Piracy Roundup

There’s a lot to talk about of course, what with the ongoing financial crisis that is pretty certainly going to turn into a large-scale depression, and the flurry of debate around what an Obama presidency “means”. But I wanted to share a couple of good articles about piracy in the Gulf Of Aden.

As you all probably know, a Saudi oil tanker the size of an aircraft carrier was seized yesterday far to the south of Somalia and is currently being docked at the pirate city of Eyl in that country. This adds another trophy to the hijacking of a cargo ship carrying 33 Russian tanks that is currently anchored off the coast of Somalia but is not being allowed to unload its rather….ahem….problematic shipment due to the U.S. warships surrounding it.

Two more boats were grabbed today making for a total of 90 nabbed this year.

My friends and I have been passing around articles about the history of the Somali pirates as it relates to the recent and terrible history of the region itself. The whole business only began ten years ago, a direct by-product of the war-torn and lawless condition of Somalia.

This article by Jeffrey Gettleman tells the pirates’ side of the story. Apparently their current means of employment began as a response to massive corporate fishing in the seas where they had historically fished as a livelihood:

The piracy industry started about 10 to 15 years ago, Somali officials said, as a response to illegal fishing. Somalia’s central government imploded in 1991, casting the country into chaos. With no patrols along the shoreline, Somalia’s tuna-rich waters were soon plundered by commercial fishing fleets from around the world. Somali fishermen armed themselves and turned into vigilantes by confronting illegal fishing boats and demanding that they pay a tax.

And this from the U.K. Guardian:

“They have money; they have power and they are getting stronger by the day,” says Abdi Farah Juha who lives in the regional capital, Garowe.

“They wed the most beautiful girls; they are building big houses; they have new cars; new guns,” he says.

“Piracy in many ways is socially acceptable. They have become fashionable.”

We’ll see how long the powers-that-be let this go on. This website, the Daily Casualty And Piracy Report, tracks any and all debacles that happen in the maritime shipping industry, but mostly it looks like boats just run into each other in canals and suchlike.

The big question is: what if anything can the Big Guys do about Somali piracy? Patrolling the seas off of Western Africa sounds like no small feat. However, gigantic oil tankers can’t just go missing every freaking week…..

More signs of the Real New World Order: not the U.S.A. running everything, or China, or Russia, but many groups, coalitions, and blocs sharing power over a broken and poisoned planet. In the spaces between will move the refugees and the renegades and the migrants and the stateless.

And the pirates.


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