Poverty, political chaos and technology merged at the seaside this year to witness a resurgence of piracy and pirates. Insurance for shipped goods went up so the nations of the world sent their Naval forces: including China which deployed at long range for the first time in more than 500 years….
Over the past year, Somali pirates have hijacked everything from luxury yachts to oil tankers, defying foreign navies and holding the world to ransom over one of the planet’s busiest trade routes.
What was once a group of disgruntled fishermen has turned into a fearsome organisation which has attacked more than 100 ships this year alone and raked in an estimated 120 million dollars in ransom money.
Somali pirates captured the world’s attention when they hijacked a Ukrainian cargo carrying combat tanks in September and a Saudi-owned super-tanker fully laden with two million barrels of crude two months later.
Pirates shoot on the deck of the Chinese ship “Zhenhua 4″ in the Gulf of Aden December 17, 2008 in this photo released by China’s official Xinhua News Agency.
Armed with rifles, grenade-launchers and grapnel hooks, the pirates have wreaked havoc in the Gulf of Aden, where thousands of merchant vessels bottle-neck into the Red Sea each year.
The cost of ransoms, delays and insurance premiums has hit the shipping industry hard, prompting some companies to opt for the longer but safer route around the Cape of Good Hope.
German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung, left, watches German frigate Karlsruhe sailing out of the harbour of Djibouti, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008. The warship is part of the EU mission ‘Atalanta’ protecting civil ships against pirates at the horn of Africa.(AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
“This unprecedented rise in piracy is threatening the very freedom and safety of maritime trade routes, affecting not only Somalia and the region, but also a large percentage of world trade,” the top UN envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, said recently.
From Middle East Online
The latest high-profile hijackings have jolted the international community into action, with the dispatching of naval forces by the European Union and NATO to bolster already existing operations in the region.
French frigate Nivose (centre at left) escorts commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden.(AFP/File/Eric Cabanis)
Brussels earlier this month trumpeted its first-ever naval force, dubbed Atalanta, but pirates have demonstrated their ability to adapt to growing surveillance and started shifting their attacks further south and out to sea.
Foreign navies have thwarted some attacks but pirates have hardly been deterred and obstacles remain to an finding an approach that would substantially curtail piracy off the Somali coastline.
In its first mission beyond territorial waters, China also sent two destroyers and one supply ship to join the fleet of foreign navies patrolling the pirate-infested waters.
The number of different countries and jurisdictions involved create many legal complications to effective anti-piracy efforts.
For example, if US naval forces board a Greek-owned Panamanian-flagged ship with a Chinese crew to arrest Somali pirates and transfer them to Kenya, no fewer than six countries are involved.
Piracy “poses an enormous challenge to the international legal system”, UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, said at an international conference on piracy in Nairobi on December 10.
Experts have outlined a programme that would allow naval coalition countries to transfer detained pirates for prosecution in coastal countries such as Kenya, Yemen, Djibouti or Tanzania.
Yet all agree that piracy cannot be effectively tackled without a stronger strategy aimed at restoring law and order ashore.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution authorising states combating piracy to conduct operations on land in Somalia.
Above: Missile Destroyer Haikou 171 of the PLA Navy’s South China Sea Fleet. She departed with two other Chinese warships on a mission to the Gulf of Aden near Somali on anti-pirate patrol on Friday. Many in the West see this as a sign of renewed cooperation between China and other military powers.
It allows states to “take all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia” to suppress “acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.”
Pirates have operated almost unimpeded in the northern breakaway state of Puntland and further south along the coast of Somalia, which has had no functioning institutions for years and is in the throes of an ever-worsening conflict and humanitarian crisis.
China Warships Depart on Anti-Piracy Mission Near Somalia
Somali Pirates: Living The High Life While Neighbors Suffer Extreme Poverty, Government Collapses
Read the rest: