Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) April 15, 2009 -- Over the weekend up to five pirates were killed in clashes between the pirates, Americans and French patrols, in two separate incidents. The American attack was ordered by President Barak Obama, as they sought to rescue an American captain held captive in a covered life raft.
Speaking from the central pirate lair in Somalia's eastern coast, one of the pirate says "We shall revenge". Some fear the return of the throat cutting pirates of old.
The current wave of Somali pirate incidents has been censured by the United Nations Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah. "Piracy is being carried out up to 900 kilometres from the coast".
With six more ships hijacked this week, favourable weather conditions appear to have caused the latest spat of hijackings. It has permitted the Somali pirates to change their area of operation and work further out to sea.
The navy ships heavily patrol shipping corridors in the Gulf, where up to 50 ships a day bottleneck the entrance to the Red Sea. The show of solidarity from the international naval presence in the area, however, appears to make little difference to the pirateâs activities. The region of the coast of Somalia and Kenya and the Gulf of Aden equals more than 1.1 million square miles, which is the size of the Mediterranean and Red Sea combined.
In support of Somalia, the League of Arab States, United Nations, African Union, Organization of Islamic Conference and the European Unionâs European Commission are gathering on April 23rd. They will address the problems of security and the root causes of the Somali piracy. Somalia has had no functioning central authority for just on two decades. Piracy has surfaced as the only viable business. The real answer to the piracy problem would basically require the rebuilding of a nation. A price tag no one is prepared to pickup right now.
Piracy around Somalia doubled in 2008, with 111 attacks reported. These account for just one third of all piracy globally. It is believed the pirates have collected millions of dollars in ransom last year, which they have significantly invested in improving their equipment. The pirates now concentrate on targeting container ships. It is believed that Somali tribes who were not previously involved in the piracy, are now joining the 'gold rush'.
"Around one-third of 1 percent of all ships travelling the Gulf are seajacked", says James Capiniti, acting deputy administrator of the federal Marine Administration. As piracy affects all shipping in the region, it pushes up the costs of international trade. This comes at a point in time when the world-wide recession is dramatically cutting the volume of trade. Europe is hardest hit, as over 80% of trade which flows through the Gulf of Aden, has European destinations.
In a recent interview, John Patch, an associate professor for strategic intelligence at the US Army War College and a retired Navy surface warfare officer and career intelligence officer, said. "There's quite a lot of hype involved. World opinion is often driven by passion, incidents of the moment and US pride. The data behind the actual seizures is very varied. The naval task force in the Gulf of Aden escorts daily many ships with safe passages. You need to compare the number of piracy incidents to the actual safe passages and you'll see that the instances are still very low." The first American flag flying ship has been pirated since the early eighteen hundreds.
More than 250 hostages and eighteen ships are currently held for ransom by the Somali pirates.
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