Countering Piracy: International Partnership Achieves Steady Progress

Posted by Robert W. Maggi
August 24, 2010
Fighting Piracy off the Horn of Africa

About the Author: Robert W. Maggi serves as Coordinator for Counter Piracy and Maritime Security in the Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

In the waters off the Horn of Africa, the summer monsoon season is coming to an end and pirates are returning to sea to target humanitarian aid and commercial vessels transiting one of the world's busiest shipping corridors.

Through the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, the United States has partnered with more than 50 nations and international organizations to work towards realizing Secretary Clinton's vision of “a 21st century solution to the 17th century crime of piracy.” Since its creation in January 2009, the Contact Group has doubled in size, reflecting the broad international consensus on the need to safeguard the seaways. Together, we have made several positive contributions toward curtailing piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin.

The State Department has worked closely with our colleagues at the U.S. Maritime Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard to partner with the International Maritime Organization and the shipping industry in developing simple, cost-effective self-protection measures that individual vessels can take to deter would-be attackers. These measures include briefing crew members and increasing watches, adding additional lighting and blocking access to the vessel while at sea, and taking evasive maneuvers if confronted by would-be attackers.

Contact Group participants have also helped establish a 20-nation joint naval patrol to establish an Internationally Recognized Transit Corridor for vessels transiting the region. The U.S. Navy partners with the Republic of Korea and several other nations in a Combined Task Force, as well as through the NATO-led Operation Ocean Shield. Both these efforts coordinate closely with Operation Atalanta, a maritime security mission led by the European Union, as well as additional naval contributions from fellow Contact Group participants China, India, and Russia to safeguard the shipping lanes.

As we work to combat piracy's impact at sea, we are also working to address the conditions in Somalia that have allowed piracy to take root. To this end, the Contact Group on Piracy works in parallel with the UN's International Contact Group on Somalia in support of the Somali-led Djibouti Peace Process and Somalia's Transitional Federal Government. The United States has consistently been the largest single-country provider of humanitarian assistance in Somalia as well, providing more than $180 million in food and non-food emergency aid since 2008. Additionally, the United States continues to support the Djibouti Peace Process and Somali-led efforts to stabilize Somalia, which can ultimately provide the governance structures necessary to end piracy from its land-based origins.

Recent months have seen several positive developments toward curtailing piracy, including:

• On April 12, President Obama issued Executive Order 13536 blocking the property of certain persons contributing to the conflict in Somalia, including two pirate leaders.

• Abshir Boyah, an admitted pirate ringleader who was among the individuals designated in the U.S. Executive Order, was arrested by authorities in the northwestern Somalia region of Puntland.

• The Department of State works closely with its partners from the Departments of the Treasury, Justice, Homeland Security, and other interagency partners, to engage our Contact Group counterparts on how best we come together to track and disrupt the financial networks that support the pirates' illicit activities.

• Kenya and the Seychelles continue to prosecute suspected pirates in their national courts, and Tanzania has taken steps to amend its national law to facilitate the prosecution of suspected pirates in its national courts, regardless of whether the particular piracy attack has a Tanzanian nexus. We urge other states in the region to join these states in their efforts to prosecute suspected pirates or imprison convicted pirates. The United States also sits on the board of the UN Trust Fund Supporting the Initiatives of States Combating Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, which helps provide capacity building assistance to countries in the region to support their efforts to prosecute and imprison pirates while improving the rule of law and their own security more generally.

Piracy off the Horn of Africa is an international problem that requires an international solution. Much work remains ahead, but so far, we are making solid progress in combating this shared security challenge.

Comments

Comments

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 24, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@Robert,

Maybe I look at this problem a little differently than most folks, I don't know.

Sometimes I get the sense that folks are trying to deal with this as a "law enforcement matter" (not to get political here, but as reference to the actuality of matitime law and its enforcement) rather than in context to the war on terrorism these very same nations in partnership are engaged in with us as allies, globally.

When Bin Laden declared war he talked of "bleeding us dry", economicly. The WTC targeted on 9/11, piracy off the horn of Africa...part of the same game plan in my assesment.

Now, if folks don't think Al Shebbab and al-quaida have deep ties with pirates, one just has to assess the common interests, and funding potential for terrorism every time ransom is payed for ship and crew, and one may understand why I call it "bin Laden's navy".

So, we can have this conversation for a long time to come with update after update on piracy, or folks can treat this as a theater of war and deal with this on the ground where they base the opperations and have their "safe havens".

Frankly in my assesment, terrorists only enjoy them when we fail to take the fight to the enemy and fall back to a "holding position" instead.

I really don't see as nations have an excuse if they want this propblem to end and stop throwing money at it by the billions, not to do what's neccessary to turn Somalia into a UN protectorate and clean house there, as hard as that may be for some to commit the forces necessary for the job.

Not dealing with it has cost an awful lot of innocent lives in Somalia over the years and that just can't continue.

Folks need to get real serious about this as the war that it is, and look at the bigger picture.

You can treat the symtoms, but if you don't do surgery on the cancer, you won't save the patient. And civilization is the patient.

My question to you is whether my understanding and perspective is shared by my government?

And how might it differ?

Best,

EJ

donald m.
|
Virginia, USA
August 24, 2010

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

Go United States Navy!!!

Eric in New Mexico your right...

Osama bin laden succeeded... he managed to put our nation in the biggest deficit, create wars, and almost break the Spirit of Americans. Well, our Nation might be broke, but we havn't lost our Spirit. Women should have rights, not be stoned to death because of an outdated religion which believes in the old testiment. The fact is women have proved themselves, accomplished, distinguished, and they will rise to the occasion. The old ways will vanish. The Leaders of Iran in my opinion, is ridicious. I would laugh my butt off, if when the Leader of Iran perishes, he founds out its a Woman who Judges him in paradise, while he is waiting on the 72 virgins. In the end it might be the 72 virgins throwing the stones. For yea who throw the first stone... or cast thea... a message for the Iran Government.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 24, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@Donald,

If you are perhaps suggesting Sen. Harry Ried might have been right when he declared "The war is lost" just before the surge in Iraq that led to being able to hand it over to Iraqis...in context with the parameters of intent al quaida has to disrupt the world's economies...understand that all he can do is trigger reactions and sow instability on the cheep to manipulate the response...or try to. We haven't as they say, "begun to fight" was my point.

Some one just the other day tried to sink a supertanker in the straits of Hormuz, and if succesful would have blocked shipping for weeks, if my assesment of the intent of the attack is correct.

Now, I don't know if what I've asked Robert is beyond his pay-grade to answer, but until someone does, I think these problems will continue.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 24, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

"And finally, the United States strongly condemns today’s murderous attack by al-Shabaab against civilians staying at the Mouna Hotel in Mogadishu. Our condolences go out to the families and friends of the victims. The attack occurring during Ramadan highlights al-Shabaab’s complete disregard for human life, Somali culture, and Islamic values. The terrorists appear to have been targeting Somali parliamentarians and other members of the Transitional Federal Government – further evidence that they are bent on depriving Somalia of security, peace, and stability.

The United States reaffirms its strong commitment to stand with the Somali people and transitional government and the African Union Mission in Somalia as they courageously work to restore peace and stability in Somalia. And this comes at a time – and we’re very grateful for the fact that this week we have additional resources arriving in support of the AMISOM mission, troops coming from Uganda."

-PJ Crowley, State Dept briefing; August 24, 2010

---

@PJ Crowley,

If you get this, perhaps you'll be able to offer a thought in response to the question I asked Robert here on this thread previously, because I just can't understand why the President hasn't asked for a declaration of war from Congress on al shebbab to lend AMISOM the full weight of American naval and air power, conterterrorism capabilities , recon, etc. to dimantle this terrorist org.

Well something is being done, but maybe it's time to ask you if the State Dept. would consider making such a recomendation to President Obama at this point in time?

I'm asking because I think it would help clarify things for the American public what our policy is, and the kind of "end state" we might expect.

I know what I expect as a citizen, but what does my government expect to achieve if it's solution is approched with less than that full measure of applied public committment in defeating terrorism and piracy?

See, the process that is in place in Somalia isn't getting the job done PJ, and that is self evident.

Djiboti peace proccess is a current perpetual state of war, and no one can make that work without creating the space for that to happen, and we haven't been creating the space well enough or fast enough to save lives.

I fear if we don't adjust our approach, this problem will continue to fester till we learn the lesson once here at home again why failed states are a national security threat, and if we're going to prop up a transitional government, why we better do that right as well.

I would think that if the transitional government were to ask for the UN to place Somalia under its protection, then additional powers could be brought to bear on resolving the development and civilian infrastructure formation that a viable government must be able to maintain.

Al Shebbab wants to cut humanitarian aid, the UN member states should physicly remove them from being able to do that, period.

Or void their 2005 UNGA commitment to protect populations.

Best regards, Go Red Sox!

EJ

Ron
|
New York, USA
August 25, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

Breaking the Food-Chain of War......

USG is world's largest arms dealer....Pirates emulate this power....all rogue-states seek arms and wmd's....At UN I suggested that all images of weaponry be removed from member state flags, etc.....What does this have to do with Somali Pirates, global organized crime and terrorism?....connect the dots.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 26, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@Ron,

Seems like you connected the wrong dots, dude.

Donald M.
|
Virginia, USA
August 29, 2010

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

29 August 2010

This problem should be addressed with the UN and pass a security resolution for all Nations to support an agreement to provide secuirty. The US Navy should NOT be the only Navy involved in patrolling those waters. I certainly have enjoyed this blog, I will have to leave for a period of time. Having a number of issues with my computer, vehicle and BELL Wasps.

Take care and Godspeed all BLOGGERS, will return one day!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 30, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@Donald,

Hope you get the tech. difficulties solved, and for the wasps, trust me on this as a house painter, the best "zapper" is a can of carburator cleaner...knocks them dead instantly. Their nests are no protection.

Anyway, you'll be happy to know we arn't the only ones that have warships dealing with pirates, including Russian and Chinese.

First time we've been "allies" militarily in anything since WW2.

Good luck with it, and with any luck we'll have some more good debates on this blog.

Take care bro...

EJ

donald m.
August 30, 2010

Donald M. writes:

thanks eric
look forward to future debates. they say when it rains it pours, i have a flood of problems to sort out.

Ron
|
New York, USA
September 2, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

A Deadly Synergy.....

Pitates+AQI+GlobalGangs+ Shabab+ IslamoSurgents+Somali Government= A New assymetical military threat.

In the 21st Century, pirates are subcontacted to fight the terrorists....who needs Xe?

.

Latest Stories

April 17, 2009

Faces of Port-au-Prince

Interactive Travel Map | Text the Secretary About the Author: Jerome Oetgen serves as the Public Affairs Officer at U.S.… more

Pages