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Monday, October 27, 2008

Somali Pirates: Chain of Command

Those Somali guys attacking ships from the small boats are mere pawns in the game of life, as Mongo so well phrased it, while there the pirate kings further up the food chain are enjoying the high life away from the sea and away from all those warships that are now pirate hunting off the Somali coast, as set out here:
New international navy patrols may deter piracy off Somalia, but the kingpins remain untroubled enjoying the fruits of this year's rash of hijackings in cities around the world, a regional maritime official said.

"There really isn't a military solution. The boys on the boats are just the foot-soldiers," said Andrew Mwangura, whose East African Seafarers' Association monitors piracy.

"The commanders and generals -- the financiers and the organisers behind it all -- are in Dubai, Nairobi, Mombasa, and even Canada and London, sitting in their hotels, communicating via laptops, and making big money."
***
While some advocate a hard strike on the pirates, there are complicating factors: risks to hostages, different locations of the various gangs, problems identifying who pirates are before they have taken a boat, and international legal complications once suspects are captured.

"The foreign patrols should calm the situation. But they cannot just attack a ship, it's not that simple," Mwangura said in an interview on Sunday. "We need to go to the roots."
***
Mwangura said authorities in the region were turning a blind eye to illegal fishing, toxic dumping, drug- and gun-running, illegal charcoal shipments, and human trafficking in Somali waters that were all indirectly fuelling piracy.

"All these businesses inter-link. A foreign ship pays a warlord to be allowed to fish illegally off Somalia, and that money then funds the piracy," he said.

"But when you start denouncing these things, powerful people get upset because you are spoiling their game."

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