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Old 03-23-2012   #681
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Things just got tougher for land based pirates

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An EU official said the new mandate would allow warships or helicopters to fire at fuel barrels, boats, trucks or other equipment on beaches, according to Agence France-Presse.
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Old 03-23-2012   #682
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Default EU OK'd robust action on land

Given the varying tactics used by EU navies in the area, some "catch & release" and others "catch, jail anywhere but home" one wonders what this policy decision means.

One can predict all such 'targets' on beaches will have women and children in the vicinity. Plus the ubiquitous camera footage of an outrage.

It must be time for a "summit", so make an announcement. Ah, checking the BBC the announcement follows an EU Defence Ministers meeting, that extended the mandate for EU naval action for two years:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17487767

Which has a "progress" report:
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If you look at last year, 30 ships and up to 700 hostages were held - today that is eight [ships] and around 200 [hostages]..
One wonders how the mainly Indian hostages IIRC will feel about the prospect of joining a "beach party"?

Frank Gardner,one of the BBC's security correspondents, who has been aboard a ship transiting the area, has written a comment, cited in full:
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Taking the fight against Somali piracy to bases on land is a major step-up for EU operations. Until now, pirates have been able to operate from coastal bases in towns like Eyl, Haradhere and Hobyo with relative impunity, returning from lengthy raids at sea to enjoy the spoils back home, though many drown or return empty-handed.

Now, it seems, the paraphernalia of piracy will all become fair game, hitting the pirates where it hurts and trying to disrupt what an EU admiral described to me as "the pirates' business model".

But this new, aggressive policy comes with significant risks. Pirates who see their bases destroyed are likely to protest they were innocent fishermen. It's also possible that, over time, innocent Somali fishermen really will be hurt.

Either way, its likely to enrage the pirates who may be tempted to take out their frustration on the hapless merchant sailors they regularly kidnap for ransom.
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Old 03-24-2012   #683
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If you look at last year, 30 ships and up to 700 hostages were held - today that is eight [ships] and around 200 [hostages].
Is 8 ships starting to get into a range where a rescue attempt is a possibility? Certainly a difficult and dangerous prospect, but 8 is better than 30, and removing hostages from the equation would open up all kinds of possibilities for action.
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Old 03-24-2012   #684
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Originally Posted by Stan View Post
Things just got tougher for land based pirates
Not so fast Stan...

The following two quotes indicate that this is more likely just more talk about getting tough than actually doing so.

Quote:
In a two-year extension of its mission, EU defence ministers agreed warships could target boats and fuel dumps.

...

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told reporters: "The EU plan is to allow attacks on land installations when ships are assaulted at sea," adding that "much care" would be taken to avoid civilian deaths.
I suggest what this indicates is that the political idiots know what needs to be done but don't have the balls to let the EU navies in the area loose to do the business.

It should be noted too that apart from the Brit and French navies the remainder of the EU navies can be considered 'timid' and should be released to go home (after being thanked for the efforts to date of course ).
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Old 03-31-2012   #685
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Default Anthropologist on the ground adds

I attended an academic conference this week in London and one panel looked at various aspects of Somali piracy. One speaker, Jatin Dua, made an impact:
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Jatin Dua is a PhD candidate in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. His dissertation focuses on maritime piracy and attempts to regulate the Western Indian Ocean by private actors, nation-states, and international bodies in a moment of post-Cold War, post-9/11 reconfiguration. He has conducted over eighteen months of ethnographic fieldwork with pirates, fishermen, merchants, seafarers, judges, lawyers, and others implicated in the world of piracy and counter-piracy in Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, and the United Kingdom.
Jatin made a number of points, although I follow the issue, the following were new to me:

1. There is a long history of oceanic exchange between Somalia (as part of East Africa), Kenya, Sharjah (UAE) and Gujerat, an Indian coastal state. Traditionally and still today this is largely by dhow. The dhows use offshore refuelling by Iranian merchants. There is a licensing system in place for the dhows, which removes them as a target for pirates
2. There is a pattern of human smuggling from Ethiopia's Ogaden Province (which historically has a cross-border Somali community) to the Gulf and Yemen.
3. Livestock are traded from Somaliland to Saudi Arabia, so when the Saudis impose and recently have lifted restrictions this has an impact.
4. Both Somaliland, Puntland he knew and by anecdote Somalia have a superb mobile phone network and within minutes it is possible to move cash from the USA to Somaliland - based on a trust network, similar to Hawala banking; see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawala
5. There can be movement from Al-Shabaab to piracy, one former fighter stated:
Quote:
Tired of war and I was asked do you want to make money now?
For those who wish to read more here is one of his articles:http://www.ssrc.org/pages/Piracy-and...om-Somaliland/
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Old 04-07-2012   #686
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Default Attack off Iran now

An attack in the Gulf of Oman and near Iran is well different:
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The 28-strong crew of a Chinese cargo ship seized by pirates in the Gulf of Oman off Iran's coast have been rescued... The vessel was attacked by Somali pirates on Friday morning near the Iranian port of Chabahar......China immediately asked Iran to take the necessary steps to rescue the crew....
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17636649

One wonders whether the pirates will face justice in China or Iran? Assuming of course that is the route followed.

Both national navies participate in anti-piracy patrolling - in co-ordination with the multi-national flotillas.
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Old 05-06-2012   #687
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Default Face to face with a Somali pirate

A rather short film clip from a BBC TV travel documentary, where the reporter visits a jail in Somaliland:
Quote:
Very few of the Somali-based pirates who plague the Indian Ocean have been brought to justice, partly as a result of the lack of government in Somalia. But several are being held at Hargeisa prison in Somaliland - an internationally unrecognised state which broke away from Somalia in 1991.

One Somali pirate serving six years in prison told the BBC's Simon Reeve that he thought the piracy was justified even though it has become a multi-million dollar criminal industry and there have been cases of hostages and ship's crew being killed.
At least it is a first-hand explanation:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17914920
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Old 05-15-2012   #688
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Default Update: EU OK'd robust action on land - done it!

In March 2012 the EU announced it would take action on Somali territory and the BBC reports this happened last night:
Quote:
EU naval forces have conducted their first raid on pirate bases on the Somali mainland, saying they have destroyed several boats. The EU forces were transported by helicopter to the pirate bases near the port of Haradhere.
The BBC's Security Correspondent, Frank Gardiner wrote:
Quote:
Naval officers say there were no casualties on either side but if raids like this are repeated - as they probably will be - the pirates are likely to adapt their operations making it harder for their equipment to be destroyed without also hitting local Somalis.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18069685

Note later verbally Frank Gardiner added the five skiffs were machine gunned by helicopters.

Personally I think this verges on theatre. The BBC report cites the pirates:
Quote:
They are believed to be holding about 17 ships and 300 crew.
and not to overlook:
Quote:
the Greek-owned oil tanker Smyrni which was hijacked in the Arabian Sea last week. The Liberian-flagged tanker carrying 135,000 tonnes of oil is reported to be heading for Somalia.
So we really do care about the kidnapped crew? No, we do't and I expect largely as they are not EU nationals.

Then there is the well documented, sorry reported lack of capability and will to act against captured pirates - the 'catch & release' policy. Which IIRC was last reported by a Danish warship, that held their prisoners for thirty days and then let them go.

If the Greek tanker reaches Somalia one wonders how the EU "spin" doctors will translate this statement to explain:
Quote:
The focused, precise and proportionate action was conducted from the air and all forces returned safely to EU warships on completion.
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Old 08-28-2012   #689
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Piracy around Horn of Africa has plunged, U.S. says

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WASHINGTON — Acts of piracy in the treacherous waters around the Horn of Africa have fallen sharply in 2012, according to statistics released by the United States Navy. The Navy credits aggressive patrolling by international forces and increased vigilance by the commercial shipping industry for the decrease.

Data released by the Navy last week showed 46 pirate attacks in the area this year, compared with 222 in all of last year and 239 in 2010. Nine of the piracy attempts this year have been successful, according to the data, compared with 34 successful attacks in all of 2011 and 68 in 2010.

Even so, senior Navy officers have been careful not to declare victory.
“The pirates are very adaptable, and they are very flexible,” said Vice Adm. Mark I. Fox, the Navy’s deputy chief for operations, plans and strategy. “We are watching carefully ...”
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Old 08-28-2012   #690
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I have previously cited the IMB's statistics and their latest figures for 2012, a week old are:
Quote:
Incidents Reported for Somalia:
Total Incidents: 70
Total Hijackings:13
Total Hostages: 212

Current vessels held by Somali pirates:
Vessels: 11 Hostages: 188.
Link:http://www.icc-ccs.org/piracy-report...cynewsafigures

This was the situation last year:
Quote:
According to 18 August 2011 data presented by ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre, piracy in Somalia this year has led to 178 incidents, 22 hijackings, 362 hostages, and 7 deaths. IMB further found that pirates are currently holding 19 vessels and 377 crew members.
There are some differences from the USN figures, although there is a decline in attacks and thankfully a drop in the hostages held - whom officialdom appear to view with Admiral Nelson's blind eye.
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Old 08-29-2012   #691
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Default Held for nearly 2.5yrs, 24 sailors: forgotten?

At last a lengthy account of some of the hostages held in Somalia.

Have you heard of the Iceberg 1? I hadn't, although aware that hostages were being held and from the start of the article:
Quote:
She set sail from Aden in the spring of 2010, the start of a long journey that should have seen her deliver a cargo of electrical equipment to England. Then, barely ten miles out to sea, the Iceberg 1 suffered a fate all too predictable for a slow-going cargo craft in the Gulf of Aden: she was hijacked by Somali pirates.

Unlike the scores of other vessels snared there in recent years, though, no ransom has been forthcoming to free her crew of 24, nor has a foreign navy tried to rescue them. Instead, nearly two and a half years later, they are still in captivity on the high seas - seemingly abandoned by the ship’s owners, and with the dubious distinction of being the longest hijack case in modern maritime history.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...i-pirates.html

Name & shame the owners, who have done almost nothing:
Quote:
is owned by Dubai-based Azal Shipping & Cargo, whose management have been accused of leaving the crew to their fate. Until last month, Azal had declined to even meet with the hostages’ families, who say they have also refused to pay wages in absentia for the sailors, many of whom are the main breadwinners in their households.
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Old 09-21-2012   #692
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Default How the UN saved the Somali pirates from the brink of extinction

A sorry tale of rivalry, power and a "strategic corporal" thanks to FP Blog, with a long article on a UAE funded attempt to counter piracy on land in Puntland:
Quote:
In June of this year, my bow-hunting friend, a group of four dozen South African mentors,and 500 newly trained Somali recruits pointed their armada of 70 shiny Toyota Land cruisers, a small fleet of high-powered rigid inflatable boats, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft towards the coast of Somalia -- the heart of pirate country.

This once-motley group, the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF), had been trained by African, British, South African, and U.S. foreign contractors for two years; in May 2011, they began setting up forward operating bases in remote coastal areas of Eyl, Hafun, Bargal, and Qaw. By June 2012, they were ready for the full invasion wave.
The final irony is in the last sentence:
Quote:
Meanwhile, pirate chief Isse Yulux seems to be doing fine: he's even offered to pay the salaries of the remaining PMPF officers.
Link to article first and then photos:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...ates?page=full and http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...es_of_puntland

On SWC we often desire local partners willing and capable of doing the hard work, yes even when paid by outsiders, but there must be something in the Somali air and air-conditioned rooms nearby that destroys hope.
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Old 09-21-2012   #693
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Hat tip to CIMIC for the link to an official Puntland statement rejecting an allegation made by ABC that the PMPF was a 'private army':http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/...cy_Force.shtml
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Old 10-05-2012   #694
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WASHINGTON — It seemed like a simple idea: In the chaos that is Somalia, create a sophisticated, highly trained fighting force that could finally defeat the pirates terrorizing the shipping lanes off the Somali coast.

But the creation of the Puntland Maritime Police Force was anything but simple. It involved dozens of South African mercenaries and the shadowy security firm that employed them, millions of dollars in secret payments by the United Arab Emirates, a former clandestine officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, and Erik Prince, the billionaire former head of Blackwater Worldwide who was residing at the time in the emirates.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/wo...n-somalia.html
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Old 10-29-2012   #695
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Default Puntland Part Time Regulatory Farce

Why does this sound so similar to ... well, to EVERYTHING we read in the press?

just one example paraphrase:

"WASHINGTON — It seemed like a simple idea: In the chaos that is [Washington, DC], create a sophisticated, highly trained [economic] force that could finally defeat the pirates terrorizing the [finance] lanes off the [Wall Street] coast.

But the creation of the Puntland [Parttime Regulatory Farce] was anything but simple. It involved dozens of [retired political] mercenaries and the shadowy [lobbyist] firms that employed them, millions of dollars in secret payments by the United [Grab Campaignirates], a former clandestine officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, and the [Princelings], the billionaire former [employees] of [the too big to fail banks] who [were] residing at the time in all the [key policy agencies]."
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Old 11-08-2012   #696
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Default Piracy is down, at a cost

Short update and then the cost of anti-piracy measures for the shipowners:
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Piracy off the coast of Somalia has dropped off dramatically in 2012. Successful ship hijackings have decreased from 31 in 2011 (and 49 in 2010) to only four so far in 2012. Attacks against ships have also decreased, falling from 199 reported attacks in the first nine months of 2011 to 70 attacks over the same span in 2012 -- a 65 percent drop. However, diminished activity does not necessarily mean a decrease in the cost of sailing around the Horn of Africa.
Armed guards:
Quote:
the widespread deployment of armed guards beginning in 2011 (guards had been used sparingly as far back as 2008) has a very close correlation to the recent decrease in hijackings. In late 2009, only about 10-20 percent of commercial ships sailing through waters where Somali pirates operate carried guards; today, some estimates put the percentage as high as 70 percent. To date, pirates have never successfully hijacked a ship that had armed guards. But it should be noted that, even though the use of armed guards appears to be the most effective countermeasure against piracy, there are other factors at work.
The cost:
Quote:
...the total annual cost for shipping companies merely to deploy armed guards on their ships through the Gulf of Aden is between about $800 million and $1.4 billion.
Taken from "The Expensive, Diminishing Threat of Somali Piracy is republished with permission of Stratfor":http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/expen...-somali-piracy
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Old 11-19-2012   #697
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Default In the dumps - North Korean style

A simply bizarre story:
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the quasi-government of Puntland has confirmed that security forces impounded a North Korea-Flagged vessel, M.V. Daesan, for dumping materials, including cement, near the coast of the Puntland port city of Bossaso, the radio adds...was seized 13 nautical miles east of Bossaso as it was in the process of unloading some 5,000 metric tonnes of cement. The Puntland authorities have condemned the illegal and environmentally destructive practice by the ship-owners.
Link:http://www.nknews.org/2012/11/north-...uck-in-somali/
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Old 12-23-2012   #698
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Default Held for nearly 2.5yrs, 24 sailors: forgotten? Part Two.

Quote:
The Panama-flagged MV Iceberg One was seized off the Yemeni coast in 2009, and was being held near Gara'ad village on the coast in Mudug region when Puntland's maritime troops surrounded it on 10 December.

In their statement, the Puntland authorities said their troops fought the pirates for two weeks before safely rescuing all 22 hostages on board the ship.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20832401

At last! I have m' doubts about a long fight, more likely a cordon and talk. Note no reference to any prisoners being taken.
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Old 12-24-2012   #699
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Thanks for keeping us posted on this David. It is unusual that all the surviving crewmen seem to have been rescued yet some of the pirates were killed. Good job I guess.
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Old 01-17-2013   #700
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Default Anti-piracy: privateer option, 1st get a lawyer!

Hat tip to Lowy Institute's 'The Interpreter' for this Australian news item (behind a paywall) 'Glencore chief Simon Murray launches private navy to combat Somali pirate threat':
Quote:
This private navy will use a 10,000-ton mother ship, high-speed armoured patrol boats, '240 former marines and sailors' and one former Royal Navy commodore to provide security to oil tankers and bulk carriers as they traverse the piracy plagued Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. Murray insists that this is more cost effective than using sovereign warships to patrol the waters off Somalia.
The blog post ends with:
Quote:
Typhon is sailing into a deep legal fog. Presumably the company is investigating these issues, though it has made no public statements on the subject (and it does not appear to have a website). One thing is certain; Typhon had better have a very good lawyer on speed dial.
Link:http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/...vate-navy.aspx

Not to overlook:
Quote:
There has been no successful hijacking since June 2012, when a fishing dhow was seized, according to data from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
Link:http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/42...n-glencore.htm
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