the situation is being worsened. It may make sense for an individual company to pay the ransom, but every time a ransom is paid, it only encourages the pirates to take more ships.
The same goes for these governments allowing the pirates to negotiate with the shipping companies. If a government isn’t going to step in during a situation like that, what good is it? That’s the first purpose of a government: to protect its citizenry for foreigners.
Next, you have war ships that could easily obliterate these pirates, being so hamstrung with silly legal mandates from the UN that they can’t deal with a bunch of backwards Somalian pirates. It’s pathetic really.
Then there’s the ultimate solution that’s being posed to this problem: it’s not to kill the pirates and take back the captured ships, which would probably end the practice for good — it’s to hope the Islamo-crazies that were formerly in charge of Somalia will take over again and stop the problem.
But, perhaps it’s all for the best, right? Soon, Barack Obama will be in and surely the pirates will simply abandon their evil ways because of the sheer wonderfulness of President Government. If that doesn’t work because of some sort of misunderstanding, then perhaps “The One” can engage in a little unconditional presidential diplomacy and square things away with these Somalian Jack Sparrows.
PS: Yes, the U.S., which has the world’s best Navy, is capable of fixing this problem by killing the pirates and, no, I wouldn’t be the least bit interested in seeing us do it. As long as they don’t take any American ships, we should let the rest of the world handle this.
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