Africa Matters is a blog that follows the news and offers analysis of African affairs. Our aim is to delve deeper into the issues of African politics and development. We don’t presume to be experts, and we don’t presume to have all the answers—we are just trying to ask the right questions.

Tuesday, September 30

Somali pirates: the Horn's coast guard

Jeffrey Gettleman of the New York Times landed an interview with the pirates who highjacked a Ukrainian cargo ship off the coast of Somalia, which happened to be carrying $30 million worth of heavy arms.  On the phone call, the pirates sounded a subdued note.


The pirates' spokesman, Sugule Ali, indicated they had no intention of using the weapons themselves or funneling them to insurgents on the mainland.  "Somalia has suffered from many years of destruction because of all these weapons,” he said. “We don’t want that suffering and chaos to continue. We are not going to offload the weapons. We just want the money.”

"We are simply patrolling our seas," he added, arguing their real goal, besides money, was ridding coastal waters of illegal fisherman and polluters.  "Think of us like a coast guard.”

The tanker is now cornered by U.S. Navy vessels; a Russian ship is en route.  Despite calls from the Somali government, Western diplomats are resistant to a military solution, considering the amount of arms on board the ship and the presence of hostages (the ship's crew).

This high-seas highjacking has also raised questions about the ship's destination.  Though Kenyan officials claim it was an above-the-board arms purchase for their military, some suspect it was an illicit shipment to South Sudan.  Barney Jopson of the Financial Times writes that Andrew Mwangura, of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program, has said the pirates on board claim to have found documents confirming the 33 Russian-made tanks were bound for South Sudan.  An African military official in South Sudan and a government adviser in Khartoum both testified that the South Sudanese government has launched a major rearmament program with an eye toward their secession.

This seizure also comes just days after a ceasefire was agreed among armed groups in Somalia, and also after an appeal by WFP for EU help in securing the waters for its food shipments.  Africa Confidential reports that, on September 15, European foreign ministers agreed to set up EU NAVCO, a step toward a maritime police force that can work both preventively and punitively.

By the end of 2008, WFP will be sending 32,000 tons of food aid by sea, 90% of all its shipments.  Such shipments sustain 2.4 million people in Somalia alone.

2 comments:

USpace said...

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They're the Coast Guard don't ya know. Being Muslims, they must be peaceful pirates at least. These Somali Buccaneer monkeys are out of control. They go out for weeks in little rickety boats with just weapons and water and eat raw fish they catch and keep hijacking bigger then bigger, then bigger boats.

These terrorist monkeys must be exterminated with extreme prejudice. Sending several drones into their camps when they're fat and happy celebrating their new money should do the trick.

Lots of great Pirate coverage over at Dinah Lord:
Somalian Gov't Charges Pirate Negotiator Andrew Mwangura
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absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
don't exterminate pirates

seizing ships for ransom
everybody gets rich

.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
let pirates operate

you will get cut of ransom
and maybe some weapons too

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All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech there can be no real freedom.
.
Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
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Help Halt Terrorism Today!
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USpace

:)
.

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