Piracy Threatens Horn of Africa

Posted by Jun Bando
October 15, 2008
Pirates Off the Coast of Somalia

About the Author: Dr. Jun Bando is the Maritime Security Coordinator and U.S. Africa Command Liaison for the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of African Affairs.

I’m about to step into one of many meetings this week that will address the issue of piracy in waters off the coast of Somalia.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia has recently seized the international community’s attention, and for good reason: the explosion in Somali-based piracy has implications for international trade, the safety of mariners, the survival of millions of people dependent on international food aid, and the stabilization of one of the world’s most fragile countries, Somalia.

Piracy has plagued waters off the coast of Somalia for many years, but the number of pirate attacks in the region has escalated since late 2006. Pirate attacks doubled from 2007 to 2008; more than 60 attacks have been recorded this year in waters off the Somali coast. Pirates have also recently expanded their geographic reach from southern Somalia to the Gulf of Aden, north of Somalia. Recent attacks have been concentrated in the Gulf of Aden, an important leg of a shipping route that connects the Middle East and Asia to Europe and North America.

Large ransoms and low risks of arrest and punishment have fueled the current escalation in piracy. Up to $30 million have been paid in ransom for vessels hijacked off the coast of Somalia, including the Gulf of Aden, this year. Ransom payments finance arms purchases that not only allow pirates to undertake more aggressive hijacking operations but also fuel conflict in Somalia, threatening the recent agreement in Djibouti that we hope will bring stability to southern Somalia.

Piracy also threatens to sever the major pipeline for humanitarian assistance to southern and northeastern Somalia by halting United Nations World Food Program (WFP) food deliveries. The Horn of Africa, which includes Somalia, Ethiopia, and Djibouti, is facing its most severe food crisis since the 1980s. Shippers contracted by WFP refuse to deliver assistance to Mogadishu and other ports in southern Somalia unless accompanied by armed naval escorts.

The escalation in piracy has also raised economic and environmental concerns. Insurance costs in the Gulf of Aden have risen 10-fold in a year. The shipping industry has considered rerouting around South Africa, which could affect the cost of goods. A sufficiently damaging attack on an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden could result in an environmental disaster.

At the State Department, we’re working very hard to encourage international efforts among governments and industry to fight piracy and to implement UN Security Council Resolutions 1816 and 1838, which provide a framework for international cooperation against piracy off the coast of Somalia. The State Department also coordinates U.S. involvement in resolving individual piracy cases, which typically involves working with a number of other countries affected by an incident of piracy. Our efforts are part of our broad effort to support peace and stability in Somalia, which we hope will also bring about a longer-term solution to piracy in the Horn of Africa.



Tennessee, USA
October 16, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

The International laws regarding Piracy are explicit, even prior to the UN resolution.

Termination before, during or after these events will be the only measure and should be the only measure.

It is not that complicated...Sooner or later someone will ignore the Press and just do what needs to be done. NO sob stories of them being poor...

Hopefully we can pray that Russia will set the example, as they seem to be the only country with stones anymore...they get the job done first and deal with those milking money off others decisions later by ignoring them with a generalized statement...but the job gets done and the situation is contained...

Virginia, USA
October 17, 2008

Donald in Virginia writes:

17 October 08

Skull and Bones....ARG ARG ARG!!!....Pirates in Africa...

Pirates should be captured and brought to Justice!

Stealing it just plain stealing... I think the US Navy should take control over the situation and send a loud message to the Pirates. Like a shot across the bow.

I remembered someone asking why bring up religion. Well once again one of the Ten Commandments is, "Thou shall NOT Steal."

In Arabia if your caught stealing you lose a hand.

One thing that suprises me is how Hollywood always produces a film just like whats really happening in the world. We might have all seen the movies, "Pirates of the Caribbean." People learn from these films, maybe they want to be stars.

Once the Pirates are captured, they should receive a Capitol Punishishment for stealing on the high seas. A bigger message would be for those who are found guility receive a life long sentence in prison. Counting those dablooms!!!

Godbless and once again Good VS Evil Exists. In the end Good will always beat Evil!!!

October 18, 2008

John in Greece writes:

PIRACY = "AREA TERRORISM". Dangerous waters for family sailing. (chuckle) Take a look at the map co-bloggers!


Somalia, Yemen, Iran

Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, etc

Plenty of "ntermediate stations-destinations"you can initially reach by sea in order to build a terrorist "base" while you move the "container" to the final terminal.

When someone can act as a pirate, automatically can also act as a terrorist, or as a "logistic" unit used by terrorists, somewhere "near" the area, even without the "postman" has a clue what the "mail" is about.

People there starve to death. You buy them for a couple of Somali shillings (SOS!) and you can have "4 more significant digits" (4 more guys that will bring you another 4 more pirates in a row) in helping you receive nuclear or bio "materials"... for the "holy scope of rice".

P.S. I think that the Tropic of Cancer (in the new geography era) should be moved a little southern, as long as it's becoming cancerous!

October 20, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Donald in Virginia -- QUOTE: Well once again one of the Ten Commandments is, "Thou shall NOT Steal." END QUOTE?
However, dear Donald, Somalians are Sunni Muslims, not Christians?

So, we wouldn't have a chance to "use your language" -- I truly respect your Christian perspective -- because they could not "understand" it. I wouldn't either go with the "if your caught stealing in Arabia you lose a hand" plan on the ground that we will either end up out of scissors, or... hands. (LOL)

But I wonder how you suggest "the US Navy should take control over the situation and send a loud message to the Pirates" as long as there is another Commandment saying: Don't Kill!

(at least before -- I would say -- you're sure that you've used every other method to avoid the very last "solution". U.S. Navy deals with such situations on a daily basis. And it"s doing a FINE job.)

What the other countries of the Western or non-Western world offer (staff, money, vessels etc.) to keep the "Red Sea" out of..."red blood".

As always, only America -- (lonely America!)

Virginia, USA
October 20, 2008

Donald in Virginia writes:

20 October 08

@ John in Greece -- A shot off the bow would of only been a warning shot! I totally agree with the "Thou shall not kill approach"! The job of the US Navy is to keep the sea lanes open, and to prevent shipping from being taken or attacked by pirates. I think the Red Sea could use is our DEA specialist with the US Coast Guard in support of pirate intridiction. The US Navy works very well with the US Coast Guard in the Southern waters to prevent drugs from entering the United States.

In time of war the US Coast guard is part of the US Navy and I don't see why the coasties are not involved in supporting the efforts to help round up the Pirates who are kidnapping, stealing, and trying to disrupt the flow of merchant goods being sold. I believe if you added a few more of our intelligence guys to that list these pirates would be "Out of Business."

If this situation doesn't improve, what's next? How many other shipments will be taken hostage, it might be oil, gas that the United States purchases from other countries. The pirates need to be stopped and put in the slammer.

The Red Sea could use a "Robust" surface unit approach where they have all ships, aircraft and units under surviellence and if Pirates try to seize any future vessels, they are stopped before they even get aboard!

October 21, 2008

Jhal in Indonesia writes:

In the time as is now the case still had the pirate? Like in films? Wow!?! Very interesting information, was thought by me in the modern time as is now the case already did not have the pirate. Thanks for info.

New Mexico, USA
October 21, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Jhal in Indonesia brings up an interesting point... but no, these modern day pirates have a distinct lack of swashbuckling charm associated with Hollywood pirates.

I share his sense of wonder at the fact that piracy exists in modern times, and maybe that's why they were not taken seriously until now???

Although one could say they really are wannabe film stars for all the attention they seem to crave. Could it be they are doing this to sell the screen rights to "bin Ladin's navy" ( like a twisted version of the TV sitcom "McHale's navy", with an attitude... but about as dumb).

Since communications between US Navy vessels and the pirates is ongoing, could someone please tell these fools that "life is hard, but it gets a lot harder when you're stupid."???

But then, why be famous when you can be infamous, eh???

I guess some will never learn.


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