… Then, too, the abuse and poverty of Somalia, its people and resources, have contributed to the present, industry of piracy, and the CIA’s call for a presence “on the beach side” as well as in the water. As Wiki reports. “Piracy off the Somali coast has been a threat to international shipping since the beginning of the Somali Civil War in the early 1990s. Since 2005, many international organizations, including the International Maritime Organization and the World Food Programme, have expressed concern over the rise in acts of piracy.
“Piracy has contributed to an increase in shipping costs and impeded the delivery of food aid shipments. Ninety percent of the World Food Programme’s shipments arrive by sea, and ships have required a military escort. According to the Kenyan foreign minister, Somali pirates have received over US$150 million in ransom during the 12 months prior to November 2008.
As stated, “Clashes have been reported between Somalia’s Islamist fighters (who are opposed to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the pirates. In August 2008, Combined Task Force 150, a multinational coalition task force, took on the role of fighting Somali piracy by establishing a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) within the Gulf of Aden. The increasing threat posed by piracy also caused significant concerns in India since most of its shipping trade routes pass through the Gulf of Aden. The Indian Navy responded to these concerns by deploying a warship in the region on October 23, 2008. In September 2008, Russia announced that it too will soon join international efforts to combat piracy.
“On October 5, 2008, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1838 calling on nations with vessels in the area to apply military force to repress the acts of piracy. At the 101st council of the International Maritime Organization, India called for a United Nations peacekeeping force under unified command to tackle piracy off Somalia. There has been a general and complete arms embargo against Somalia since 1992.”
Interestingly, the pirates recently have managed to arm themselves to the teeth with the profits from hijacking higher profile ships at much higher ransoms rather than smaller, more vulnerable vessels carrying trade across the Straits or employed in the coastal trade on either side of the Straits.
“In November 2008, Somali pirates began hijacking ships well outside the Gulf of Aden, perhaps targeting ships headed for the port of Mombasa, Kenya. The frequency and sophistication of the attacks also increased around this time, as did the size of vessels being targeted. Large cargo ships, oil and chemical tankers on international voyages became the new targets of choice for the Somali hijackers.
As stated, “There are discussions under way to begin an aggressive covert operation against the pirates …”
As mentioned earlier, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been publicly warning of this potential threat for months. In a Harpers Magazine article, a CIA official stated, “We need to deal with this problem from the beach side, in concert with the ocean side, but we don’t have an embassy in Somalia and limited, ineffective intelligence operations. We need to work in Somalia and in Lebanon, where a lot of the ransom money has changed hands. But our operations in Lebanon are a joke, and we have no presence at all in Somalia.” Take that with a grain of salt.
Wiki also points to years of toxic waste dumping in Somali waters by European nations, exacerbated by the Tsunami which spread the waste settled on the bottom, redistributing the toxic radiation, which has seriously sickened many Somalis who have eaten the fish.
Fortunately, the pirates kept out industrial fishing and gave the waters and the fish a chance to heal and repopulate. The ransom monies have contributed to reviving the coastal economies of impoverished towns. So there’s a bit of Robin Hood afoot with the pirates here as well as eco-protection. Then, too, the pirates were wise enough to handle with care their hijacked crews and expensive vessels. This takes some of the sting out of the ransoms, making them simply a cost of doing business in the region.
So goes this sketch of a very complex political picture. Coups, instability, insurgencies, counterinsurgencies, warlords, clans, pirates and now Blackwater’s newly-minted Blackwater/Ex. As to the future, I feel Somalia will be further destabilized by factionalism blamed on Al Qaeda, this to fuel more anti-Islam sentiment.
Worse-case scenario would be the introduction of a Karzai-like puppet, pro-US government as the gas and oil rights go to one the big four companies hovering like tyrannosaurs around them. But stay tuned. Today Somalia, tomorrow the world. Anything can happen as the US lands in Africa thirsty for its favorite drink, oil, with a side of natural gas, bought with bloodshed and catastrophe. Whatever happened to our Peace President, our Obama, who disliked dumb wars?
Estimates range from 300,000 to 1,000,000 slaughtered in these “dumb” wars. (full long text).