Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pirates of Somalia

So, back from mexico. Good trip, we finished the house in 4 days and wrapped up some unfinished business from this summer when we left early. Great trip, and Lord willing we'll be back again in march.

The stories that caught my eye yesterday concerned piracy in the Indian Ocean, mostly off the coast of Somalia. A Saudi Arabian oil tanker, the Sirius Star, carrying a colossal quantity of oil was pirated this week with a ransom demand of $10 million. To date this year, at least 83 reported pirate instances have occurred.

Times UK: "The International Maritime Bureau has reported that at least 83 ships have been attacked off Somalia since January, of which 33 were hijacked. Of those, 12 vessels and more than 200 crew were still in the hands of pirates. "

Even in the past week, there have been more hijackings.

Times UK:
"Since the Sirius Star was captured at least three other ships – one Greek, one Thai and one from Hong Kong – have been seized by Somali pirates."

There is considerable money being made by these marauders as well.

AP: "...But in northern coastal towns like Haradhere, Eyl and Bossaso, the pirate economy is thriving thanks to the money pouring in from pirate ransoms that have reached $30 million this year alone.

In Haradhere, residents came out in droves to celebrate as the looming oil ship came into focus this week off the country's lawless coast. Businessmen started gathering cigarettes, food and cold glass bottles of orange soda, setting up small kiosks for the pirates who come to shore to re-supply almost daily.

Dahir said she is so confident in the pirates, she instituted a layaway plan just for them.

"They always take things without paying and we put them into the book of debts," she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "Later, when they get the ransom money, they pay us a lot."

For Somalis, the simple fact that pirates offer jobs is enough to gain their esteem, even as hostages languish on ships for months. The population makes sure the pirates are well-stocked in qat, a popular narcotic leaf, and offer support from the ground even as the international community tries to quash them.

"Regardless of how the money is coming in, legally or illegally, I can say it has started a life in our town," said Shamso Moalim, a 36-year-old mother of five in Haradhere.

"Our children are not worrying about food now, and they go to Islamic schools in the morning and play soccer in the afternoon. They are happy.""

My initial reaction was to blame a news media with little left to report on by dreary economic news for drumming up stories that happen frequently but get little coverage. But looking at the data from years past compared to this year tells a different story.
(Chart source, UN Data)

Since 1991, there has been no functioning government in Somalia. For a short time, a set of Islamic courts were set up, and these radically curtailed piracy in the region, and restored some semblance of a legal system for this impoverished region. When the ICG was destroyed in late 2007, piracy again exploded, and has rapidaly increased to its current level, which is indeed considerable compared to last year.

"Negotiations with ships’ owners can go on for several months and are clouded in secrecy. Fourteen ships with more than 250 crew members are being held as negotiations continue. Among them is the Ukrainian arms ship Faina, which was captured in August with a cargo of 33 battle tanks, hundreds of crates of Kalashnikovs and ammunition""

More naval vessels of the trading nations are being moved into the area, and I imagine this is not a problem that will be ongoing. Simple economics dictate that shipping lanes are more prosperous without piracy.


Solameanie said...

If said navies would blow a few of the hijacked ships with the pirates on board the ships, I have a hunch the zeal for piracy would drop fairly quickly.

Preferably, they would catch a few of them alive so they could hang them from the mast. Or even more ironically, make them walk the plank.

Yeah, I know. I'm a meanie.

kingdavid said...

MN has a huge Somali community, and they're constantly in the news, usually whining about something. They apparently have a monopoly on the taxi cab business, in which they've tried to implement Sharia laws on paying passengers.

Lately, it's been talk of all the violence occurring within their "community." There have been about 7 murders in a short period of time.

They just can't stop killing each other or causing major problems wherever they congregate. My suggestion would be to build a huge wall around the country and keep them all inside. Kind of like that Kurt Russell movie--Escape from New York, or something like that.

Robert's Girlfriend said...

Arr! Yo ho Yo ho the pirate's life for me!

Palm boy said...

Joel, that is one unorthodox method of dealing with piracy...
Cripes, harsh justice?

KD, Big Trouble little china?

MaryKate... you have fun with that ;)

Jeana said...

"Simple economics dictate that shipping lanes are more prosperous without piracy."

Allow me to invite you to state the obvious. :D

But why should the pirates waste their time chasing down a measly $10,000,000? Even cursed aztec gold would reward their efforts so much more than the monopoly money they can get anywhere in the world.

Celestial Fundie said...

These pirates need rounding up and keelhauling.

Palm boy said...

Jeana, I'm here to do precisely that. :D
What good did all that gold do Jack and Barbossa? None.
They would have been better off with cash.

The sailor was tied to a rope that looped beneath the vessel, thrown overboard on one side of the ship, and dragged under the ship's keel to the other side. As the hull was often covered in barnacles and other marine growth, this could result in lacerations and other injuries. This generally happened if the offender was pulled quickly. If pulled slowly, his weight might lower him sufficiently to miss the barnacles but might result in his drowning. If the rope snapped, the Captain could conclude that the punishment was not done properly and order it carried out again."


Jeana said...

I don't know PB, I could really use some dough. I would happily live without my sense of smell or taste or touch or whatever for some timely funds--especially 'something shining'. ;D

Actually, I just remembered wanted to comment in the first place. I literally got shamed about my lack of Star Wars savvy, so I watched Star Wars last week. Next week I'll watch the 'Empire Strikes Bach'.

Two questions:
Does the force hold up the princess's honey buns?

and Can the ending ceremony get any hammier? although I really shouldn't complain since the 'hamminess' was about the funniest thing I've seen in a long time.

Jeana said...

'Empire Strikes BacK' of course, not 'Empire Strikes BacH'. Just to clarify, I am absolutely against striking/wacking/thumping/stangling composers, living or dead...even when they introduce horribly complicated and unlucky trills into an otherwise deeliigghhtful piece. My respects to Bach.

Robert's Girlfriend said...

Hats off to you! You just made my night. :D *laughing*

Palm boy said...

You should have been shunned for your lack of star wars knowledge.

Yes, of course her hair is held up by the force. It binds the galaxy together, after all.

There were no pigs in the award ceremony, so there certainly was more room for pork. :D

Wow... what a play on words... Its the saga of brilliance. Mock it not.

Mk... yeah.

Solameanie said...

Then again, there's the good, old fashioned electric chair, my personal favorite.

Know what the electric chair has in common with Rice Krispies?

"Snap, crackle and pop."