Friday, September 21, 2012

A Good Read on Somali Pirates: "Hijacked: How the U.N. saved the Somali pirates from the brink of extinction." - By Robert Young Pelton

How an effort to do what virtually everyone agrees needs to be done - defeat the Somali pirate on the land side - was thwarted by a UN program and an apparently overzealous administrator, is nicely set out in Somali Report's Robert Young Pelton's Foreign Policy piece Hijacked: How the U.N. saved the Somali pirates from the brink of extinction:
In addition to going after Puntland, SEMG has also gone after the maritime security industry, the CIA (which supports three antiterrorism units in country), the United States (which trains and supplies Somalia security forces), the TFG (for corruption), even aid organizations (for excess food sold) and the charcoal industry (the taxes on which funds al-Shabab). The arms embargo was originally created to stop the flow of weapons to warring militias. But two decades on there have been no significant or measurable reductions in the flow of arms to Somalia or any real penalty to pirates or al-Shabab.
In a classic no-win situation, the Puntland government found itself being encouraged to fight piracy by the United Nations at the same time those very actions were being considered by another wing of the U.N. to be contributing to security destabilization.
Just as the PMPF had the pirates on the run, the United Arab Emirates -- under massive U.N. pressure -- shut off their funding for the only anti-piracy program that had a real chance of success. As of June 6, Somali's largest indigenous attempt to control its own security appeared to be dead. To put the nail in the coffin, the SEMG then leaked its 2012 report on July 15, which vociferously demanded sanctions against the South African contractors -- but did not recommend sanctions on the pirates they were hired to defeat.

When asked what their logic was for this conundrum, the SEMG response was "Pirate leaders cannot be sanctioned otherwise it would criminalize ransoms payments, (which) could have a negative impact on the release of crew members."

At the very last moment, the good intentions of the United Nations had managed to save the pirates of Puntland and shut down Somalia's only land based anti-piracy program.

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