Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 21, 2008

Jana Shakarian or How to Bomb for a Ph.D.

Some weird terror scare is constructed in this:  Somali Pirates' Successful Business Model, Trade with Terrorists: UM Researcher

The Somali pirates are growing their business - expanding their area of operation, managing public relations, reinvesting in the enterprise - and appear to have a growing relationship with militant Islamic groups, says University of Maryland researcher, Jana Shakarian, who monitors political, social and security conditions in Africa.
...
Al-Shabaab is suspected to entertain relations with Al-Qaeda. ... Al-Shabaab seems to profit from the piracy business ...

Shakarian makes up a six degree relation between the Somali coast guard/pirates and Al-Qaeda. But there is not one tiny bit of proof for any of the those relations.

David Axe, who has at least been on the grounds in Somalia, finds such relations very unlikely.

b real points us to the real news:

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Dozens of Somali Islamist insurgents stormed a port on Friday hunting the pirates behind the seizure of a Saudi supertanker that was the world's biggest hijack, a local elder said.

and:

MOGADISHU (AFP) — A hardline Islamist alliance controlling Somalia's main southern port of Kismayo on Wednesday promised tough measures to protect ships and traders from marauding pirates.

The pirates/Somali coast guardians have so far only demanded money for returning the ships they captured. They have no political demands and use as little violence as possible. The have no connection to any of the Islamic movements there.

So who is this Jana Shakarian who is asserting this nonsense relation between the pirates and terrorists?

Her sole academic record is (scroll down) a master in sociology and ethnology from a German university. In 2005 she was several weeks in Ethiopia. Certainly a great place to learn about the sociological configuration of Ethiopia's archenemy Somalia.

Jana Shakarian is now working at the Laboratory for Computational Cultural Dynamics at the University of Maryland. What is that lab doing ?

The purpose of the laboratory is to develop the theory and algorithms required for tools to support decision making in cultural contexts.

The 'Computational Cultural Dynamics' tool:

Will_cultivate_poppies(F):[0.7,1] if debt-level(F,D) & D > d.
(hostile_foreigners(F) and Will_cultivate_poppies(F)):[0.6,1] if debt-level(F,D) & D > d.

Great stuff! Guess who is interested in such 'quant' nonsense form of social science. Yes. Since 2006 the laboratory is working on a $6 million contract/grand project for the U.S. Air Force.

The lab's 'latest news' list shows two of its members' publications in Science. It also shows three publications by them in National Review Online, one in the New York Sun and one publication as a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed.

A right-wing oriented, military financed pseudo-research shop.

Shakarian must be a recent acquisition as she is not on the staff list which was last updated in February. She seems to have been hired fresh from her master thesis as the 'expert' on the Horn of Africa to expand the labs 'expertise' from Pakistan/Afghanistan to the next area where it can make a nice profit and earn some additional pseudo-science credentials.

Now the first task for the new lady is to construct a threat where none is. That is a hard task when the facts, Reuters and AFP are refuting that construct the very same day. But it may well work. She will only need to 'build' the story a bit more scary and repeat it over and over. Publish it on National Review Online? Sure, eventually someone might use it.

When that 'threat' is established, her next task will be to convince some military dudes to chip over a seven digit amount of money to lab to forecast group behavior in Somalia. With a bit of personal commitment and some ambition, the young lady should have no problem with that task.

She can then work on her well financed Ph.D. thesis by computing some senseless stochastic probability model on group behavior in Somalia which, in reality, is driven by a myriad of factors she does not know and has never experienced in her own life. To test her thesis the Air Force will drop some bombs on the vigilantes her false models will reliably identify as Al-Qaeda affiliates.

Her professor will rake in some money, Jana Shakarian will get her Ph.D. and some people in Africa will die.

"Isn't that the way it should be?" she may ask.

Posted by b on November 21, 2008 at 03:17 PM | Permalink

Comments

jesus

Posted by: annie | Nov 21, 2008 3:37:11 PM | 1

Pirates on the high seas are one of the many consequences of the Bush ideology being overwhelmed by reality. I remember neo-con pundit Charles Krauthammer crowing how the invading Ethiopians would bring stability to Somalia and thinking fat chance that invading Christians would bring security there.

The reality is with the USA headed into a depression the only goal can be the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. This requires talking to the Taliban, Islamic Courts and Iran or anyone else to set up some kind of governance in the occupied land.

Piracy is the clear sign that the neo-con crusade has failed. If the US Navy can't guard the shipping lanes, globalization is in its final convulsions. History is back with vengeance.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Nov 21, 2008 3:57:09 PM | 2

@VV - Josh Marshal of TPM, a historian by trade, wrote a few days ago:

historically, the rising incidence of piracy has frequently, if not always, been a sign of the receding reach of whatever great power has taken on responsibility for policing the sea lanes. The decline of the Hellenistic monarchies in the Mediterranean before the rise of Rome. Caribbean piracy during Spain's long slide into decrepitude and before England decided she lost more than she gained from it. There are many examples.
Everybody seems now to be racing this or that frigate to the Horn to prove to be a decent successor of the U.S. in ruling the seas and guaranteeing the safety of traffic.

It is certainly a sign of diminished U.S. capability and influence.


---
@annie - jesus well - don't know that guy well enough, but I know a bit on how academia works.

That Shakarian piece is as soulless as it gets and deserves that treatment.

Posted by: b | Nov 21, 2008 4:18:27 PM | 3

geez. good job, b. it's obvious propaganda & pretty piss poor, at that. a puntland official & at least one conservative think tank tried to link the pirates hijacking the mv faina to al shabaab a couple months ago. haha.

shakarian (or whoever penned the press release - can't waste time looking for the original document) doesn't even know the friggin' territory. from that PR link

By monitoring the hijacked vessel's movement, it can be assumed that the majority of perpetrators are based in North-East Somalia - hitherto a relatively stable part of the country called Somaliland.

that right there should discount the entire argument. the majority come from puntland, not somaliland, as does the warlord president of the TFG and it's the links b/w puntland & TFG officials to some of the actual pirate syndicates that needs to be stressed.

there are different groups involved in the hijackings going on. some are volunteer coast guards, protecting their shores from ships violating their waters & fisheries & health while extracting fees, others are in it strictly for the money and, as we've linked to before, are reportedly financed from far outside somalia -

Those bankrolling the attacks from bases in the United Arab Emirates or Kenya, and sometimes as far afield as Canada, London or Hong Kong, can net several million dollars from a single strike, depending on the nationality of the shipowner, the origins and gender of the crew, the cargo and the age of the boat.

maps of hijackings & attempts: (nato from nov 18, unosat from oct 2)

Posted by: b real | Nov 21, 2008 5:37:36 PM | 4

The last time Somali piracy was essentially at zero was the 2nd half of 2006 when the Islamic Courts Union was in charge. Then the US helped the Ethiopians overthrow them..

Posted by: Tosk | Nov 21, 2008 7:43:17 PM | 5

Well she is right in pointing out that the majority of attacks comes from North-East Somalia, pity they did not have a map so that they could see that North-East Somalia is Puntland. I am continually amazed at the sloppiness of these think tanks. Nobody told them about wikipedia?

Somaliland is North or North-West Somalia depending on where you place the center. And the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia - that would be the scary islamists - is in the South.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Nov 21, 2008 7:43:54 PM | 6

the shoddy 'scholarship' of the likes of shakarian is the rule not the exception. it is left for our empiricists b real & b do the dirty work of study - which is to interrogate, question & offering

the role of people like shakarian is to lie, to sanitise to efface & to forget

the heresy of the academy's so called scholars is to foreget everything & to know nothing

it is no wonder then that there is so little wisdom & that has to be found in our subterranean realms

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 21, 2008 8:01:44 PM | 7


seems the CIA is no longer what it used to be. Back in the days, they would have hooked up with the Somali pirates. And the smugglers too -- trafficking booze, guns, dope & porno through the Red-Sea & the Indian Ocean.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Nov 21, 2008 9:13:12 PM | 8

Pulverizing. Posts such as these are what set MoA apart. I mean, ordinary shmucks, and I, sense BS wafting from academia but are too deuced busy and/or lazy to the finger on it.

Posted by: Cloud | Nov 21, 2008 9:58:53 PM | 9

*academia, newspapers, or wherever the BS be from

Posted by: Cloud | Nov 21, 2008 10:00:52 PM | 10

On the other hand, http://chronicle.com/news/article/5534/german-university-awards-phd-to-88-year-old-who-was-denied-the-degree-in-1943>a deserving man received his doctorate--after 65 years of waiting.

Posted by: Obelix | Nov 22, 2008 12:01:27 AM | 11

b - all bow, finally! this story represents only the tiniest of the black ops off-budget death veils covering US "Defense"-ivory tower strategic position paper corruption, and their white lab coat welfare dole sci-fi for hire, and their NeoZi war of domestic propaganda like MSM's recent "Iran bomb", continuing unabated. Where's the promised "change"?

annie 1) no, jebeelzebub! jesus had nothing to do with it.

vv 2) interesting piece on NPR, the EU navies are forbidden to interfere because to do so would create a violation of EU sanctions, and give the pirates a right of EU political asylum, or best/worst case, turning them over to Sharia law will get them beheaded, then suddenly EU becomes an accomplice to Al Queda. US has no dog in the fight, but Blackwater already left port to provide the first mercenary ship guard.

The question you have to ask yourself is, what would Hillary do?

Posted by: Ed Monton | Nov 22, 2008 1:29:55 AM | 12

Folks,

I called Jana today to talk this story over with her. It was very clear, from the outset, that she knows very little about Somalia and is basing her "analysis" on a cursory reading of wire reports from Somalia, plus a lot of assumptions. Indeed, her assertion that Islamists support pirates, she told me, is based entirely on the fact that many pirates are based in the south, and so are the Islamists. Furthermore, she told me that her analysis got her "in trouble" ... with whom, she didn't say. But I think we can discount anything she says from here on out on the piracy subject.

Cheers,

David

Posted by: David Axe | Nov 22, 2008 1:42:35 AM | 13

jony,
seeing how the pirates has been reported to have strong connections to the warlords crowd of the TFG - the erstwhile allies of Ethiopia and the US - I would not rule out that the CIA is in there somewhere too. Or maybe it is all privatised these days.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Nov 22, 2008 3:36:15 AM | 14

Thanks again to b for what looks like a convincing exposé. It's difficult not to see this as anything but obscure maneuvering to "ratchet up" something resembling an excuse a new wave of Western (i.e., mostly U.S.) intervention under the usual rubric of fighting the ever-useful but increasingly incredible menace of Al Qaeda.
Althogh Shakarian's funding comes from the U.S. Air Forse, it may be that the the goal of the obscure maneuvering is to give the U.S. Navy a better quota of high priced chow from the taxpayer gravy train. Up to now the Army, Air Force, and intelligence agencies seem to have been the major beneficiaries of the GWOT (tell me if I'm wrong on that). In the never ending internal pentagon budgetary battles (the real ``long war") it may be that the Navy sees a chance for some budgetary leverage arising from funding long term anti-pirate patrolling in tropical waters. Although this would fit neatly into the megalomaniacal Africom "mission", one should nevertheless note that U.S. defense planning is not exclusively in the hands of ideologues and fools. For instance, putting aside the obligatory (and, for the authors, quite natural) rhetoric regarding the "major threat to the economic well-being of the world" and the "short-term" need for an increased Western naval presence, the discussion in this IHT editorial seems, to me at least, to be rational and open to rational debate, such as that provided here at MOA. Whether or not such analysis will in fact be the basis for policy is, of course, an entirely separate, and, alas, more relevant question.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Nov 22, 2008 5:20:10 AM | 15

a 'policy analyst' at the heritage foundation uses the occasion to press the following self-worshipping (warshipping?) anti-piracy initiative recommendations:

The United States can adequately serve the interests of Americans while preventing disruption of the global supply chain by taking the following actions:

  • Promote International Responses to the Piracy Situation
  • Modernization of the United States Coast Guard
  • Highlight AFRICOM as a Resource for African Leaders - "The U.S. government should work with allies in the region to focus more closely on piracy, support regional efforts to address these concerns, and bolster the capacity of African nations to tackle these problems. This approach avoids a large military presence and attends to the issue in a less-evasive, grassroots manner, ensuring that American interests remain at the forefront."
  • Bolster U.S. Intelligence-Gathering and International Efforts Inside Somalia

    If the U.S. does not act in its own interests first, it will do little to protect the security of Americans, and it will perpetuate fears by African countries that the U.S. seeks to have a sustained military presence in the region for less than honest reasons.

    how interesting. acting first & foremost in our own interests -- which has nothing to do w/ popular interests, btw -- will assuage african fears that we are not being honest in our aims for their continent.

    Posted by: b real | Nov 22, 2008 1:29:54 PM | 16

  • reuters: Somali rebels take steps to attack tanker pirates

    MOGADISHU (Reuters) Islamist militants in Somalia took steps on Saturday to attack pirates behind the world's biggest hijack and rescue the captured Saudi Arabian supertanker, an Islamist spokesman said.
    ...
    One faction of the Islamists has vowed to attack the gang holding the tanker, in retaliation for them seizing a "Muslim" vessel.

    "We have arranged our fighters," Islamist spokesman Abdirahim Isse Adow told Reuters on Saturday. "The first step is to cut off pirates inland from those on the Saudi ship by restricting their supplies and cutting their communications."

    But the militants -- who have been battling Somalia's Western-backed government for nearly two years and have slowly advanced on the capital Mogadishu -- are split.

    Haradheere residents said another group of Islamists had arrived in the town, apparently with less noble intentions.

    "A group of Islamists met some of the pirates here and asked for a share of the ransom," one local man, who gave his name as Farah, told Reuters by telephone.

    "The pirates promised them something after the ransom was paid. But there is no deal so far."

    hmmm. i'm always suspicious of these phone contacts that pop up in reuters coverage of somalia. there's a history of using highly selective quotes to help shape a narrative that differs from what i read in reporting in somalia and sometimes you just have to wonder if the reporter isn't just making it up. after all, is it solid reporting practice in journalism to introduce what is a pretty damning stmt simply sourced to "one local man, who gave his name as Farah"? funny how one rarely ever observes the same practice at reuters when it comes to charges against western-backed allies or proxies. and who is this other faction?

    an AFP report leads the reader to assume that it's al shabaab

    Residents said clan militias and Islamist fighters had arrived in the village and its surroundings over the past two or three days.

    The Islamist Shebab group which controls much of Somalia has repeatedly stated it was fiercely opposed to piracy, which in Islamic law is a capital offence, and has vowed to root out pirates.

    But an Islamist official in Harardhere told AFP the Shebab fighters in the region had no intention of attacking the pirate group and residents said greed was the only explanation for the coastal hamlet's recent crowding.

    nothing on this in the somali media that i've looked through, outside of a comment speculating that "It is obvious that there are factions under the domain of foreign control"

    adding to the mystery of exactly who hijacked the sirius star, the reuters article illustrates one of the anomalies

    Andrew Mwangura of the regional East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme said ransom talks were continuing.

    "The talks are going well. That is, they have not stalled, but it is very difficult getting any information at all about that ship," he told Reuters.

    mwangura' SAP generally has good intel & access to hijackers along the eastern seaboard

    Posted by: b real | Nov 22, 2008 3:51:21 PM | 17

    dumb headline, decent content

    east african standard: Pirates call the shots as world frets


    An expert on piracy with the Institute of Security Studies in Nairobi, Mr Mohammed Guyo, on Thursday blamed the dramatic rise in piracy on the international community’s failure to address a socio-political and economic wound that had been festering for decades.

    ...

    While it is generally agreed that piracy in the Gulf of Aden is a product of lawlessness in Somalia, accounts of how it began and blossomed point an accusing finger at the industrialised nations.

    According to Guyo, the developed nations took advantage of the governance vacuum in Somalia and began dumping illegal toxic wastes in Somali waters following the collapse of the Mohammed Siad Barre government in 1991.

    His view is shared by a United Nations official accredited to Somalia who says piracy was aggravated by illegal fishing by Asian countries, precipitating a need to fend off the encroachment on marine resources by foreigners.

    The UN, through its special envoy to Somalia, Mr Ould Ahmedou Abdallah, reported in July this year that the scramble for unregulated utilisation of marine resources had precipitated a resistance by warlords extorting ‘protection fees’ from foreign firms.

    According to the agency, the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden waters are a rich fishing ground for Asian and Middle East firms.

    The scramble for fish in the past used to explode into bloody territorial wars, necessitating the ‘assistance’ of pirates. Ahmedou added that when industrialised nations began dumping toxic waste off the coast of Somalia, it triggered strong resistance from militia groups that protected special interests in the region.

    "I am convinced there is dumping of solid waste, chemicals and probably nuclear waste because of lack of government control and there are few people with high moral ground," Ahmedou said.

    He observed further, "Because there is no effective government, there is so much irregular fishing from European and Asian countries."

    ...

    He warned that unless there was a concerted effort to break links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, corruption and human rights abuses, illegal fishing, and dumping of toxic waste, piracy would remain a threat.

    "It is a disaster off the Somali coast, a disaster (for) the Somali environment, the Somali population. This is an environment where accountability means little and where the traditional clan linkages are giving way to the law of the gun," the UN official said.

    ...

    Guyo concurs that there is no credible evidence linking the pirates to terrorism.

    "What is evident is that the collapse of the government in 1991 let loose many gun users in the form of soldiers and other security agents. This former security personnel were in turn hired by clan leaders and warlords to do the bidding for them after undergoing training."

    Posted by: b real | Nov 22, 2008 5:10:47 PM | 18

    b - An interesting tidbit - the Iraqi MOD is claiming that if Parliament does not approve the SOFA and the US withdraws too fast, the pirates may take over the Gulf as well ... very creative claim indeed what with the 5th Fleet in Bahrain and all the neighboring navies.

    (using this tonight for my regular FDL, but thought you would enjoy it)

    Posted by: Siun | Nov 23, 2008 4:45:13 AM | 19

    africa news: Militia vows to free hijacked ship

    The Al shabab group has taken over the Harardhere district where the pirates of Somalia bring most hijacked ships. The private army subjugated the Harardhere district, the second base of Somali pirates and said "we are going to free bower Sirius Star from the hands of the kidnappers."

    Heavily armed troops with battle weapons and vehicles are on the streets of the district of Harardhere in the Mudug region, 530km northeast from the capital of Mogadishu. Al shabab said that they will use their own force and ability to catch back without charge the Sirius Star from the Somali pirates.

    “They conquered the town, without spoiling for a fight here, no disfigurement from this youth groups, we are joyful because we freed up [from] the pirates,” said Abokar Moalin Ahmed one of the local elders in Harardhere.

    “Nowadays pirates' action influenced our town, the business goes speed and far above the ground, and the life is hard to the normal people. We cannot purchase at the markets price of Coco cola, clean water, sugar or on a daily basis routine,” Ahmed said

    afp: Tension mounts in Somalia

    Tension mounted on Sunday between pirates holding a Saudi tanker and Islamist fighters threatening to attack them, with a week remaining for the ship's owners to meet a $25-million ransom demand.

    "If the pirates want peace, they had better release the tanker," Sheikh Ahmed, a spokesman for the Shebab group in the coastal region of Harardhere, told AFP by phone.

    ...

    Islamist leaders have stressed that piracy is a capital offence under Islam and officially condemned the surge in acts of piracy in Somalia's waters, which has begun to disrupt international trade.

    A member of the pirate group holding the Sirius Star retorted that his own men were not afraid of the Shebab's threats.

    "We are the Shebab of the sea and we can't be scared by the Shebab of the land," Mohamed Said told AFP. "If anybody attempts to attack, that would be suicide."

    Posted by: b real | Nov 23, 2008 12:04:01 PM | 20

    bloomberg: Somali Pirates Move Saudi Tanker as Islamists Warn of Attacks

    Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Somali pirates who hijacked a Saudi Arabian supertanker moved the vessel from its location at the port city of Harardhere, after Islamist militias threatened to attack them and rescue the ship, a tribal elder said.

    The Islamic Courts Union warned the pirates to leave Harardhere, Ali Elmi, a local elder in the town, said in a phone interview today. The tanker was taken out to sea and its destination isn’t clear, he said. Al-Shabaab, a separate Islamist group, also said it would attack the pirates if they don’t free the ship.

    Posted by: b real | Nov 23, 2008 12:27:11 PM | 21

    Warships from all Russian Navy fleets to fight piracy off Somalia

    (snip)
    "Regular presence in that problem region means the accomplishment of tasks both by separate warships and warship groups from all the fleets to ensure safe shipping in the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa region as a whole," Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky said.
    (snip)

    Posted by: Alamet | Nov 23, 2008 5:28:27 PM | 22

    sydney morning herald: Fishing fleets are pirates, too

    WHILE their warships patrol the Gulf of Aden to protect merchant shipping from Somali pirates, a number of those nations are directly linked to foreign fishing fleets that are plundering Somalia's fish stocks, says a new paper on reasons behind the growth of piracy off the Horn of Africa.

    There are warships from India, Malaysia, Britain, the US, France, Russia, Spain and South Korea in the region shepherding merchant shipping and pursuing pirates but largely ignoring the illegal foreign fishers.

    Somalia's 3300-kilometre coast is the longest on the African continent. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates there are "700 foreign-owned vessels fully engaged in unlicensed fishing in Somali waters".

    The collapse of the local fishing industry and subsequent poverty of coastal communities has been cited as one reason piracy has flourished in Somalia's lawless semi-autonomous province of Puntland.

    Vessels from France, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Egypt, Kenya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Belize and Honduras exploit Somalia's fish stocks with virtual impunity, says Dr Clive Schofield's paper, Plundered Waters: Somalia's Maritime Resource Insecurity.

    "It is particularly ironic that many of the nations that are presently contributing warships to the anti-piracy flotillas patrolling, or set to patrol, the waters off the Horn of Africa, are themselves directly linked to the foreign fishing vessels that are busily plundering Somalia's offshore resources," Dr Schofield, a researcher with the University of Wollongong's Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security.

    ...

    It was estimated that foreign fishing vessels were taking considerably more protein out of Somalia's waters than they were supplying to Somalia in the form of humanitarian food aid, he said.

    With almost a third of Somalia's 10 million people in acute need of aid, the systematic theft from its fisheries seriously affects the strife-torn country's ability to feed itself.

    that's yet another reason that the u.n. security council sanctions -- that "also targets anyone obstructing delivery of humanitarian assistance to Somalia" -- voted on thursday are so ludicrous! hard to imagine that they'll ever be used against the very parties most responsible for causing the situation in somalia, both inland & at sea. meanwhile, since they're having such an impossible time trying to id just who is a potential pirate, the boys on the warships will eventually start harassing, if not firing upon, the remaining small fishing boats still trying to ply their trade in those waters.

    unable to find that paper by schofield at this time

    Posted by: b real | Nov 23, 2008 6:39:35 PM | 23

    not sure what's going on w/ russia there. they keep claiming that the somali govt invites them in, based on a somali ambassador in moscow, mohamed handule, though i recall reading commentary that undermined any official capacity he has. after the georgian invasion of south ossetia he announced that somali recognized s.o.'s independence, though the TFG quickly denied that.

    bhadrakumar wrote in an article last month

    To be sure, the littoral states would have taken note of the scrambling by NATO and India to deploy naval forces on a sea route that is crucial for the countries of the Asian region. Trade and imports of oil by China pass through this sea lane. All the same, China has merely reported on the NATO deployment without any comments. Russia, on the other hand, didn't bother to report but preferred to swiftly respond.

    Last Tuesday, even as the NATO naval force left for the Indian Ocean, it was stated in Moscow that a missile frigate from Russia's Baltic fleet - aptly named Neustrashimy [Fearless] - was already heading to the Indian Ocean "to fight piracy off Somalia's coast". Moscow claimed that the Somali government sought Russian assistance. ("Russian warship en route for anti-piracy mission off Somalia")

    Two days later, on Thursday, as the Indian Defense Ministry was making its announcement, it was revealed by the speaker of the Upper House of the Russian parliament, Segei Mironov, an influential politician close to the Kremlin, that Russia might resume its Soviet-era naval presence in Yemen. Interestingly, Mironov made the announcement while on a visit to Sana, Yemen. He said Yemen sought Russia's help to fight piracy and possible terrorist threats and that a decision would be taken in Moscow to respond in accordance with the "new direction" of Russia's foreign and defense policies.

    "It is possible that the aspects of using Yemen ports not only for visits by Russia warships but also for more strategic goals will be considered," Mironov said. He further revealed that a visit by the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to Moscow is scheduled in the near future and the issue of military-technical cooperation will be on the agenda. Significantly, Mironov explained that Yemen had threat perception regarding groups affiliated to al-Qaeda, which might be hiding in the Somalia region. (The Soviet Union had a major naval base in the former South Yemen, which merged with North Yemen in 1990 to form the present-day Yemen.)

    In essence, Moscow has signaled to Washington (and Delhi and the other littoral states) that it, too, can play NATO's game and has the capacity and the will to fight a "war on terror" in the Indian Ocean.

    The point is, Somalia has no effective government and the claim by NATO (or India) to have received the permission/request from Mogadishu to undertake naval patrolling in that country's territorial waters is untenable, to say the least. It is also a grey area as to whether such patrolling in the high seas will be in accordance with international law. NATO has taken cover under the pretext that the deployment is in response to a request by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, but then, Ban never acts without an eye on what Washington desires.

    Clearly, Russia is establishing its toehold as a matter of principle, asserting that NATO and its "partners" in the region cannot arrogate to themselves the role of policemen in the Indian Ocean.

    there have been some bizarre, provocative stmts out of russia lately. on wednesday the russian ambassador to NATO, dmitry rogozin, called for coordinated attacks on land bases in somalia to eradicate the pirates.

    and this piece, from itar-tass (scroll down to last article, "One Must Play Rough With Somali Pirates – Expert")

    MOSCOW, November 21 (Itar-Tass) -- One has to be rough in order to stop unrestrained piracy offshore Somalia, President of the Middle East Studies Institute Yevgeny Satanovsky told Itar-Tass on Friday.

    "There is no other way to do that but destroy the entire infrastructure of the pirates. The war in Congo, the genocide in Rwanda and the drug trafficking in Afghanistan are illustrative examples of the kind," he said. "Police and military ships must not only seize weapons and let pirates go but also sink pirate cutters and execute bandits by war law."

    "There are several power models in the Middle and Near East: tough authoritarian regimes, less tough monarchies, radical Islamist regimes of the Somali Islamic Courts Union type or numerous field commanders and armed units," the expert said. "In case of Somalia, we are dealing with unrestrained actions of tribe chiefs and field commanders. These actions may eventually develop into a junta."

    "As globalization spurs on the development of technologies and machinery, a modern tribe is comparable with a commando unit and a village may pass for a fortified area. That started when our American colleagues decided to supply medieval-minded Afghan Mujahideen with modern weaponry and war craft. That decision had an extremely negative effect for the Americans. The lethal combination spread onto the whole world, including Somalia," he said.

    As for the Somali duty of the Russian patrol ship, the expert said, "Time will show whether one warship will be enough or a squad is needed and whether the Yemeni offer of the Socotra base should be accepted."

    "Russia has no base in that region now although the former Soviet Union had. France has a base in Djibouti, so it is capable of very successful operation in the Somali zone. Even Israel has strongholds in Eritrea. The commercial route that goes past Somalia is extremely dangerous. Hundreds of attacks occur there each year, and Russia must think about security of its ships if they have to take the route frequently," Satanovsky said.

    Posted by: b real | Nov 23, 2008 7:04:47 PM | 24

    b real, thank you for the SMH article @ 23. Black Agenda Report has a piece in a similar vein:

    Buccaneers In Somali Waters - But They're Not Somalis

    When it comes to piracy, Somalis are on balance the victims rather than the perpetrators. It is estimated that foreigners poach $300 million from Somali fisheries each year. Somalia's armed sailors extort about one-third that amount - $100 million - from the owners of captured ships. So, who are the real pirates?

    And re that Satanovsky @ your 24, wow, what is he, a Russian neocon?

    Posted by: Alamet | Nov 23, 2008 7:31:16 PM | 25

    a quick aside:

    what is he, a Russian neocon?

    heh. he's certainly something!

    from a 2003 article

    In what Russia watchers are citing as a first, one of the leaders of Russian Jewry has launched a diatribe against the European Union, claiming it is now a prime source of anti-Semitism threatening Jews in Russia today.

    Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Russian Jewish Congress, told The Jewish Week in an interview last week that the best hope of Russian Jewry — and of Russia itself — is to spurn Europe and to strengthen ties with the United States and Israel.
    ...
    A portly 44-year-old with a full red beard, sharp wit and keen intellectual sensibility who is always ready with a “big picture” geopolitical analyses of Russia and the world, Satanovsky was an underground Jewish activist during the Soviet era who went on to start a successful business during the early 1990s, which helped to fund many activities of the Va’ad, the first nationwide Jewish umbrella body.

    The founder of the Institute for Israeli and Middle-Eastern Studies in Moscow, Satanovsky has entrée to top media, business and governmental circles in the Russian capital, as well as to policy makers in Washington and Jerusalem.

    what a name - satanovsky

    Posted by: b real | Nov 24, 2008 12:05:57 AM | 26

    should've said hell of a name ;-)

    -- -- --

    daily nation: Regional force formed to fight piracy

    East African countries have assembled a 7,000-strong standby brigade to respond to piracy and other crises within the region.

    Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula said the East African Region Command Post Exercise, launched yesterday, was ready to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean and conflicts in the region whenever they arise.

    The force will be headed by the chairperson of the East Africa Chiefs of Defence and chief of Defence Forces, Union of Comoros, Brigadier-General Salimou Amiri and director of East Africa Standby Brigade (Eastbrig) Simon Mulongo.

    It will have a multinational headquarters manned by 65 personnel, a headquarters and signal support unit of 120 officers, multinational forces from all member states and civilian and police personnel.

    ...

    The minister appealed to the organisers to extend the unit’s mandate from peace-keeping to intervention whenever there is a flare-up in the region. [read: somalia]

    Mr Wetang’ula said the force would increase political and military cohesion among member states.

    Officers from 12 countries of the region are among the Command Post Exercise and have been training jointly.

    The mission will complement African Union forces and the United Nations peace-keeping missions in the region.

    funny that story didn't mention this visitor

    xinhua: U.S. to cooperate with Kenya in fighting rampant piracy off Somali coast

    The U.S. government said on Monday it will work with Kenya to fight rampant piracy which has rocked the coast of Somalia.

    Visiting Gen. William E. Ward, the commanding general of the U.S. Africa Command, discussed the issue of piracy in the Indian Ocean, which Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said threatens Kenya's security and international trade.

    Speaking during a courtesy call on Odinga in Nairobi, Odinga asked the U.S. to help Kenya beef up its capacity to monitor the Ocean and the Kenya-Somalia border.

    He said piracy is driving up the cost of insurance for goods being shipped into Kenya through the Ocean.

    The PM said piracy is also posing a new challenge to Kenya's judicial systems as those arrested are to be tried in Kenya, a development the country is not prepared for.

    Ward said the U.S. is aware that piracy in the Indian Ocean had military implications for Kenya. He said the formation of a single U.S. Africa Command had created coherence and the two countries would work more closely now than in the past.

    Ward said military support will remain part and parcel of the diplomatic ties between Kenya and the U.S.

    ...

    Ward acknowledged that Kenya is in "a tough neighborhood" and that the U.S. is concerned and is willing to help by boosting the capacity of the country's military through training and provision of equipment.

    and that article closes on a very strange note, strange advice for a commander of a unified combatant command to be giving to a PM

    Meanwhile, Ward asked Kenya to work seriously on having direct flights from Kenya to America if Kenya is to fully reap the benefits of President-elect Barack Obama's tenure.

    Ward told Odinga that direct flights from Nairobi to the U.S. will attract more tourists to the country than is the case today.

    some kind of coded msg?

    Posted by: b real | Nov 25, 2008 1:03:00 AM | 27

    reuters: No links between Somali pirates, al Qaeda: US

    "I do not have any evidence that the pirates have links with al Qaeda. We may speculate and think about it, but I personally do not have any evidence," [Africom commander General William] Ward told reporters.

    ...

    Hardline al Shabaab Islamists have pledged a crackdown on piracy. But the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, said that would not change Washington's view of the group.

    "I think this whole thing is sort of a red herring," he told the news conference.

    "I don't think there's any question about the terrorist nature of the organisation. So, to me, regardless of whatever they might do with respect to piracy, that doesn't erase that record. That's the fundamental issue here."

    i've mentioned it a couple of times previously, but CENTCOM still has responsibility for u.s. military activities in the waters off somalia, not AFRICOM.

    capital news (nairobi): Piracy worries US Africa command

    Gen Ward said his command was mainly involved in talks with other regional and individual member country forces to see how to enhance security in the maritime sector.

    He did not elaborate on the exact cause of action to be taken once the ‘high level talks’ are completed.

    “It will be a solution that will curb piracy in the affected parts of the Gulf of Aden and the Somalia coast,” he added.

    When put to task by journalists to explain why relevant forces including AFRICOM were taking too long to come up with a lasting solution on the piracy crisis, Gen Ward said there was no immediate option.

    “This is a problem that needs a coordinated approach. And for that kind of approach to be found, there must be a framework developed to deal with it. It is the framework that is being worked on,” he said.

    ...

    Gen Ward told reporters that his command would work with various forces including the Eastern Africa Standby Brigade (EASBRIG) which announced a day earlier that it planned to send troops to protect crucial trade routes in the Indian Ocean once fully operational.

    Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula who spoke on the sidelines of the force’s command-post launch in Nairobi on Monday, said EASBRIG would also send its troops to the lawless Somalia and other East African nations whenever need arose.

    Mr Wetangula singled out piracy and the instability in Somalia as the major problem facing member countries and assured that they could be tackled conclusively once the force starts its operations.

    “I am urging EASBRIG to include piracy in its operational framework because it is one of the major challenges we are facing. It will play a key role once it adapts maritime capabilities to protect trade routes against piracy,” he added.

    EASBRIG Commander Brig Gen Osman Nour Soubagale said the force was up to the challenge and would take up all the tasks once it is ready in 2010.

    east african standard: US to tip African armies on fighting terrorism

    The US military will train and support soldiers in Kenya and eight other African countries to fight terrorism.

    General William Kip Ward, who heads the US Africa Command (Africom), said yesterday the countries should team up to fight international crimes.

    ...

    "Terrorism is complicated. We are joining hands with African countries to bring the menace down," said the commander.

    He, however, said the US would not have troops to send to trouble spots in Africa.

    well, other than the public relations/photo opp disaster in somalia (playfully-named "operation restore hope"), u.s. policy has always been to avoid direct military intervention on the continent and, instead, rely on mercenaries and/or proxy armies consisting of whatever allies can be coaxed, cajoled, coerced, co-opted or corraled to protect u.s. interests. AFRICOM is banking that these "stand by" forces such as EASBRIG will be valuable assets in the new cold war & protecting u.s. energy security.

    Posted by: b real | Nov 25, 2008 11:58:52 PM | 28

    i find myself increasingly resorting to the words "bizarre" and "strange" as events unfold in somalia...

    not sure exactly how to interpret this one yet, but i'd assume the cia figures into it

    military.com: Somali Pirates Call on American Benefactor

    The pirates who captured the Saudi oil tanker Sirius Star have broken off negotiations with the ship's owners, apparently insisting they want to talk with a wealthy Virginia woman with close ties to the US military and intelligence communities.

    Michele Lynn Ballarin runs a small Virginia-based company, SelectArmor, that designs and makes body armor and provides executive protection to wealthy individuals. She has a long history of involvement in Somalia, including allegations by a respected publication -- Africa Confidential -- that she was helping plan military operations there in 2006.

    Military.com spoke with Ballarin for more than an hour Nov. 24 and she told us she has been in regular touch with the pirates by satellite phone -- the last contact was Monday at 5 p.m. Eastern Time -- and had just returned from Somalia Nov. 18.

    Ballarin said she is not only negotiating with the pirates holding that Saudi tanker, she is also in touch with the MV Faina, the Ukrainian ship loaded with grenade launchers, ammunition and 33 Russian-made T-72 tanks.

    "I'm in communication with both ships on a regular basis," she said.

    The Faina's captain helped the pirates drop a sign over the ship's side with the word "Amira" written on it, which refers to the the Arabic nickname for a female leader that Ballarin earned from the pirates. The crew of the Sirius draped a similar sign over the side of their ship.

    ...

    Ballarin said the involvement of the Somali Islamist group, Al Shabab, had helped turn the tide in her favor by putting the fear of death into the young pirates. She claimed the Islamist group had captured, tortured and killed a young male relative of one of the pirates in the last few days. This came after Al Shabab announced it opposed the taking of ships owned by Muslims and promised to behead those who did.

    Al Shabab "made it dead clear that any ransom that is collected they will take it; they will take away their money and kill them," Ballarin said.

    That has concentrated the minds of the pirates, according to Ballarin.

    "The most urgent requests I've had is they don't want to be offloaded in Somalia because they would be killed," she said, adding that negotiations are under way to find a country willing to take the pirates.

    ...

    To help encourage Somalis to patrol their own waters and discourage locals from turning piracy Ballarin has a plan to recruit 500 men and women to serve as a Somali coast guard operating out of Berbera, the country's major port. To fund it, she's talking with international aid agencies and encouraging members of the various governments running Somalia to tax the country's vibrant currency exchanges and some of its companies.

    All this might lead a reasonable person to wonder just why Ballarin is doing this and what she has to gain. Is she CIA or a cutaway since she does have former intelligence and military officials on the board of one of her other companies, Black Star, and is known to have excellent contacts among the intelligence community?

    First, Ballarin notes that she is trying to market a solution for failed states through Black Star. If she can demonstrate that it works in Somalia, which has not had a functioning unitary government in 19 years, she would have an excellent product to sell. She claims that she has spent all her own money on this five-year effort.

    And she has invested a great deal of her self in it.

    here's the sourcewatch entry on Select Armors' Alleged involvement in planned covert operations in Somalia


    Africa Confidential reported in September 2006 that the company had
    "...been planning military operations in support of President Abdullahi Yusuf's Transitional Federal Government in Somalia and raising questions about an attack on Mogadishu, according to documents obtained by Africa Confidential. The documents refer to Uganda's willingness to secure arms supplies using its own end-user certificates (in contravention of the UN arms embargo) and makes disparaging remarks about 'the fucks' in the United Nations who have been 'snooping around' Select Armor's personnel."

    The Observer also saw the leaked emails, and reported the contents of one sent on June 16, 2006 by chief executive Michele Ballarin:

    "Ballarin's email was sent to a number of individuals including Chris Farina of the Florida-based military company ATS Worldwide. Ballarin said: 'Boys: Successful meeting with President Abdullay Yussef [sic] and his chief staff personnel in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday ... where he invited us to his private hotel suite flacked by security detail ... He has appointed is chief of presidential protocol as our go to during this phase.'

    "She refers to one 'closed-door meeting' with a senior UN figure and mentions there are 'a number of Brit security firms' also looking to get involved. Ballarin claimed she has been given 'carte blanche' to use three bases in Somalia 'and the air access to reach them'. She then suggests that the CIA have been kept informed of the plans. Ballarin states: 'My contact whom we discussed from the agency side requested an in-person meeting with me. I arrived in New York at 2340 last night and was driven to Virginia - arriving at 0200 today.'"

    Africa Confidential gave some more details about the planning of the alleged operation:

  • "Select Armor claim to have briefed" Ugandan Minister of Security Amama Mbabazi and Intelligence Director Brigadier Noble Mayombo.
  • there's more at the link

    Posted by: b real | Nov 26, 2008 12:43:59 AM | 29

    this was from monday, but it contradicts the military.com story

    bbc: Pirate says Sirius Star crew safe

    One of the Somali pirates responsible for hijacking a Saudi oil tanker has told the BBC they have no intention of harming the 25 crew members on board.

    The man, calling himself Daybad, also said pirates had not negotiated with the Sirius Star's owners, but spoken to intermediaries who "cannot be trusted".

    ...

    Daybad spoke to the BBC Somali Service via telephone from the Sirius Star, which is being held off the Somali coast.

    ...

    Daybad said that "no company" had yet made contact with the pirates, only people claiming to be intermediaries.

    "These are people who cannot be trusted. We don't want to make contact with anyone who we can't trust," he said.

    "We captured the ship for ransom, of course, but we don't have anybody reliable to talk to directly about it."

    Daybad said that once genuine negotiations began they would seek "the usual asking price" but denied reports that they had been asking for a ransom of up to $25m (£16.6m).

    "That doesn't exist, there is nothing of the sort and we are warning radio stations and other people about broadcasting these unreliable stories," he said.

    Daybad said the pirates were fully aware of the consequences of their actions, but the lack of peace in Somalia and the plunder of its waters by foreign fishing trawlers had driven them to piracy.

    "Our fish were all eradicated so we can't fish now so we're going to fish whatever passes through our sea because we need to eat."

    and this was bound to happen

    cnn: Sunken 'pirate ship' was actually Thai trawler, owner says

    BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Fourteen sailors are still missing from a Thai trawler that was sunk last week by the Indian navy as a suspected pirate ship, the vessel's owner said Tuesday.

    One crewman was found alive after six days adrift in the Gulf of Aden, and one is confirmed dead, said Wicharn Sirichaiekawat, owner of the Ekawat Nava 5.

    Last week, India's navy reported that the frigate INS Tabar had battled a pirate "mother vessel" in the gulf November 18, leaving the ship ablaze and likely sunk. Wicharn said that vessel was his ship, which was in the process of being seized by pirates when it came under fire.

    ...

    Wicharn said the Ekawat Nava 5 was headed from Oman to Yemen to deliver fishing equipment when it was set upon by pirates off the Horn of Africa. The pirates were seizing control of the ship when the Tabar moved in, he said.

    Posted by: b real | Nov 26, 2008 1:54:08 AM | 30

    abc news picks up on the military.com propaganda story in #29

    U.S. Woman Negotiating With Somali Pirates

    An American businesswoman with connections to U.S. intelligence and the military has been talking with the Somali pirates who have commandeered the Saudi oil tanker Sirius Star, trying to get the ship released, ABC News has confirmed.

    First reported by Military.com, the pirates, who have halted all talks with the ship's owners, are talking to a woman named Michele Lynn Ballarin, instead.

    ...

    "Michele Ballarin has gone over there for five years on her own, built a network of clan and sub-clan leaders in every region of the country," Ross Newland, a business colleague of Ballarin's, told ABC News Wednesday.

    Ballarin, who has traveled to Somalia many times, returned just last week from a two-week trip to the troubled country, Newland said. Her travels coincided with the recent spate of pirate attacks off the Somali coast.

    her travels also coincided w/ the following report, from press tv on nov 19th, which alamet happened to flag at the time

    Mystery surrounds CIA Somalia trip

    Operatives from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have entered the Somali breakaway region of Puntland under a cloud of suspicion.

    The CIA agents arrived in the town of Bossaso on Wednesday and are holding meetings with Puntland's high-ranking officials, a Press TV correspondent reported.

    back to the abc rpt

    According to Newland, the American businesswoman is greeted like royalty in Somalia, adding that the Somalis like her because she identifies their needs and comes up with solutions so they can support themselves. She is reportedly known in Somalia as Amira, or "Princess" in Arabic.

    that part just sounds like bullshit woven from whole cloth. the military.com article even stated that

    The Faina's captain helped the pirates drop a sign over the ship's side with the word "Amira" written on it, which refers to the the Arabic nickname for a female leader that Ballarin earned from the pirates. The crew of the Sirius draped a similar sign over the side of their ship.

    this should be easy to confirm/refute - the faina has been under 24-hour observation by u.s. navy vessels for two months now.

    Posted by: b real | Nov 28, 2008 1:17:26 AM | 31

    just to note - posted an anon comment on the website of the abc news story in #31 above on the 27th, pointing out (1) the timing w/ the press tv rpt on cia operatives visiting in puntland, (2) the rpts by africa confidential & the observer on the emails from ballarin in 2006 making the connections to the agency, and (3) that it should be relatively straightforward for an authentic journalist to verify w/ the u.s. navy whether "the Faina's captain helped the pirates drop a sign over the ship's side with the word "Amira" written on it", since they have had the mv faina under constant surveillance for two months now

    verified that comment actually posted - was either comment #19 or 20. but now it has disappeared. censorship?

    Posted by: b real | Nov 28, 2008 4:22:26 PM | 32

    navy times: Pirate plan goes global with intel sharing

    Top Navy leaders are sharing highly classified intelligence and their new Maritime Domain Awareness system with close allies to more effectively combat a rising tide of piracy across the Horn of Africa, a senior Navy official said.

    The move comes as the U.S. and its allies grow concerned over the possibility of pirates forming ties with terrorist groups.

    ...

    Navy officials are worried that unless piracy is more effectively combated, pirates could begin cooperating with terrorist groups, posing a far greater global security danger.

    We’re concerned that the pirates and the terrorists will find each other and then the problem will explode,” the official said. “In Afghanistan, the drug traffickers have an entire infrastructure in place, from weapons to hiding places to means of transportation, that terrorists have found advantageous. We are concerned that the pirates are increasingly disciplined and well-funded, building an increasingly robust infrastructure that will be turned to other uses. We don’t want to see a symbiotic relationship between pirates and terrorists.”

    ...

    Despite international efforts, the piracy scourge off the lawless coast of Somalia isn’t likely to abate anytime soon, according to a panel of four experts convened Nov. 24 in Washington — in fact, they said, it’s likely to get worse.

    ...

    What would work off Somalia? [Panelist Martin] Murphy suggested the U.S. and its allies should treat pirates the way they treat international terrorist organizations, using surveillance and intelligence to find out as much as possible. Intelligence operatives and analysts have almost no reliable details about how the pirates operate, Murphy said, despite many ideas and theories.

    Also, it isn’t clear what happens to the money pirates bring in from seizures and ransoms; much of it is paid to attackers and in bribes to locals, but another large portion disappears. Once U.S. and allied commanders have solid information about who the pirates are and how they operate, he said, it’ll be clearer how to take apart their networks.

    this is going to get ugly. judging by press coverage over the past week, the groupthink meme is quickly shifting to GWOT in the indian ocean as 'experts' and such scare themselves silly over what seems to me to be an incomplete, uninformed, and biased paranoid speculation.

    Posted by: b real | Nov 29, 2008 2:21:44 AM | 33

    continuing to draw attention to the targeting of vessels that fit the profile of those involved in toxic waste dumping in the waters off the coast of somalia, another chemical tanker hijacked, and this one evidently wasted its money hiring a security guard service

    NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Somali pirates hijacked a chemical tanker with dozens of Indian crew members Friday and a helicopter rescued three security guards who had jumped into the sea, officials said.

    ...

    [IMB's Noel] Choong said the ship was being operated out of Singapore. The British Foreign Office said two of the three security guards who jumped into the sea were British and one was Irish.

    Still on board were 25 Indian and two Bangladeshi crew members, said diplomats who could not be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media. The security guards escaped by jumping into the water, said a news release issued by their company, Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions.

    The company said it was aware of the incident on the chemical tanker it identified as M/V BISCAGLIA.

    "We have been informed by coalition military authorities that three of our unarmed security staff were rescued from the water by a coalition helicopter and are currently on board a coalition warship in the Gulf of Aden," the company statement said.

    continuing

    Their decision to abandon the vessel that their company was paid handsomely to protect attracted some criticism. One Western aid official in the region told The Times that after calls for commercial vessels to hire security guards, it was “somewhat ironic that they jump overboard to save themselves”.

    Their British employer, however, insisted that the three former soldiers were heroes who had resisted a sustained attack by heavily armed pirates with great courage and would have been killed if they had stayed any longer. “They were unarmed. They had no other option. As far as I’m concerned they deserve a medal,” said Nick Davis, a former British Army pilot who runs AntiPiracy Maritime Security Solutions (APMSS) out of Poole, Dorset. Mr Davis said his guards were unarmed because it was almost impossible to carry firearms through Customs and on to vessels in most countries, and because ships with cargoes of chemicals or gas seldom allowed weapons on board. The ship concerned, the Liberian-flagged tanker the Biscaglia, was carrying a cargo of palm oil.

    ...

    APMSS provides three-man teams of former soldiers to protect commercial vessels and in recent weeks demand for its services has soared. It has teams on ten ships off Somalia – each costing £14,000 for three days.

    davis' account of why his men had to bail stretches credulity

    Posted by: b real | Nov 29, 2008 3:44:39 AM | 34

    Cut-price deal for pirates to free ship with tank cargo

    A CUT-PRICE deal has been reached for the release by Somali pirates of a Ukrainian ship, seized in the Gulf of Aden more than two months ago, carrying a controversial cargo of 33 Russian T-72 tanks.
    The arrangement to release the MV Faina and its 17-member crew came after protracted negotiations as the vessel, anchored off the Somali port of Hardhere, was surrounded by US Navy and other warships.

    ...

    "Negotiations have been finalised and all that remains are a few modalities before the release of the vessel, probably on Tuesday this week," said Andrew Mwangura, the programme co-ordinator of the Seafarers' Assistance Programme in the Kenyan port of Mombasa, who closely tracks the scores of pirate attacks in Somali waters.

    The big question is where the Faina and its crew will head for when they are freed.

    The vessel was due to dock in Mombasa, from where, said Mr Mwangura, the tanks were to be delivered to the Juba-based government of south Sudan, which, said analysts, would endanger a 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between north and south Sudan, which ended two decades of civil war in which two million people died.

    An embarrassed Kenyan government, one of the guarantors of the Sudan peace accord, initially arrested Mr Mwangura for "making alarming statements to foreign media touching on the security of the country". But he was released after the Kenyan authorities were unable to produce the end-user certificate that would prove their rightful ownership of the tanks.

    A spokesman for the United States Fifth Fleet, which is patrolling Somali waters, and the Khartoum-based Sudan Tribune newspaper both confirmed that the Faina's cargo of tanks and several thousand tonnes of other weaponry was destined for secret delivery to south Sudan. Kenyan military officials said that 100 T-72 tanks had already been transported through Kenya to south Sudan earlier this year.

    Following the discovery of the destination of the cargo, it seems most likely that the Faina will return to the Ukrainian port of Sebastopol with it undelivered.

    we shall see

    Posted by: b real | Dec 1, 2008 12:21:35 AM | 35

    Thanks again to b real for illuminating links and comments on the HOA. Also, congratulations on being censored by ABC: presumably their
    CIA (or DIA?) liason official recognizes a clear and present danger in your
    information.

    Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 1, 2008 1:37:53 AM | 36

    Islamist leader calls on pirates to free ships

    MOGADISHU (AFP) — Somalia's insurgent Islamist leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys on Tuesday urged pirates to release a giant Saudi oil tanker and other foreign vessels being held in Somali waters.

    "We are calling for the immediate release of all international vessels under the command of Somali pirates, who are undermining international peace and trade," Aweys told AFP from the Eritrean capital Asmara.

    ...

    Leader of an umbrella opposition group called the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, Aweys said the pirates would have been stamped out if Somalia were still under the control of his Islamist group.

    "We are the only force that could eliminate piracy in the Somalia waters but the world refused to give us the opportunity to rule Somalia, despite the will of the vast majority of the people of Somalia.

    "If we are given the opportunity to fight piracy and general lawlessness we can do that comfortably. Piracy is part of lawlessness and during our months of Islamic leadership pirates were underground," he said.

    ...

    The intervention of the influential cleric, designated a terrorist by Washington because of alleged ties to Al-Qaeda, is likely to bring some pressure to bear on the pirates, but he ruled out any direct mediation effort on the part of his organisation.

    ...

    Aweys equated the rampant piracy to the intervention of Ethiopian forces in his country.

    "It is so painful to see Somalia taken by Ethiopian colonial occupation and crazy pirates. Both are the same and undermine human value."

    it would be nice to see the complete, unfiltered conversations in these instances. for instance, did aweys make any references to the somali coast guard(s) and the problems w/ illegal fishing & dumping?

    what sort of policies were the courts considering to address those issues in 2006, as the revolution solidified? (granted the situation on the ground at that time, it was probably of lesser concern)

    Posted by: b real | Dec 2, 2008 3:03:04 PM | 37

    inner city press: UN Piracy Resolution Dodges Toxic Waste and Sinking of Wrong Ship, Somali TFG's Sphere to Shrink

    UNITED NATIONS, December 2 -- As the UN Security Council congratulated itself for Tuesday's resolution about Somali piracy, unresolved are the problems of the dumping of toxic waste on Somali shores, the sinking of a fishing ship and its crew in the name of fighting pirates, and the lack of popularity of the UN-based Transitional Federal Government as its Ethiopian backers threatened to leave at month's end.

    Even the UN's envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, has said the European Union must stop its ships from dumping on Somalia. But when Inner City Press asked Ambassador Ripert of France, which still holds the EU's presidency, about how toxic waste will be dealt with, he said he was not prepared for the question.

    When Inner City Press asked him about reports that the Indian navy's loudly proclaimed sinking of a pirate "mother ship" last month turned out to be a fishing ship, he said, You should ask the Indians. But the shooting was done under the cover of Security Council resolution.

    The U.S. representative, Rosemarie DiCarlo, came out of the Council and said the U.S. is working "bilaterally" to try to stabilize Somalia. Inner City Press asked if that meant speaking with the Ethiopians, since the U.S. armed them and gave them the green light to drive on Mogadishu back in December 2006. Video here. Apparently it does.

    from a reuters article today -- UN renews right to use force against Somalia pirates

    The U.S.-drafted resolution, adopted unanimously by the 15-nation council, extends for one year the right of countries with permission from Somalia's transitional government to enter Somali waters to pursue and attack pirates.

    "The international community is sending a very strong signal of its determination to deal with piracy," said French U.N. Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert.

    He told reporters it would enable the European Union to start an air and naval operation off Somalia on Dec. 8. The operation is expected to involve five to six ships at any given time, plus maritime surveillance aircraft.

    ...

    One unresolved issue is jurisdiction over captured pirates and where they can be prosecuted. U.S. envoy Rosemary DiCarlo told reporters Washington hoped more countries would use a 1988 convention against unlawful acts committed at sea to put captured pirates on trial.

    on that, inner city press reported that

    the UK Deputy Permanent Representative Karen Pierce took a more legal-minded approach, speaking about the right and responsibility of member states, parties to the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, to "accept delivery of persons responsible for or suspected of seizing or exercising control over a ship by force or there thereof."

    But when one suspects a person or ship of piracy, is that enough to fire and sink the vessel? Inner City Press asked Amb. Pierce what recourse the owner of a erroneously downed ship would have. She said she wasn't sure, nor about the applicability of the SUA Convention to the problems of toxic waste dumping.

    and then concludes

    News analysis: And so what exactly were these Council members congratulating themselves for, with this belated and repetitive resolution? South Africa's outgoing Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, asked as he entered the Council chamber about the resolution, groaned dismissively and told Inner City Press, they're never going to do anything for Somalia, haven't you understood that?

    indeed, the u.n. helped facilitate the 2006 invasion and then stood by as the occupying forces indiscriminately shelled civilian populations, looted, raped, trafficked arms, etc.

    Posted by: b real | Dec 3, 2008 12:25:53 AM | 38

    spiegel online tries to go into a bit more detail

    The Poor Fishermen of Somalia

    Firing shots at a luxury cruise ship, taking a super tanker hostage: the papers are full of Somalia's audacious pirates. But the local fishermen grab fewer headlines -- and have a stricken existence.

    The outcry, addressed to the United Nations and the international community, was loud and bitter. "Help us solve the problem," said professional fisherman Muhammed Hussein from the coastal city of Marka, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu. "What is happening here is economic terrorism."

    ...

    Trawlers from faraway places continue to ply the waters off the long coastline, ships from Japan and India, as well as Italy and Spain. The Spanish fishing cutter that pirates hijacked in May and the Thai trawler an Indian warship inadvertently sank in early November provided evidence of just how attractive the Somali fishing grounds are worldwide.

    And for good reason: The coast of Somalia has among the highest concentrations of fish in the world's oceans. Somali fishermen catch a wide variety of seafood -- from tuna to sardines, dorado to perch, shark to lobster -- in their nets. At the turn of the millennium, Somalia was home to about 30,000 professional fishermen, along with 60,000 occasional fishermen.

    ...

    Fishing was never a thriving business in Somalia. Somalis are not enthusiastic fish eaters, and the bulk of their catch was traditionally exported. But today there is little left of what was already a relatively small and unprofitable industry. Fish processing, especially for export, has ceased to exist. There is no reliable transportation and there are no longer any functioning refrigeration facilities in the country, nor are there any ships left that could dock in Mogadishu.

    Somali fishermen have another problem: toxic waste.

    ...

    In Mombasa, Kenya, pirate expert Andrew Mwangura complains "that toxic waste has been dumped in Somalia for a long time," and that the international community is looking on and "doing nothing about it," thereby giving the pirates "a convenient excuse to legitimize their actions."

    The words of UN Envoy Ould-Abdallah were confirmed only a few days later, when leaking containers of toxic waste were washed ashore in Harardhere, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Mogadishu. Animals in the area contracted unusual diseases, and coastal residents suffered coughing and vomiting attacks. The lack of scruples displayed by foreigners using Somali waters to dump their toxic waste is not all that surprising: proper waste disposal in Europe costs about 400 times as much as illegal dumping in Somalia.

    The extent of ocean dumping of toxic waste is just as poorly documented as the claims of adverse effects on fish populations off the coast. Speculation abounds, and yet there are no reliable studies from the last 20 years. The fact is, however, that Somali fishermen, for various reasons, have been catching fewer and fewer fish in their nets for years.

    While the fishermen complained quietly, the members of another profession -- the pirate trade -- have been quick to claim the plight of the fishermen as their own. The Somali pirates have repeatedly argued that they were forced into piracy by the demise of fishing and the practice of dumping toxic waste at sea. But the truth is that only a small fraction of traditional fishermen have switched to piracy.

    the article fails to provide enough proof to support that though. and i'd like to finally see some photo/video/GEOINT documentation that actually backs up the oft-reported claim that

    Bosaso, Eyl and Hobyo, which, until recently, were miserably poor fishing towns, are barely recognizable today. Small mansions are popping up by the dozen, new restaurants are opening their doors, giant weddings are all the rage and the imports of four-wheel-drive SUVs are booming.

    and, if the pirates == GWOT groupthink continues to advance, should we guess how long before some SIGINT reference to 'the big wedding' results in a targeted strike from one of warships offshore?

    Posted by: b real | Dec 4, 2008 12:11:56 PM | 39

    reuters: U.S. warship backs off as pirate talks continue

    MOGADISHU, Dec 4 (Reuters) - A U.S. destroyer tracking a hijacked Ukrainian cargo ship loaded with tanks has backed off and ransom talks look to be nearing a conclusion, a Somali official said on Thursday.

    ...

    Aweys Ali Said, chairman of Somalia's Galkayo town, said negotiations to free both ships were going well.

    "The pirates have regained hope of getting a ransom (for the Faina). Ukrainian and Somali men from abroad are involved in the bargaining," he told Reuters by telephone.

    "I'm sure America is also playing a role because the warship has moved some kms (miles) further away."


    Posted by: b real | Dec 4, 2008 12:26:33 PM | 40

    Call made for China navy to battle Somali pirates

    A Chinese general has called for the country's navy to join the fight against Somali pirates, saying the mission would boost China's international stature and give its sailors valuable experience in fighting open ocean combat operations far from their home ports.
    (snip)

    "Piracy doesn't just interfere in our country's navigational safety, it also impedes our development and interests," Major General Jin Yinan told state radio.

    "I think our navy should send ships to the Gulf of Aden to carry out anti-piracy duties," Jin said, according to a transcript of the interview posted Thursday on the Web site of the official China News Service. The date of the interview was not given.

    China's People's Liberation Army Navy has little experience operating at long-range, its primary mission being coastal patrol. However, the service is believed to have major ambitions, possibly including the eventual deployment of an aircraft carrier.

    Jin serves as vice research director at the military's National Defense University and is frequently quoted on issues concerning deployments overseas. China's military has strict rules about officers making public statements, and it is highly unlikely he would have given the interview without consent from the top brass.


    The dance macabre just wouldn't be complete without them...

    Posted by: Alamet | Dec 5, 2008 7:53:44 PM | 41

    re the east african standby brigade (EASBRIG) referenced in #'s 27 & 28 above, was just reading this

    It is one of five brigades that will form the Africa Standby Force, which is due to be fully deployable by 2010. Brigades for Southern and West Africa have reached readiness status, but progress remains slow for the Central and North Africa brigades.

    ...

    EASBRIG Commander Brig.-Gen. Osman Nour Soubagale said it was likely the force would be ready for deployment in 2010 in troubled Somali waters, where pirates have confronted more than 100 vessels since January and seized half of them.

    ...

    Lt. Col Jaw Kitiku (ret.) of the Nairobi-based Security Research Information Center, has spoken out about the “shame” of having to invite foreign forces to tackle crimes in Africa. The continent has the capacity to do the job itself if it combines its security forces, he said.

    ...

    The project is supported by the Global Peace Operations Initiative, a multilateral, five-year program led by the United States to train and equip 75,000 peacekeeping troops, most of them African, by 2010.

    which led me to look for more info on the global peace operations initiative, which took me to this april 2004 wapo article, Bush Plans Aid to Build Foreign Peace Forces, which states that

    The campaign, known as the Global Peace Operations Initiative, will be aimed largely at Africa by expanding the peacekeeping skills of African forces and encouraging international military exercises in the region, where U.S. officials said much of the need exists.

    But African forces developed under the program could be used in peace operations anywhere in the world, officials said.

    ...

    The initiative grows out of the frequent struggle by administration officials to recruit enough foreign forces for peacekeeping missions.

    ...

    The goal of Bush's initiative is to train about 75,000 additional foreign troops who could be deployed on short notice and perform a wide range of peacekeeping activities, including the most dangerous and demanding ones.

    after standup, immediately deploying EASBRIG forces into battle against 'pirates' obviously has nothing to do w/ PKO missions

    sounds more like reserve armies for empire's bidding

    Posted by: b real | Dec 6, 2008 2:08:44 AM | 42

    lloyd's list sorta gets it - though they don't understand the concept of a popular armed resistance

    New twist in Somalia tale

    The withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia looks like the end of the road for the ill-fated transitional federal government and its western-backed fight against Islamist militia. Africa specialists now believe that the decision by Addis Ababa to abandon its two-year campaign in neighbouring Somalia opens the way for an Islamist takeover. This latest sorry chapter in the 17-year tale of war and suffering in the Horn of Africa, however, holds out the only real solution yet to the piracy attacks that have plagued international trade and shipping in the Gulf of Aden.

    Although the piracy menace emanates from the semi-autonomous northern province of Puntland, an anticipated collapse of the interim government and takeover by Islamist factions in southern Somalia could pose difficulties for officials, warlords and criminals preying on shipping.

    Regional specialists point out that Islamist militia are openly hostile to piracy, and can be expected to forcibly stop areas under their control being used as bases for these attacks.

    ...

    An Islamic extremist victory in Somalia — the very end result the US and western powers did not want — may be the best hope for international shipping running the gauntlet through the Gulf of Aden.


    aidan hartley, who did a pretty good tv feature from inside somalia earlier this year, also engages in the fearmongering when it comes to who's waging the resistance, though he does make a couple of interesting remarks in What I learned from the Somalia pirates

    The real story is more bizarre. I know because I`ve met the pirates and spent 17 years covering Somalia. It`s a frightening business — earlier this year my vehicle convoy was blown up by a roadside bomb and three people died — but fascinating. The pirate gangs, it turns out, are organised by ex-fishermen who got very annoyed by the way international boats poached Somalia`s rich tuna-fishing grounds and dumped toxic waste along its ungoverned shores. In the early days they demanded poachers pay fines, but later they realised there was more money to be made from straightforward abductions.

    Most rank-and-file pirates cannot even swim. Their only required skill is to shoot straight. These youths usually participate only in a couple of operations, hoping to make enough money to get asylum in the West. For example, if a young pirate makes around £20,000 — his cut from two ransom pay-outs — he can persuade an ethnic Somali wife with a European Union passport to marry him and perhaps move to the United Kingdom. Staying in Somalia is not an option. Imams at the mosques have declared piracy haram, forbidden under Islamic law. If the pirates want to buy goodies for themselves such as cell phones or cars, they find themselves being charged four times the going price.

    Behind the pirates are godfathers and investors from clans closely related to Somalia`s Western-backed president in Mogadishu, Abdullahi Yusuf.

    ...

    Estimates are that at least six ministers in the Puntland government, which is allied to Yusuf, are involved with the pirates — together with two former police chiefs and sundry mayors.

    no documentation, of course. as for this bit

    in recent months I have heard repeated allegations that US Navy ships have enjoyed friendly relations with pirates off Puntland.

    In one story, pirates were invited aboard a US Navy ship for a cup of coffee and a smoke, while the Americans showed gang members national flags of ships that should be left alone.

    This all seems extremely odd unless American forces assume that the pirates are in some way linked to the Puntland authorities with whom they are allied. US intelligence works closely with the Puntland Intelligence Service, known as PIS, which has helped with anti-terrorism operations in the region. Last month al-Shabaab suicide bombers blew themselves up in two vehicles in Puntland`s main port town of Bossaso.

    Their target was the PIS headquarters and at the time of the attack there were almost certainly American agents in the building.

    still haven't seen any reporting that clears up exactly who was responsible for those suicide attacks

    and, last item tonite

    Arab League says willing to take part in multinational force to Somalia

    December 5, 2007 (CAIRO) — The Arab League called today to deploy an international force in Somalia and expressed its readiness to take part in this multinational mission to fight increasing piracy in Somali shores and to help to establish a national government.

    ...

    Saudi Arabia has signalled its readiness to cooperate with the European nations already patrolling the Gulf of Aden.

    Saudi Arabia and Egypt have significant naval forces with 18,000 to 20,000 personnel each though they have never really been tested in combat. Other Arab countries in the region have smaller and less experienced forces.

    Posted by: b real | Dec 6, 2008 3:18:48 AM | 43

    one more post, showcasing convoluted logic & dangerous thinking from

    Beijing Zhongguo Qingnian Bao Online in Chinese -- Website of the daily newspaper sponsored by the Communist Youth League of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee

    though i have a difficult time believing that it's not actually penned by a u.s. agent

    Global War on Terror Shifts Focus from Land to Sea

    Piracy has existed since ancient times, its history going further back than that of its archrival, the navy. In other words, one of the major responsibilities of all navies, old and modern, Chinese and foreign, is to combat piracy. Nevertheless, piracy has not disappeared just because there are powerful navies. Instead it has developed and become stronger over time. When Zheng He embarked on his voyages to the Western Seas 600 years ago, the 10th parallel north was the golden route in international shipping. Six hundred years later, that has not changed. Six hundred years ago, the Chinese navy battled piracy in the Strait of Malacca, the Bay of Bengal, and the Gulf of Aden. Today, these three places remain the hot spots for global piracy.

    The Somali pirates of today are most politically astute. They combine traditional piracy with terrorism and are more dangerous than pirates elsewhere. Some people argue that the Somali pirates are interested only in ransoms and have no political motives, noting that they treat the hostages favorably. Images released by the pirates show the pirates eating meals with the hostages and even setting up shop specifically for the hostages. In fact, the pirates are playing the terrorism card with a touch of "moderation." The effect on the US military and the mass media of images showing captured Ukrainian and Russian sailors being lined up is every bit as powerful as the "black widow" wearing explosive-laden belts who blew themselves up at theaters in Moscow. The pirates` method of operation may be different from that of al-Qai`da, but in essence they are similar.

    ...

    In terms of the danger they pose to the world, the Somali pirates, like al-Qa`ida, have gone far beyond just committing a criminal offense. In fact they are an up and coming maritime al-Qa`ida. If we fail to firmly contain them with military means, they will certainly gain strength rapidly and their methods of operation will also be copied in other coastal waters around the world, thus creating a chain linking other hot spots for piracy around the globe, such as the Strait of Malacca, the Gulf of Guinea, and the Gulf of Aden, and posing a grim challenge to international shipping.

    At a time when the land-based global war on terrorism is making substantial headway, pirate terrorism represented by the Somali pirates is rising at sea. This suggests a shift in the focus of international counterterrorism.

    ...

    The Somali pirates of today are a maritime military organization boasting formidable high technology. No longer do they fit the traditional image of a pirate, who waves a pirate flag featuring a skull and crossbones and has a sword strapped to his waist. Instead, they wear camouflage garb and their ships are fitted with GPS and satellite communications equipment. They carry AK-47`s, rocket launchers, and hand grenades. In the past, the pirates` ringleader yelling out his orders constituted a command system. Now they are organized like an army complete with commanding officers and deputy commanding officers. There are engineers, ground support unit, and a press spokesman. You can say they are like a quasi navy.

    ...

    Using the US navy to battle the pirates has a fatal flaw similar to taking a sledgehammer to kill a fly. When a tiger is confronted with a pack of wolves, it has a hard time fending for itself. Judging from the case of the pirate ship PK cruiser, what we need to deal with the pirates, who are guerrillas at sea, is a large fleet of speedy and agile patrol boats and stealth submarines.

    ...

    Analyses show that Somali pirates are igniting a new global maritime security crisis.

    First of all, the ranks of the pirates are increasing rapidly. Having netted an immense amount of money, not only are the pirates able to recruit more people to join their ranks, but they will also furnish a model for international terrorist organizations, crime syndicates, and smuggling groups. They have a chain effect on the security in the Gulf of Guinea and the Strait of Malacca.

    Secondly, the pirates very likely will get their hands on anti-vessel guided missiles and small submarines either from the ammunition ships they have hijacked or on the black market, which will aid their attempt to control critical maritime passageways in the world. At a time when naval vessels today are still unable to distinguish between civilian vessels and pirate ships from 200 nautical miles away, pirates may attack naval ships with remote-sensing guided missiles. Or pirate submarines may hijack naval ships. The navies of the world are up against a daunting challenge.

    Global security is at stake.

    the piece goes on to praise the u.n. (this is supposed to be from china?) and then really talks up the u.s. idea of the 'thousand ship navy'

    Today, it is necessary for navies all over the globe to act together in an organized manner within the UN framework and build a maritime great wall to repress piracy and other illegal maritime activities.

    ...

    It is an unprecedented historic opportunity for the navies of the various countries.

    ...

    We can readily imagine the first great gathering at sea of the navies of the world next month. It will be the opening act for the summit meeting of the world`s navies will may possibly usher in a major turning point in the naval history of the world.

    well...

    and another crazy, convoluted piracy == terrorism piece in friday's nyt op-eds
    Piracy Is Terrorism

    Are the Somali pirates ordinary criminals, or a quasi-military force?

    The question is not insignificant. It has virtually paralyzed the navies called to police the Gulf of Aden. The German Navy frigate Emden, on patrol this spring to intercept Qaeda vessels off the Somali coast, encountered pirate vessels attacking a Japanese tanker. But since it was allowed to intervene only if the pirates were defined as “terrorists,” the Emden had no choice but to let the pirates go. Currently, 13 vessels are held by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, while the navies of a dozen nations circle almost helplessly.

    ...

    The solution to piracy lies in the very nature of piracy itself. The Roman lawmaker Cicero defined piracy as a crime against civilization itself, which English jurist Edward Coke famously rephrased as “hostis humani generis” — enemies of the human race. As such, they were enemies not of one state but of all states, and correspondingly all states shared in the burden of capturing them.

    From this precept came the doctrine of universal jurisdiction, meaning that pirates — unlike any other criminals — could be captured wherever they were found, by anyone who found them. This recognition of piracy’s unique threat was the cornerstone of international law for more than 2,000 years.

    Though you wouldn’t guess it from the current situation, the law is surprisingly clear. The definition of pirates as enemies of the human race is reaffirmed in British and American trial law and in numerous treaties.

    As a customary international law (albeit one that has fallen out of use since the decline of traditional piracy) it cuts through the Gordian knot of individual states’ engagement rules. Pirates are not ordinary criminals. They are not enemy combatants. They are a hybrid, recognized as such for thousands of years, and can be seized at will by anyone, at any time, anywhere they are found.

    And what of the Emden’s problem? Are pirates a species of terrorist? In short, yes. The same definition of pirates as hostis humani generis could also be applied to international organized terrorism. Both crimes involve bands of brigands that divorce themselves from their nation-states and form extraterritorial enclaves; both aim at civilians; both involve acts of homicide and destruction, as the United Nations Convention on the High Seas stipulates, “for private ends.”

    For this reason, it seems sensible that the United States and the international community adopt a new, shared legal definition that would recognize the link between piracy and terrorism.

    Posted by: b real | Dec 6, 2008 3:49:26 AM | 44

    Not news per se, but a rare glimpse of the regional perspective:

    Columnists/Analysts openly accuse Israel of sponsoring piracy off Somali waters with aim to "transform Red Sea into a Jewish lake".

    Posted by: Alamet | Dec 6, 2008 5:41:37 PM | 45

    I doubt these are Somalis but who knows: Pirates strike 450 miles east of Tanzania

    Somali pirates continue to extend their range of operations.

    AFP and other agencies report the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Center as saying that on Saturday pirates attacked a Dutch operated, Hong Kong flag containership when it was 450 nautical miles east of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and 350 nautical miles west of the Seychelles.

    The ship reported seeing eight pirates in two speed boats who fired semi-automatic weapons and an RPG launcher, causing a fire to break out on the containership.

    The ship, with a crew of 19 on board, took evasive action and managed to escape the pirates.

    Posted by: b | Dec 8, 2008 11:48:16 AM | 46

    the u.s. drafted the u.n. resolution that "enable[d] the European Union to start an air and naval operation off Somalia on Dec. 8" (see #38) so now it's the EU working on building the 'thousand ship navy'
    EU Urges World’s Navies to Join Anti-Piracy Fleet

    Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union is urging nations from outside the bloc to join the EU’s anti-piracy naval force off Somalia, the fleet’s commander said.

    “We are in talks with countries that want to contribute that have the potential to double the size of the force,” Admiral Philip Jones said today at a news conference in Brussels.

    The EU yesterday formally approved Operation Atalanta, the 27-member organization’s first naval mission.

    ...

    The negotiations on joining Atalanta include Asian, Middle Eastern, African and non-EU nations in Europe, Jones said. Japan was specified by Jones as being in the talks, while Norway, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have said they may send ships.

    ...

    Indian and Russian naval patrols in the area are unlikely to join the mission, though they will coordinate their activities with the EU fleet, Jones said. “They have different mandates,” he said.

    Jones, 48, a rear admiral in the U.K.’s Royal Navy, will command the operation from Northwood, near London, while the ships and planes will use the French facilities in Djibouti as their base.
    ...

    The EU will not operate on Somali soil, he said.

    here's the google satellite view of the french base (the u.s. CJTF-HOA is south of the runway). the port is to the north.

    Posted by: b real | Dec 9, 2008 2:40:33 PM | 47

    article on mwangura's level-headed approach to piracy @ the nairobi conference

    Dialogue, not military might, solution to Somali piracy

    Piracy in Somalia cannot be defeated by military means alone, and dialogue with pirates is needed to address the root causes of the problem, a Kenyan maritime official said Wednesday as an international conference on piracy got under way.

    "Piracy can't be solved by a military solution," Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenyan branch of the East African Seafarers' Association, told journalists in Nairobi. "We need to go back to the origin. Don't call them criminals ... let's have dialogue, sit down and talk."

    Representatives of the UN and foreign governments are attending a two-day conference aimed at combating a huge jump in piracy this year, but Mwangura said without the involvement of local communities in Somalia the efforts were doomed to failure.

    "If you are not going to invite the local community, it is not going to work," he said. "We need to come up with a regional piracy information centre, security in Somalia and a regional action plan on illegal fishing and toxic dumping."

    Fishermen began targeting ships in the early 90s, saying they were defending their coastline from illegal fishing and boats dumping toxic waste in Somali waters.

    Mwangura said that companies were still dumping industrial waste off the coast of Somali, although he could not give concrete figures on the scale of the problem.

    However, he said that illegal fishing was worth 96 million dollars a year - money that could go into the hands of poor Somali communities to cut the motivation for piracy.

    ...

    "It is clear that the problem of piracy is linked to the need for peace and stability in Somalia itself," he said. "We hope that this high-level conference will lead to greater international attention and cooperation between countries, regional and international organizations."

    ...

    Many of the pirates are young men looking to make a quick buck, but Mwangura said the real pirates were criminals who mastermind operations from locations such as Nairobi and Dubai.

    ...

    ..Mwangura said he believed the pirates were able to avoid navy patrols and target ships that could deliver juicy ransoms by using automatic identification system (AIS) technology, a system used by ships and vessel traffic services to track and identify ships.

    "We think they are using AIS to monitor ships ... they can find out if the owner is rich or poor, find out what the ship is carrying and the nationality of the crew," he said. "They don't go out blindly."

    With dozens of warships now patrolling the relatively narrow Gulf of Aden, pirates are taking their motherships, from which they launch attacks in speedboats, further out to sea.

    While Mwangura said this means pirates now can seize fewer ships, he said that naval patrols were never going to solve the problem completely.

    "The warships are doing something, but it is only a short-term solution," he said.

    Posted by: b real | Dec 10, 2008 11:19:37 AM | 48

    reuters: US wants pursuit of pirates inside Somalia

    UNITED NATIONS, Dec 10 (Reuters) - The United States wants U.N. authority for countries pursuing pirates off the coast of Somalia to hunt them down on land, according to a draft resolution circulated at the United Nations on Wednesday.

    U.N. diplomats said the U.S. delegation had drafted the text, which it hoped would form the basis of a resolution for the Security Council to approve next week, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be at the world body for talks on African and Middle East issues.

    ...

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who will both be in New York on Monday, may also attend the Somalia talks, which are scheduled for Tuesday, diplomats said.

    "There is complete council solidarity and consensus on the importance of dealing with the piracy problem and thwarting it, and dealing with it with every tool at our disposal," said U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Alejandro Wolff.

    "Clearly this implies both at sea and, if needed, with the consent of the Somalis, on land," he told reporters.

    The resolution, a draft of which was seen by Reuters, says countries with permission from Somalia's government "may take all necessary measures ashore in Somalia, including in its airspace" to capture those using Somali territory for piracy.

    It was not clear what form that Somali consent would take.

    ...

    It was also not clear what kind of force would be permitted for countries in "hot pursuit" of pirates that decide to bring the chase onto dry land. It was also unclear if the U.S. military would participate.

    Posted by: b real | Dec 10, 2008 11:15:29 PM | 49

    the AP coverage on that resolution draft, US leads UN push to hunt, punish Somali pirates, adds

    It proposes that for a year, nations "may take all necessary measures ashore in Somalia, including in its airspace, to interdict those who are using Somali territory to plan, facilitate or undertake acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea and to otherwise prevent those activities."

    The draft also says Somalia's government — whose president wrote the U.N. twice this month already seeking help — suffers from a "lack of capacity, domestic legislation, and clarity about how to dispose of pirates after their capture."

    The resolution is aimed at taking measures to stabilize the long-violent and lawless Somalia, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about it on the record. Though a number of countries have sent naval forces and taken other steps to stop the piracy, the efforts have been considered "very uncoordinated' so far, a second U.S. official also said privately.

    ...

    ..now the U.S. believes the fight must go ashore.

    ...

    The push for a broader international accord on how to suppress piracy in waters off Somalia's lawless coast is one of President George W. Bush's final foreign policy initiatives, officials say.

    Without committing more U.S. Navy ships, the administration wants to tap into what officials see as a growing enthusiasm in Europe and elsewhere for more effective coordinated action against the Somali pirates. Administration officials view the current effort as lacking coherence, as pirates score more and bigger shipping prizes.

    Spearheading the administration's case, Rice intends to make a pitch at the U.N.'s anti-piracy meeting in New York on Tuesday with her counterparts from a number of nations with a stake in solving the problem.

    "I expect in the coming weeks we will work within the U.N. to give the international system better policy tools to more effectively address the problem and its root causes," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

    That includes pressing for an international peacekeeping force in Somalia to replace the Ethiopian-led force that is to depart soon, he said. The pirates are Somalis based in camps near coastal port villages. The U.S. says they have links to an Islamic extremist group that has taken control of much of the country.

    wait - don't tell me - they both comprised of non-white, non-christian males! unfortunately, it's not a joking matter. the pirates == al shabaab nonsense will get spread even further now only b/c 'objective' editors will paste in whatever "the u.s. says"

    Posted by: b real | Dec 11, 2008 12:26:18 AM | 50

    a note for those following this thread, additional postings on this topic continue in the more-current behind 'fighting piracy' thread

    Posted by: b real | Dec 12, 2008 12:49:03 AM | 51

    in #39 i wrote, in reference to media stories of an increase in the number of "giant weddings" in bosaso, eyl and hobyo or other communities reportedly benefiting from piracy

    if the pirates == GWOT groupthink continues to advance, should we guess how long before some SIGINT [software flagging of multiple] references to 'the big wedding' results in a targeted strike from one of warships offshore?

    can't rule out UAVs or helicopters either

    army times: New missions seen for Army UAVs in 2009

    The Army will dispatch UAVs to new missions in 2009, including new counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts in Africa and South America and stepped-up initiatives in Afghanistan, service UAV managers said.

    ...

    the Army plans to extend efforts to link UAVs, ground controllers and helicopters. Using a common UAV control protocol and a software system called Tactical Common Data Link, the Army can increasingly move information between UAVs, UAV operators and nearby helicopters.

    “I think you are going to see a variety of new capabilities exploited. You can link manned sensors and manned attack sensors up with unmanned platforms. With that construct comes the ability for interoperability,” Owings said.

    “We will increasingly be able to take software models from a Shadow [UAV] and reuse those capabilities” with Army Black Hawk and Kiowa helicopters, he said.

    a scenario, as i understand it: some machine translation software picks up conversations including a phrase programmed as suspect coded language -- in this case, "the big wedding" -- and the coordinates become a target for suspect activity. then any human review, lacking any real intel or even knowledge of who they're monitoring, says 'better not risk it - they gotta be guilty of something - they're terrorist pirates, right?' - approves the go-ahead & either calls in the target or schedules it as one using the date & time info contained in the communications, and eventually all hellfire breaks loose, crashing another wedding party

    Posted by: b real | Dec 16, 2008 12:11:55 AM | 52

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