American Elephants

The Pirates Strike Again, and are Struck! by The Elephant's Child
November 19, 2008, 7:59 pm
Filed under: Africa, Developing Nations, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

A Hong Kong-registered ship named Delight is the latest to fall into the hands of pirates off the northern coast of Africa.  It is now steaming toward Somalia, where it will undoubtedly be held for ransom as was the Sirius Star pictured below.

The Somali government, such as it is, lacks basic law-enforcement agencies to disrupt pirates. It also has a very long coastline along the Gulf of Aden.  The neighboring countries of Yemen and Djibouti are a little more stable, but have no more capabilities than Somalia.

There have been 90 attacks on ships by Somalian pirates this year.  Commercial vessels in this high-tech era have small, mostly unarmed crews.  The International Maritime Bureau says that pirates are currently holding 15 ships and more than 250 sailors. The pirates are well equipped with modern weapons, satellite phones, GPS trackers and fast attack boats.

It’s left to the modern word to police them.  The Bush Administration set up a global effort called Combined Task Force 150 under the watch of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. The current commander is a Commodore of the Danish Royal Navy.

Tuesday, a Somali pirate mother -ship aimed grenade launchers at an Indian naval frigate and tried to ram it.  The Indian ship Tabar returned fire, set the pirate ship on fire and sunk it.  India’s action has probably saved many other ships. At the moment force is the only  way to raise the cost of piracy.

The costs of dysfunctional countries can be severe.  The Combined Task Force has 2.5 million square miles to patrol. That is a lot of ocean.

Diplomacy, and even talks without preconditions, aren’t going to be the answer.

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