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Stopping Piracy, A Better Way

by By Ali Osman
Tuesday, March 08, 2011

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It is clear anti-piracy navies patrolling the Indian Ocean failed their core mission in putting a stop to Somali pirates as the recent killing of four innocent American sailors has shown.

The piracy is contributing factor to already rising food prices due to the extra protection and insurance required by ships carrying food and petrol for international markets.

It is estimated that more than $8 billion dollars has been spent last year by the world in an effort to thwart Somali pirates. With this huge financial expenditure, more than 70 ships were hijacked and more than 1400 crew members were held hostage. The ransom paid to pirates exceeded $245 million dollars and still counting.

The Somali piracy enterprises have shown to be effective and lucrative business and already copy-cats are bound following the Somali pirate’s play-book in places like West Africa, Middle East and Asia. 

The world is failing to address piracy because they fail to address the core issue and the engine of piracy which is lawlessness in Somalia. The Somali piracy is caused by widespread lawlessness inside Somalia. If the lawlessness in Somali is addressed, the Somali piracy would disappear overnight as the source that is driving piracy: lawlessness, poverty and general lack of security will be eliminated.

The current Somali government led by the Somali born American Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed known as Mr. Farmajo has shown to be effective. He has appointed small but effective technocrat cabinet from the Somali Diaspora. Less than 100 days in office, his nascent government controls almost 70% of the capital. It is remarkable that less than 3 months ago, this government was holding less than 5km square and was feared that extremists would overrun it.

If less than 20% of what the world has paid to fight the Somali piracy last year was diverted to assist the Somali government the world would be a much safer place and piracy would have been in its last legs. Thanks to misguided policy and misguided United Nations efforts, the world is dealing with a more menacing and ever expanding pirate networks that have more information and firepower than some of the navies patrolling the Somali coast.

Building more prisons, more courts and more severe actions against pirates at sea is not going to dent pirate attacks simply because, the men at sea are illiterate, poor and hopeless gangs that are being sent from the land by much organized and technologically savvy pirate business men. If these youths are captured or killed there are plenty illiterate, poor and hopeless youth willing to replace them for good meal and promise of few dollars.
The world is well advised to take the initiative and support the current Prime Minister and his government to get hold of the Somali security situation and empower them to deal with these criminal elements at the local level.

The current government has taken genuine steps in stopping corruption, nepotism and infighting that have plagued the previous governments. They have shown they are capable administrators with their limited resources. The question is would the world take notice and make best out of this new hope or squander it?

By Ali Osman
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