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west african pirates

i’ve been slow on pirate news. sometimes my google alert for ‘pirate’ brings me good things; most of the time it is about sports teams.

in any case, something good came in today. a lieutenant commander in the french navy noted that west africa and the gulf of guinea

is a good place to be a pirate.

in my head, he says it just like mel brooks.

more importantly, the piracy is partially attributable for the state (in this case, nigeria) not distributing the rents it earns from resources.

many of the pirates targeting ships on the high seas come from the niger delta in southern nigeria, where indigenous groups are demanding a greater share of the region’s oil wealth.

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pirates & seasteads (islands of good institutions?)

well, this is all new to me.

“off the coast of East Africa is environmentally a very favorable location [for sea-steadng] but the issue of piracy makes it forlorn,” says the institute for ethics and emerging technologies.

sea-steading was a new concept to me but, apparently, it involves ” creating permanent dwellings at sea, called seasteads, outside the territory claimed by the government of any standing nation.” thanks, wikipedia.

here’s the gist

The Seasteading Institute’s mission is to inspire political competition. In proximity to nations such as Somalia, Sudan and Saudi Arabia an atoll of innovative political thinking is very much needed. Why are there pirates in the first place? Foreign companies enabled by poor governance have polluted the shores and rivers and have left those nations without jobs or resources. Piracy is dangerous for all, yet it will continue as long as the causes are present.

What if seasteading could not only solve political instability, but the famine and piracy as well?

With little initial investment a small sea farming operation begins off the coast of Somalia.  The operator comes into a Somali port to hire workers; they are trained on the principles of sea farming, desalinization and hydroponics. As production grows, experienced workers are trained on constructing expanded farming quadrants, crop management and even given the support to begin their own operations.

As primarily a concept farm incorporated for social benefit and not for profit, almost all food production can be offloaded at little or no cost to support the local communities – greatly diminishing the food drought in that region.

The same farmers who helped grow the food sail back to shore and distribute it in the markets, creating local wealth and good will. By using almost exclusively Somali fishermen to operate these farms you are thereby providing an alternative to piracy in their communities. By supplying food into their communities you attack an urgent humanitarian crisis and add an additional incentive to avoid piracy.

So… what about the seastead? The food is given freely so there is not much purpose in raiding it, the staff is entirely made of the desperate fishers and farmers that no longer have a reason to be pirates, so their ransoms would not be profitable.

The status quo will still exist and will be the largest obstacle to success.  However, with the tide turning against the pirates on many fronts, and the specter of a stronger central government on the rise, even pirate masterminds will see the profitability in abandoning the trade for the increasing economic vitality of progress.

meh?

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pirates make UN sexy — but at high price

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-16/war-on-somali-piracy-needs-rules-and-impregnable-citadels.html

key points:

  • pirates (as a topic, apparently, not as guests) make a meeting sexy
  • 219 piracy incidents in 2010 cost  “the shipping industry, insurers, navies and law enforcement more than $7 billion”
  • speeding may not be the answer but impregnable citadels are (?). shockingly, “it may be futile to expect shippers to run at full speed through an entire danger zone, as recommended in the industry’s current Best Management Practices.” (seriously?)  “rather, with better information sharing among the various navies in the Indian Ocean and timely assessments of pirate action from risk consultants and shipping companies themselves, ships’ masters can learn what particular areas to avoid or speed through.”
  • “the IMO should support the for accreditation and certification standards of private maritime-security companies, and push for a global convention that would create a legal structure for prosecuting open-water piracy — a Hague for the High Seas. “the guidelines could cover everything from rules of engagement to the management of firearms to training in lifesaving.”

is this how you repay the pirates for jazzing up your organization?

the author notes that “the only “cure” for Indian Ocean piracy will be stability and economic growth in Somalia” but doesn’t say much about increasing piracy “off western AfricaSouth America and Southeast Asia.”

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eu carries out airstrikes on mainland somali pirate bases

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18069685

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2012/0515/EU-airstrike-on-Somali-pirates-echoes-US-drone-strategy

eu is now allowing airstrikes on on-land targets, a move about which the somali government was aware. however, no eu boots are ashore in these operations.

By bringing its fighting strategy more in line with that of the US, Europe is playing “a very dangerous game,” says Bronwyn Burton,  deputy director of the Michael S. Ansari Center at TheAtlantic Council and an expert on Somalia. “Both sides would probably agree that the solution to both piracy and terrorism is state building in Somalia,” she said. “But despite a lot of lip service being paid to that kind of policy, what we have now instead is first the US and now the EU pursuing a policy of diplomacy by airstrike.”

***

Bile Hussein, a pirate commander, said the attack along Somalia’s central coastline destroyed speed boats, fuel depots and an arms store.

“They destroyed our equipment to ashes. It was a key supplies center for us,” Hussein said. “The fuel contributed to the flames and destruction. Nothing was spared.”

***

The EU is the main donor to the Somali transitional government. It also trains Somali army troops, and is reinforcing the navies of five neighboring countries to enable them to counter piracy themselves… Rear Adm. Duncan Potts, Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force, said the attack will increase the pressure and disrupt pirates’ efforts to get out to sea to attack merchant shipping and dhows.

The EU Naval Force is responsible for the protection of World Food Program ships carrying humanitarian aid for Somalia, and the logistic support vessels of the African Union troops conducting operations there. It also monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia, which has been without a functioning government since 1991, when dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown.

The EU’s more robust mandate for its naval force allows it for the first time to mount strikes against pirate targets on Somalia’s “coastal territory and internal waters.” When the policy was announced, officials said the new tactics could include using warships or their helicopters to target pirate boats moored along the shoreline, as well as land vehicles or fuel tanks used by the pirates.