Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 03, 2009

Africa Comments (1)

On the left side of the homepage is a new category box titled 'b real's Africa Comments'. b real posts lots and lots of Africa news items in the comments here, mostly on the countries around the Horn. One can not find such a collection elsewhere and his work deserves a permanent link from the homepage.

There will be a new thread for Africa Comments when the older one has 50 or so comments. The newest one will always be the top one linked in that category box. Of course everyone is welcome to add relevant thoughts, news or cheers for b real in those threads.

So what are all these navies really doing around the Horn of Africa? We are told they are there to protect against piracy. Somali fishermen tell a very different story.

From b real's latest item in the older thread.

SOMALIA: Getting tough on foreign vessels to save local fishermen

NAIROBI, 2 April 2009 (IRIN) - Somalia has revoked fishing licences for foreign vessels and is planning a new law to regulate fishing in its waters, a minister told IRIN on 2 April.
...
Abdullahi Sheikh Hassan, head of a fishing cooperative in the southern coastal town of Merka, told IRIN that livelihoods were being destroyed. "Fishing is the only thing we know and without it we have nothing," he said, adding that lack of support, combined with the foreign fishing vessels, was ruining fishing communities.
...
Reports of crews of foreign-owned ships harassing and intimidating local fishermen had been made by Somali fishermen.

"They are not only taking our fish, but they are also stopping us from fishing," said Mohamed Abdirahman, a fisherman in Brava, 200km south of Mogadishu. "They have rammed boats and cut nets.” He said a number of Somali fishermen were missing and presumed dead after encounters “with these big ships”.

Abdirahman said the number of foreign ships in the south had increased after they were chased from the north by pirates. He said the foreign ships were now being protected by the navies of their countries and “do whatever they want to us”.

Local fishermen go out late at night to set their nets, but discover in the morning that they have been cut or stolen. "They are no longer satisfied to take our fish, but they are forcing us to abandon fishing altogether," he said. He claimed some of the foreign navies were treating Somali fishermen as if they were pirates and had occasionally opened fire on Somali fishing boats.

"We are forced to avoid going far and stay within sight of towns to avoid them and this means our catches are much smaller," Abdirahman said. "We are being driven out of business by foreign vessels protected by their navies. Who is protecting us? Our existence depends on the fish." He said the international community was only "talking about the piracy problem in Somalia, but not about the destruction of our coast and our lives by these foreign ships".

Posted by b on April 3, 2009 at 02:00 PM | Permalink

Comments

Thanks b for doing this. And thanks again to b real for his excellent efforts in collecting and distilling all this much needed information.

Posted by: biklett | Apr 3, 2009 2:43:48 PM | 1

Great stuff guys. you are all awesome for providing us with all these info.

Posted by: Anthony | Apr 3, 2009 2:51:07 PM | 2

i totally agree, plus it will be much easier to find the links. if i had a dollar for everytime i went dumpster diving thru the OT files to find one of b reals links ..this will make it much easier. a great resource, thanks.

Posted by: annie | Apr 3, 2009 6:28:08 PM | 3

yes b


it is a great idea - simple but clear

i have no right to be greedy but i'd really like to see b focus again on what is happening in georgia & ukraine

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 3, 2009 7:27:35 PM | 4

Likewise, b - thanks for this great innovation to your already great blog. And thanks again to b real for all the news, info and reporting - I don't comment often, but I find your posts incredibly valuable. Depressing too. So little of it being reported elsewhere.

Posted by: Maxcrat | Apr 3, 2009 8:57:35 PM | 5


another great moment on MOA. Africa, Georgia & the Ukraine, Albert Camus would be proud of this board.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Apr 3, 2009 9:51:31 PM | 6


another great moment on MOA. Africa, Georgia & the Ukraine, Albert Camus would be proud of this board.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Apr 3, 2009 9:51:32 PM | 7

jbcool

i was simply suggesting that the breadth of knowledge that b real shares is so rich - b also works the area too - i am just reminded here of the specificity some posters offer here - b's work on russia, georgia - the whole eastern european situation offers a view & information that you do not find anywhere else

i think it should be a source of pride to ur community that as b real offers many leads - so too b led - i mean led not only on the situation in georgia but much else - i feel guilty at times here that i have not been able to offer the same specificity as a considerable number of our posters

i celebrate the knowledge that is shared here - it is not book worship but an informed but instinctive approach that has shown the hollow nature of journalism

as the poor theatre of jerzy grotowski revealed the utter hollowness of bourgeois theatre - so too a site like moa reveals the utter shit that passes for information not only in the mass media but in so call specialist sites who rightly ought to be ashamed of themselves but instead drown us in their ignorance & prejudice

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 3, 2009 10:45:44 PM | 8

We uzed to have massive catches of big fat shrimp so juicy we barbied them on the back deck in boat tie-ups at the end of the day, until the big catcher processors showed up and within just a few years, you could drag any of the old rockpiles and get hung up on their nets, get maybe only the purse half full of trash fish, they were all gone, the spots, the coons, just tiny pinks as small as your thumb nail. So we switched to gilling, we used to have massive catches of herring, the water as far as you could see milky white with the milt and fish scales, schools the size of football fields swimming under the boat, saw boats sunk their nets were so full, until the big seiners showed up with their fast shallow-bottom jimmy's and spotter planes and scooped everything up quick. So we switched to long line but huge bottom trawlers took us out before we'd even started, sometime cutting the groundline in two or three places, so you lost all your gear in the middle and they just laughed. So we switched to pot fishing and that was good for awhile, got to see pots so full of crab we had to pry them out, one winter we loaded up on the Bering, but then the big 300-pot fleets come up from Seattle and fished everything out, all we got was octopus and sand fleas in our gear, a time or two a pot stuffed with garbage and welded shut by the mikc fukcers. The Fed fisheries head guy asked me one day hey, how'z the crab fishing going out west, like he was my friend, an' I told him the free-for-all had played out with the Zodiacs and we was all scratching for hair crab to make our boat payments. He kinda got a shocked look on his face, and ran back to the cop shop, but they never did put on any limits, fukcin' fish cops, so many State and Fed biologists up your ass but they wouldn't protect the fisheries, until the shrimp was all gone, the herring was all gone, the salmon was all gone, the cod and ground fish was all gone and the crab was all gone. All gone. I bet he's still got his fat job and his desk and his fat pension, but we lost everyting. Same everywhere that's sold their fishing rights to the rapist foreign fleets for fat kickbacks to the fat-cat bastards running the Capitol, their fancy cars and kids going off to Harvard, scratching their balls while we scratch and nothing but Spam and Ramen noodles and Coke to eat, all the tuna and mahi that used to run in schools, all the wahoo, the parrot fish, gone long time. Long time. Then here's the Feds and State lettin' the sardine factory fleets scoop up our forage fish feeds the salmon and sell them off to Australia to fatten the blue fin for Japan! So we got no more salmon mow 'cause they got nothing to eat by candlefish and krill, 'n they closed the salmon season and blames it on us fisherman, god dam them to hell, their hatcheries are pushing out the native salmon, so full of disease, but Feds say hey built more hatcheries, an' the joke's all the native salmon wuz wiped out by the irrigators back when the land was stole from the natives, they repopulated from hatchery stock, but the State biologists gotta claim its all native endangered sooz they keep their jobs! Everyting so fukced up now, you can't shit but go blind.

Posted by: Barnacle Bill | Apr 3, 2009 11:33:27 PM | 9

thanks b for kicking this off. apologies for not being able to deliver actual thread top-posts at this time. and thanks all for the interest & encouraging words. don't hesitate to contribute to these threads.

- - -

a couple of excerpts from ecoterra international's april 2nd somali marine & coastal monitor (SMCM) update

re IUU's being protected by the int'l flotillas off the coast of somalia

The coastguard of Puntland has arrested two illegal fishing vessels. Reports speak of one Korean and one Japanese tuna vessels.

The Spanish associations of fishing vessels that target tuna in the Indian Ocean are demanding that the European bloc extend its anti-piracy operations and control zone to the south-east of Somalia for added fleet protection.

Problem is only that Spain does not respect the Somali EEZ, Spanish owned vessels have been poaching in Somali waters for years, and that many Spanish owned vessels (around 200) operate under a flag of convenience, which Spain feels not responsible to discipline.

According to the Spanish Fishing Confederation (CEPESCA), the 50 European tuna fishing vessels are taking refuge in the Mozambique channel under threat of pirate attacks, which have shifted south to areas that include Seychelles´ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In light of the new situation, CEPESCA Secretary General Javier Garat has asked the Secretary of State for the European Union (EU), Diego Lopez Garrido, to shift the operational range of the Atalanta Operation to the south and east of Somalia, in order to protect the tuna fishing fleet besieged by pirates, who have rerouted to the south-east.

Leaders from the National Association of Freezer Tuna Vessel Owners (ANABAC) and the Big Frozen Tuna Vessels Producers Association (OPAGAC) have also sent written requests to the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs for the establishment of a secondary Atalanta Operation command centre in Mahe, Seychelles, or Mombassa, Kenya, that would bolster protection of tuna fishing vessels from Spain and the EU that operate off southern Somalia.

OPAGAC managing director Julio Moron [!!!] backed Spain´s request for the modification of protection coverage offered by the Atalanta Operation, which was launched by the EU to keep up defense maneuvers of merchant ships that cross the Gulf of Aden against pirate attacks.

"[The EU fishing fleet] is now neglected, after the displacement of the pirates to the very zone where they operate", affirmed CEPESCA in a press release.

Meanwhile, ANABAC managing director Jose Angel Angulo emphasized that the situation for vessels has worsened in the last few weeks. Pirates followed them to the south of the equator, in the EEZ of the Seychelles, next to the Comoros Islands and in front of the coast of Kenya and Tanzania, to more than 500 nautical miles (1,000 kilometers) off the Somali coast, he explained.

The Community tuna fishing fleet – now totaling about 50 vessels – has been cut by 20 per cent over the last two years due to the threat of piracy.

...

Unsustainable exploitation of marine resources in Africa´s oceans is occurring on a massive scale, causing the collapse of fisheries, the loss of critical ecosystems and the extinction of marine wildlife. A large part of the problem is unreported and illegal fishing by foreign fishing companies. It has been estimated that the market value of fish caught illegally in Africa by commercial fishing companies could be as much as $1 billion every year. Due to this gross over fishing, small scale fishing is under sever strain. The economic and social consequences for coastal communities is a major concern throughout the continent.

in the previous thread i pulled a quote from time of andrew mwangura saying that the pirate gangs were moving south on account of the increased force projection in the area. i'm guessing that time selectively quoted him on why the shift to the south is taking place. my guess would be that the answer also lies in where the tuna are at this time of year. or at least the tuna fleets.

back to puntland, on land, and recent news on the CIA & the PIS & renditions

18 members of the US-financed and masterminded Puntland Intelligence Service (PIS), established as a rather independent security outfit during the reign of former Puntland President Adde Musse, who holds a Canadian passport, were seriously injured by attacking al-Shabab fighters at Lanta Hawada in the separated north-eastern Somali region. Local witnesses reported that a US-helicopter made two flights to evacuate the wounded officers and also took one wounded al-Shabab fighter. The PIS had recently arrested over 15 foreign insurgents from Syria, Irak and other Muslim countries operating with al-Shabab. Allegedly, the captured foreigners had been handed over to US forces and their whereabouts are unknown. Earlier a Sheikh, who had returned from Kismayu in southern Somalia was also arrested by the PIS, but then let off again when al-Shabab had threatened to attack. According to local reports the vast majority of Puntlanders opposes the ungoverned activities of the PIS men in the region, who are said to get paid and supplied by a special flight from Djibouti every Tuesday in return for intelligence and counter-terrorism activities.

earlier in the week, in an interview w/ the new president of puntland, abdirahman mohamed farole, radio garowe reported

He expressed regret at the loss of life following an incident in the port city of Bossaso, where Puntland Intelligence Service (PIS) soldiers arrested a local cleric last week, sparking riots.

"Puntland security is the responsibility of security forces paid by the Puntland government. There are other security agencies, who are paid from elsewhere," President Farole added ambiguously.

The PIS has secretive ties to Western intelligence agencies, especially the American CIA, with widespread reports indicating that PIS soldiers are paid, trained and equipped by the CIA.

President Farole said the loss of life was "unfortunate" during the Mar. 23 incident, but indicated that a committee was set up to report on the incident. Further, the arrested cleric, Sheikh Osman Shire, was transferred from the PIS over to Puntland's local police force where he is currently under investigation.

Posted by: b real | Apr 4, 2009 2:20:41 AM | 10

@8
thats what is so unique about this board. The Georgia series last year pulled in some incredible posts and history. And Ukraine/Crimea is likewise very high on my list of places to watch.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Apr 4, 2009 6:29:08 AM | 11

Puntland govt orders PIS to relocate

Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed "Farole" issued a presidential decree, dated April 4th, ordering the PIS to shut down its second office in Lanta Hawada neighborhood in the port city of Bossaso, Puntland's commercial capital.

President Farole's decree indicated that the Puntland leader considered "a report issued by the Committee of ministers appointed to investigate the disorderly incident of March 23" that took place in Bossaso, where PIS soldiers arrested a local cleric and sparked violent riots.

Further, the decree stated that the President considered "consistent complaints" from civilians living in Lanta Hawada neighborhood, before ordering the PIS to "shut down its second office [Lanta Hawada] within one week and relocate to its headquarters in Biyo Kulule neighborhood near the presidential compound."

The PIS is Puntland's sole intelligence agency and has largely functioned independent of the regional authority since its establishment nearly a decade ago, with its funding reportedly received from Western intelligence services.

President Farole, who became Puntland president in January, has spoken strongly against the independent role of the PIS and has demanded that the agency's policy and operations come directly under the authority of the Puntland presidency.

Royal Navy may be forced to free captured pirates
Ministers were warned last year over legal problems that mean criminal gangs cannot be prosecuted

Pirates captured by Royal Navy warships patrolling off East Africa may have to be set free because there is no international agreement over where they can be legally prosecuted.

Internal Foreign Office documents seen by The Independent on Sunday lay bare the behind-the-scenes wrangling that could neuter the UK-led effort against the growing problem of pirates terrorising vessels in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

The collection of memos and briefing notes detail critical problems with Operation Atalanta since it was hurriedly agreed by the European Union last November in response to a series of high-profile pirate attacks around the Horn of Africa.

Although the UK volunteered to lead the EU's first naval mission, officials have consistently warned ministers that its impact could be limited by the inability to prosecute captured pirates, who are therefore freed – potentially to resume their threat to shipping.

...

EU defence ministers admitted last month that they were struggling to break through complicated international legal agreements to establish how to handle pirates taken into custody, where they could be tried, and what laws apply. They accept that court action – perhaps via special arrangements with selected countries in the region – would act as a significant deterrent.

Documents now reveal that British officials warned of the legal problems – and their potential to embarrass ministers who had committed the nation's forces to the headline-grabbing operation – from the start.

As early as last November, a briefing to ministers pointed out that: "The legal difficulties regarding arrest/detention of pirates mean that it is unlikely that pirates will be able to be brought to justice in the courts."

In a further memo, on 3 December, officials advised David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, to agree to the launch of Atalanta, "despite failure to conclude ... all the legal agreements sought with regional countries on handover of pirate suspects, accepting that this increases operational and reputational risk in the period until these agreements are concluded". The document also said trying pirates in UK courts was "not desirable", but stated that "the default option ... of releasing the pirates on to a Somali beach after destruction of pirate boats/weapons/ equipment is not attractive either in deterrence or presentational terms".

However, given the Government's prominent role in the operation, it was judged that "a decision not to launch the mission would be embarrassing and, even with careful media handling, we could expect heavy criticism".

Posted by: b real | Apr 6, 2009 1:32:40 AM | 12

this must be a joke, though it's posted as news in nairobi's daily nation

Using a hammer to kill a mosquito

From using nets to using microwave and poisoned blood, scientists now want to use weapons of mass destruction to combat Africa’s biggest killer — malaria. American scientists are making a ray gun to kill mosquitoes. Developers of the laser — dubbed a weapon of mosquito destruction (WMD) — argue that it will lock onto airborne insects.

...

In the latest development, the WMD laser works by detecting the audio frequency created by the beating of mosquito wings.

A computer triggers the laser beam, the mosquito’s wings are burnt and its smoking carcass falls on the ground. The research is backed by Bill Gates, the billionaire Microsoft shareholder. It is speculated that lasers could shield villages or be fired at swarming insects from patrolling drone aircraft.

Posted by: b real | Apr 6, 2009 2:55:59 PM | 13

No joke b real, just an attempt to get at U.S. defense pork: 'Star Wars' scientists create laser gun to kill mosquitoes

Scientists in the U.S. are developing a laser gun that could kill millions of mosquitoes in minutes.

The laser, which has been dubbed a "weapon of mosquito destruction" fires at mosquitoes once it detects the audio frequency created by the beating of its wings.

The laser beam then destroys the mosquito, burning it on the spot.

Developed by some of the astrophysicists involved in what was known as the "Star Wars" anti-missile programs during the Cold War, the project is meant to prevent the spread of malaria.

Lead scientist on the project, Dr. Jordin Kare, told CNN that the laser would be able to sweep an area and "toast millions of mosquitoes in a few minutes."
...
The research was commissioned by Intellectual Ventures, a Washington, U.S.-based company that was founded by Nathan Myhrvold, a former Microsoft Corporation executive.

Posted by: b | Apr 6, 2009 3:09:45 PM | 14

Mondoweiss reviews Mamdani's book on the "Save Darfur" sham.
Mamdani: 'Save Darfur' movement is not a peace movement

Mamdani earlier in the LRB: The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency

Posted by: b | Apr 7, 2009 7:46:53 AM | 15

b 14, i wonder what it does to human cells. this centuries ddt.

Posted by: annie | Apr 7, 2009 6:35:22 PM | 16

this "intel brief" from ISN is indeed only briefly intelligent so far as many of the details go, but the author does manage to find a feasible framing

Intel Brief: Defining the Somali Enemy

One of the worst kept secrets in Washington and the Horn of Africa is the low-level war conducted by the US in Somalia since 2006. With new UN-granted rights to cross into Somali territory and with a coalition of partners desiring to eradicate insurgents and pirates, all Washington needed was a clear enemy in order to define a simple mission to its allies and to the American people for an open war in Somalia.

In light of the UN Resolution providing this right to trespass only until December 2009 and recent declarations by the US military that “we will never go to war alone again,” it is entirely possible that an international effort to end the chaos will begin in the next 12 months.

...

On 17 December 2008, the United Nations’ Security Council voted unanimously for Resolution 1851 to permit the open pursuit of pirates into Somali territory for one year. This does not only mean pursuit on land, but by air, and “by any means necessary.”

However, with the increasing threat of terrorist activity augmented by materiel and recruits from Yemen, it is likely that the tenets of this Resolution will be stretched to their legal limits as the definition of “pirate” expands.

...

Since oil prices skyrocketed in 2008, there has been greater international interest than ever in finding and controlling untapped reserves. Somalia is clearly no exception.

On 12 March, Canada-based Africa Oil announced “plans to start drilling two wells in Somalia by the end of this year, after picking a suitable partner for the work. [James] Phillips [participant in an oil and gas conference in Mombassa] also said the company was in talks with contractors to carry out seismic work in Ethiopia and Kenya.”

It should also be noted that the failed US-led humanitarian aid effort, Operation Restore Hope, which began in Somalia in December 1992, came on the heels of a 1992 World Bank report on hydrocarbons that “ranked [Somalia] second only to Sudan as the top prospective [oil] producer” in northeast Africa.

There is clearly broad collective interest in protecting international shipping, but once the Canadians begin drilling in Somalia, this collective interest will to expand to include protection of future drilling sites, as well as the stated aim of halting the spread of Islamic terrorism.

Posted by: b real | Apr 7, 2009 11:43:04 PM | 17

relatedly

january 2009: Big Oil Rethinks Somaliland

Major oil companies who declared force majeure on their Somali assets in the 1990s are reviving their claims to blocks in the unrecognised but peaceful powderkeg Republic of Somaliland (AE 152/15). Industry sources told African Energy oil companies operating in the territory had received letters from majors including BP (which took over former Somalia player Amoco) and ConocoPhillips warning them to stop work. This represents a dramatic shift in policy by the majors, whose lawyers had previously told them to ignore any companies or government officials working in Somaliland, and may reflect expectations of a change of US policy in the Horn of Africa under President Barack Obama.

The presidency of George W Bush was dominated by a failed attempt to reunite the Mogadishu-based Transitional Federal Government with its breakaway territories, Somaliland and the State of Puntland. However, with the growing power of the Islamic resistance group Al-Shabab, and the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from Somalia, Obama and his team are expected to work to contain Mogadishu and offer some sort of recognition to Somaliland – a request that has long been sought by the Department of Defense, which remains under the leadership of Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Big Oil's renewed interest – in addition to straitened financial markets – may explain why work has been halted elsewhere in the region.

flashback -> january 1993

la times: THE OIL FACTOR IN SOMALIA

Far beneath the surface of the tragic drama of Somalia, four major U.S. oil companies are quietly sitting on a prospective fortune in exclusive concessions to explore and exploit tens of millions of acres of the Somali countryside.

That land, in the opinion of geologists and industry sources, could yield significant amounts of oil and natural gas if the U.S.-led military mission can restore peace to the impoverished East African nation.

According to documents obtained by The Times, nearly two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American oil giants Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips in the final years before Somalia's pro-U.S. President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and the nation plunged into chaos in January, 1991. Industry sources said the companies holding the rights to the most promising concessions are hoping that the Bush Administration's decision to send U.S. troops to safeguard aid shipments to Somalia will also help protect their multimillion-dollar investments there.

Officially, the Administration and the State Department insist that the U.S. military mission in Somalia is strictly humanitarian. Oil industry spokesmen dismissed as "absurd" and "nonsense" allegations by aid experts, veteran East Africa analysts and several prominent Somalis that President Bush, a former Texas oilman, was moved to act in Somalia, at least in part, by the U.S. corporate oil stake.

But corporate and scientific documents disclosed that the American companies are well positioned to pursue Somalia's most promising potential oil reserves the moment the nation is pacified. And the State Department and U.S. military officials acknowledge that one of those oil companies has done more than simply sit back and hope for peace.

,,,

Posted by: b real | Apr 8, 2009 12:08:05 AM | 18

spotlight on yet another key ally in the u.s. war on terror islam

Report: Uganda tortures terror suspects

KAMPALA, Uganda, April 8 (UPI) -- Human Rights Watch called on the Ugandan government Wednesday to end torture and illegal arrests by its anti-terrorism unit.

An 89-page report prepared by the group, "Open Secret: Illegal Detention and Torture by the Joint Anti-terrorism Task Force in Uganda," charges that in two years the unit has detained more than 100 people illegally and used torture on at least 25. Four people are known to have died, and five have disappeared, Human Rights Watch said.

During its investigation, the group said, it found that JATT agents wear civilian clothes with no badges or identification. They seize suspects, load them into cars and give them no reason for their detention.

Most of those detained are Muslims, a minority in Uganda, the report said.

"Surrounded by ambassadors' residences and lush mansions in Kololo, JATT detains and beats suspects and holds them for months without any contact with family or lawyers," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "Uganda conveniently uses the broad mantle of anti-terrorism to abuse and torture suspects."

Posted by: b real | Apr 8, 2009 1:02:19 AM | 19

there has barely been but a trickle of news out of lake victoria in the past week, other than reguritated DoD public affairs copy (read: propaganda), but this one at digital journal gives the impression that it's all over folks, time to move on...

The fuselage of the Ilyshin II 76 cargo plane which burst into flames and plowed into Lake Victoria near Entebbe on March 9, is 'split wide open, like an egg', says the commander of the US Navy diving-team which has recovered the flight recorder.

After a month-long search and recovery effort, US service members have now completed diving operations in Lake Victoria and have turned over the information retrieved from the wreckage concerning the March 9 IL-76 aircraft crash to the Ugandan investigating authorities.

"Divers were able to confirm the debris field, spread over a kilometer of the lake bed, and provided the coordinates to the CAA for their investigations. Divers located sections of both wings, parts of the fuselage, landing gear with four tires and four engines. ll of which were partly embedded into the silt, including the engines," says Captain Corinne Jones, public affairs officer at HOA_US Africom command in Djibouti.

...

The team was not equipped to lift any of these heavy airplane wreck portions from the Ugandan lake, however. Said Captain Jones: "The Government of Uganda requested US assistance in recovering the black box and flight data information."

no mention of dyncorp, dos, dyncorp, amisom, africom, the eodmu teams, ordnance disposal, etc...

the last article out of either daily monitor or new vision in kampala on this story was an article last week lifted entirely from the cjtf-hoa public affairs story i linked to in the previous thread. odd.

Posted by: b real | Apr 8, 2009 1:19:35 AM | 20

a couple items that stand out in the story of the hijacking of the maersk alabama

la times:

A U.S.-flagged cargo ship that routinely works under contract to the Department of Defense and its all-American crew were hijacked today by pirates operating off the Horn of Africa.

...

The ship's owner, Norfolk, Va.-based Maersk Line Ltd., a subsidiary of Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk, is a longtime Defense Department shipping contractor, operating at times with top security clearance.

But the hijacked vessel, the Maersk Alabama, was not sailing under a Defense Department contract at the time of the attack, according to Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman from the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain.

A Maersk spokeswoman in Copenhagen said the ship was carrying food and "relief aid," but she did not know the final destination of the cargo.

contracts w/ DoD to transport what, exactly?

abc news:

The Danish shipping company Maersk confirmed the seizure of the Maersk Alabama, a 17,000 ton container ship that was formerly known as the Alva Maersk. The ship was seized while enroute to Mombasa, Kenya.

...

Mwangura said it is the first time he can recall that American seamen have been seized off the pirate-infested Somali coastline.

Mwangura could not recall the last time Americans were captured by pirates. "Over 100 years ago," was his estimate.

"To take away an American ship is not easy," Mwangura said. "Maersk is a big company, with good security and good management. It's one of the companies with proper security training for seamen."

waiting for the details of the hijacking to come out. any possibility that it was a decoy?

The U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, said the ship was seized at 7:30 a.m. local time in the Indian Ocean, about 240 nautical miles east of the Somali town of Eyl. There was a U.S. Navy warship 300 nautical miles away when the Alabama was boarded, but the Navy is not discussing what operations its ships in the area might be undertaking in the wake of the attack.

...

Mwangura said the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama demonstrates the change in the pirates' tactics by attacking ships away from the Gulf of Aden to the Indian Ocean where most of the Navy task force is concentrated. The pirates are now hunting in the Indian Ocean east and south-east of the Somali and Kenyan coastline.

...

Maersk Alabama is the sixth ship to be taken hostage in five days, and five of them have been captured in the last 48 hours.

At least three have been hijacked near the Seychelles Islands, some 400 miles south of the Somali coastline, and well out of the range of the Gulf of Aden where the Navy is patrolling. A U.S. Defense Department official said one reason there has been a sudden increase in the number of seizures is because the waters off of Africa's east coast have become calmer following an extended period of choppy waters.

But [Roger] Middleton [of the London-based think tank Chatham House] thought the sudden jump in pirate activity is due to a change in their strategy.

"The weather is definitely a factor, but I don't think the main one," Middleton said. "It seems the pirates would be operating from a mother ship far out at sea away from the military presence, further out in the Indian Ocean where there is a freer environment for them to operate in."

i still think that fish migratory patterns may have something to do w/ this too

to wit

cnn:

The pirate attacks, which took place south of the area patrolled by U.S. and coalition ships, shows pirates are changing their tactics and taking advantage of tens of thousands of square miles of open water where fewer military ships patrol, according to U.S. military officials.

...

On Monday, pirates seized a British-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden. Also on Monday, a fishing trawler was hijacked and used to hijack other fishing vessels in the area, the bureau said.

Posted by: b real | Apr 8, 2009 11:02:07 AM | 21

the latest analysis from michael weinstein is now posted at garowe online

The T.F.G. Confronts the Security Issue

it's basically a recap of the events over the last three-and-a-half weeks surrounding the status of AMISOM forces in mogadishu, which we covered in the previous thread

in the analysis portion, weinstein writes:

The motives of the donors for wanting AMISOM expanded are not entirely clear, despite Haad's perceptive reading. Islamic scholar Imam Kasoori commented to Kenya's East African newspaper on March 29 that Uganda is in Somalia "on behalf of the U.S." and that after a two-year deployment without effect, "it appears they are now preparing for war." Although that judgment might appear to be extravagant, it needs to be kept in mind. In any case, a source who is close to AMISOM reports that it is not possible for the peacekeepers to withdraw in anywhere near three or four months, particularly if the mission is tasked with training a "national security force."

...

A better picture of the international coalition's intentions and AMISOM's future might appear after the April 22 donor's conference in Brussels.

the full reference to kasoori's quote in that article in the east african read

a Muslim scholar Imam Kasozi said that by deploying more troops, Uganda was signalling that “we are now preparing for war” against al-Shabaab.

“Let’s not forget, we went into Somalia on behalf of the US, which two years ago paid Uganda $10 million to enable the troops to travel to Mogadishu. But two years later, is there any peace to keep in Mogadishu? No. It means they are now preparing for war.”

Posted by: b real | Apr 8, 2009 11:37:42 AM | 22

been some confusing rpts surrounding the hijacking of the maersk alabama so far today. maybe they are having a hard time keeping their pirate story straight?

US crewman: Somali pirates hold captain hostage

The American crew of a hijacked U.S.-flagged ship retook control of the vessel from Somali pirates Wednesday but the captain was still being held hostage, according to Pentagon officials and a member of the crew.

The crew member told The Associated Press that the 20-member crew had managed to seize one pirate and then successfully negotiate their own release.

The man, who picked up the ship's satellite phone but did not identify himself, told the AP in a brief conversation that the crew had retaken control of the ship and the pirates were in a lifeboat. But the man also said that they were holding the ship's captain hostage.

The news came hours after Pentagon officials said the crew had retaken the vessel from the Somali pirates who seized it far off the Horn of Africa.

President Barack Obama was following the situation closely, foreign policy adviser Denis McDonough said.

...

"The crew is back in control of the ship," a U.S. official said at midday, speaking on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak on the record. "It's reported that one pirate is on board under crew control — the other three were trying to flee," the official said.

Another U.S. official, citing a readout from an interagency conference call, said: "Multiple reliable sources are now reporting that the Maersk Alabama is now under control of the U.S. crew. The crew reportedly has one pirate in custody. The status of others is unclear, they are believed to be in the water."

Maersk Line Limited CEO John F. Reinhart said the vessel's manifest showed it was carrying 401 containers of food aid bound for Africa from USAID, Serving God Ministries, the World Food Program and Catholic Relief.

He said the company received a call around 10:30 a.m. EDT from the crew that indicated the crewmen were safe. But the call got cut off, and the company could not ask any more questions.

"The crew member called to say, 'We are safe.' They did not say they had taken over the vessel. They did not say the pirates are off the vessel," Reinhart said.

...

Douglas J. Mavrinac, the head of maritime research at investment firm Jefferies & Co., noted that it is very unusual for an international ship to be U.S.-flagged and carry a U.S. crew. Although about 95 percent of international ships carry foreign flags because of the lower cost and other factors, he said, ships that are operated by or for the U.S. government — such a food aid ships like Maersk Alabama — have to carry U.S. flags, and therefore, employ a crew of U.S. citizens.

so, is this an authentic hijacking or a (clumsy) pretext for a land invasion?

also, some obviously misleading information in that AP rpt

Somali pirates are trained fighters who frequently dress in military fatigues and use speedboats equipped with satellite phones and GPS equipment.

w/o getting into semantics here, some may indeed be ex-policemen, members of the coastguard, or even soldiers but "trained fighters"? please.

Posted by: b real | Apr 8, 2009 2:51:04 PM | 23

garowe online has a bit more on the rumors of aweys engaged in conversation w/ sharif's TFG. still have yet to hear from aweys himself on these stories which have been circulating for more than a week now.

'Talks open' between Govt, Hizbul Islam faction

MOGADISHU, Somalia Apr 8 (Garowe Online) - Secret talks have began between Somalia's interim government and a group of Islamist hardliners, with independent sources saying Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys is now part of the ongoing process, Radio Garowe reports.

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, Somalia's new president, was the co-leader of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) with Sheikh Aweys when the group rose to power in south-central Somalia in mid-2006.

"Sheikh Aweys is expected to come to Mogadishu soon, so he can join the talks," said a source close to President Sheikh Sharif's government.

The source noted that the Sudanese government has "convinced" Sheikh Aweys to join the peace talks with Sheikh Sharif's interim government, with Islamic scholars reportedly leading the mediation effort.

Mr. Abdullahi Ali, a Somali political analyst, told the VOA Somali Service that the Arab League's decision to give US$18million donation to President Sheikh Sharif's government came with the "condition" of entering peace talks with the armed opposition, particulary the Sheikh Aweys camp.

Since January, Sheikh Aweys has been a key figure in the Hizbul Islam [Party of Islam] armed group where four Islamist factions merged into a united front, including the Eritrea-based ICU faction and Kismayo-based Ras Kamboni faction.

The Hizbul Islam group has been divided in recent weeks, with ex-ICU defense chief Yusuf Indho Ade leading a camp rival to Sheikh Aweys. The Indho Ade camp has overtly supported Sheikh Sharif's government under the condition of introducing Islamic law.

It is not clear where the ongoing peace talks between the Somali government and a part of the armed opposition will lead, but Sheikh Aweys has recently left Eritrea and is currently in Sudan.

...

Separately, Al Shabaab guerrillas are not part of the peace process, although the group controls many regions in southern Somalia. The U.S. government considers Al Shabaab to be a terrorist organization.

this may be another attempt to isolate al shabaab, which has incurred the entirety of the wrath of the western media as the baddies in the popular narratives. this despite the fact that it has actually been hizbul islam leading most of the attacks inside mogadishu, according to local media coverage. the fractions in hizbul islam seem to largely revolve around the zelig-ian indho ade & his loyalists as they bend toward the flavor of the week.

Posted by: b real | Apr 8, 2009 3:04:09 PM | 24

About that Maersk ship.

The U.S. regularly charters ships from shipowners and crews them with U.S. citizens for the Military Sealift Command.

They usually get the rights to do this by paying a part of the ships building cost. As far as I know the contracts are with the Danish Maersk group and with the Italian Grimaldi lines (ro-ro ships used for Iraq invasion). The German Wehr group may also have such contracts (it recently delivered weapons to Israel).

Do not believe a word of those 'humanitarian goods' delivering by that ship to Kenia. A 1,400 container load ship under U.S. command and with U.S. only crew is certainly not only 'humanitarian aid'.

For 'humanitarian' stuff putting the containers on any regular liner with a Philippian crew would have been much cheaper. The U.S. is secretly building up for a big war in Africa (south Sudan and elsewhere) and is filling the depots.

Posted by: b | Apr 8, 2009 3:26:45 PM | 25

afaik, DoD doesn't drive humanitarian shipments, or is that out the window now? that's part of the domestic concerns about AFRICOM, that the military usurps the state dept. there's still not enough info yet to really know what has happened, or to support the claims. rpts make it sound like there were only several hijackers.

and from april 5
Admiral Howard Takes Command of ESG-2 and CTF 151

Rear Adm. Michelle Howard assumed command of Expeditionary Strike Group 2 during a ceremony held on board USS Boxer today and relieved Rear Adm. Terence McKnight, ESG 2's commander since November 2007.

In addition to relieving McKnight as the ESG 2 commander, Howard assumes command of several U.S. 5th Fleet task forces, including Combined Task Force 51 and 59, as well as CTF-151, an international maritime coalition created to disrupt, deter and thwart piracy.

...

As the first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, Howard said she understands the magnitude of bridging cultural and international gaps.

Posted by: b real | Apr 8, 2009 5:04:28 PM | 26

now this story in the daily monitor contradicts the info in #20 above reporting that the black box had been recovered

Entebbe wreckage; black box retrieval futile

The American divers who were brought in to beef up the search for the Entebbe plane wreckage have ended their search after they failed to find the black box from the remains buried under Lake Victoria, Daily Monitor has learnt.

“The wreckage is still 80ft under the water and 15ft under silt in Lake Victoria that cannot enable the divers get the black box out of the wreckage,” The Air Force spokesperson Captain Tabaro Kiconco has said. The black box is used to find out the actual cause of a plane crash.

“The divers from combined joint task force Horn of Africa are set to leave the country any time after accomplishing what brought them,” Capt. Kiconco added. The joint team comprised of American experts from Djibouti, the UPDF and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) divers.

However, the CAA and UPDF divers will continue with the investigations according to CAA Public Relations Manager Mr Ignie Igundura.

Capt. Kiconco said that the divers had successfully mapped the area w[h]ere the wreckage was found and also retrieved the cracked open portion of the fuselage, plane wings, one of the engines and landing gear with four tyres.

He said the divers have also offered technical advice to the investigation team and are set to leave.

okay, hold on a moment.

“The wreckage is still 80ft under the water and 15ft under silt in Lake Victoria that cannot enable the divers get the black box out of the wreckage,” The Air Force spokesperson Captain Tabaro Kiconco has said.

yet

Capt. Kiconco said that the divers had successfully mapped the area w[h]ere the wreckage was found and also retrieved the cracked open portion of the fuselage, plane wings, one of the engines and landing gear with four tyres.

what do you wanna bet that's not all those divers from the different explosive ordnance disposal mobile units retrieved from the lake?

Posted by: b real | Apr 8, 2009 11:50:11 PM | 27

i haven't read everything out there, but, the more i do read, this hijacking is sounding more suspect

reuters:

The crew of a U.S.-flagged, Danish-owned freighter hijacked by pirates off Somalia retook control of the ship on Wednesday but their captain was taken hostage by the pirates on a lifeboat, the shipping line and a crew member said.

...

Asked about the report, a U.S. defense official in Washington said: "We have air assets in the area. It's 2:30 in the morning over there. So exactly what we're seeing, I don't know."

...

A spokesman for the company said no injuries had been reported for the rest of the crew left aboard.

"We are just trying to offer them whatever we can, food, but it is not working too good," Quinn told CNN of efforts to secure the freedom of the captain. He said the four pirates were holding the captain hostage on the ship's lifeboat.

...

A spokesman for the company said no injuries had been reported for the rest of the crew left aboard.

"We are just trying to offer them whatever we can, food, but it is not working too good," Quinn told CNN of efforts to secure the freedom of the captain. He said the four pirates were holding the captain hostage on the ship's lifeboat.

...

Second mate Quinn said the four pirates sank their own boat when they boarded the container ship. However, the captain talked them into getting off the freighter and into the ship's lifeboat with him.

The crew then overpowered one of the pirates and sought to exchange him for the captain, Quinn told CNN.

"We kept him for 12 hours. We tied him up," Quinn said. The crew released their captive to the other pirates, but the exchange did not work and the captain was still being held by the pirates on the lifeboat, he told CNN.

this has gotta be bullshit. who is are the kidnappers? special forces?

anomalies in this story:

  • only four individuals attempting to hijack a ship
  • sinking their own boat after boarding
  • taking a hostage off the vessel

    that AP article i linked earlier posited that pirates "frequently dress in military fatigues" - were these instead commandos who will then take the captain ashore which provides a pretext for a land invasion?

    Posted by: b real | Apr 9, 2009 12:30:18 AM | 28

  • AP: For US, few military options to deter piracy:

    Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, told the House Armed Services Committee that the Pentagon is looking at the issue of ordering strikes inside Somalia and said that, "ultimately, the solution to the problem of piracy is ashore — in Somalia."

    is there a transcript?

    Posted by: b real | Apr 9, 2009 12:49:54 AM | 29

    eyl

    Posted by: wadosy | Apr 9, 2009 12:57:40 AM | 30

    eyl has long been known as one of the fishing villages-turned-bases. i would like to see some current geoint evidence to back up the media rpts of it becoming a boomtown though, w/ tales of SUVs all over the place, a rise in businesses catering to "pirates", and new mansions popping up everywhere. most credible rpts put the greater percentage of ransom money paid out into the pockets of the financiers, who operate from other than somalia. i didn't see where the google earth community's project on somali pirates, specifically the identification of precise buildings, is backed up by any evidence.

    ---

    concerns in somalia about efforts to redraw somalia's territorial boundaries

    New Claim on Somali Territorial Waters

    The Somali people and their friends need to know that new and critical changes are in the offing at the United Nations that could fatally maim the interest of the Somali people if immediate and urgent action is not taken to prevent this from happening. This event concerns the re-limitation or delimitation of the territorial sea and ocean boundaries of the Somali republic, their neighbors, and other coastal states around the world.

    According to the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) there is an urgent process that is unfolding which entails extension of the outer limits of the continental shelf from two hundred nautical miles to three hundred and fifty nautical miles. This process involves that coastal states should submit supporting scientific document and technical data to the UN authority, Commission on the limits of the Continental shelf (CLCS) by May 13, 2009.

    It appears that the Governments of Kenya and Yemen have prepared document which they have submitted to the said commission. The Kenyan and Yemeni document are troubling from the Somali vantage point of the Somali as they infringe on what is and has been Somali territorial waters. In particular, the documents of the Government of Kenya clearly violate the spirit and the word of the UN technical directives, which specify that the delimitation of the coastal waters must follow a line that perpendicular to coast. Instead what the Kenyan documents claim is a line that mimics latitudinal lines which an angle much less than 90 degrees.

    We are deeply troubled by the report that elements of the Somali Transitional Federal Government are pre-disposed to support the claims of Kenya and undermine the legitimate claims of the Somali people. We thus, urge the Somalia and good friends of the Somali people to challenge these developments so that justice will prevail.

    ...

    The details of the assessment are available in the SomaliTalk.com report which is in Somali. The English and Arabic translation is forthcoming.

    the somali version is here

    Posted by: b real | Apr 9, 2009 11:16:24 AM | 31

    Somalia defends "controversial" maritime deal with Kenya

    MOGADISHU, April 8 (Xinhua) -- The Somali government on Wednesday defended a controversial maritime boundary agreement signed with the Kenyan government this week.

    The two governments on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding on their maritime boundary but some in Somalia suggested that the agreement cedes Somali maritime territory to Kenya.

    "All the talk about the government ceding land to Kenya is false and baseless. We will never cede a span of our land to any other country," Somali Prime Minister Abdurshid Ali Sharmerke told reporters in Mogadishu.

    The agreement will facilitate the presentation of Kenya's submissions to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf by May as required under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

    The Somali prime minister said the agreement was necessary for the preparation of Somalia's claim for the extension of Somalia continental shelf as the cooperation between neighbors is a pre-requite for the submission of the war-torn country's claim.

    According to the provisions of UNCLOS, coastal states intending to delineate the outer limits of their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles are required to submit particulars of such limits with supporting scientific and technical data.

    Some local media reported that the Somali government agreed the demarcation of the maritime boundary between the two east African countries in favor of Kenya.

    Somalia which had not functioning government for nearly two decades has the longest coast in Africa but its case for drawing its continental reach will be complicated by internal division and the lack of capacity to generate supporting scientific and technical data.

    Posted by: b real | Apr 9, 2009 11:25:28 AM | 32

    two more links on that

    MOU between the TFG and the govt of the republic of kenya to grant each other no objection in respect of submissions on the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles to the commission on the limits of the continental shelf

    Kenya: Can Government Beat the Deadline to Lay Claim to Expanded Territorial Waters?

    The question of where exactly to draw the offshore border between Kenya and its northern neighbour Somalia has long been a concern for Kenya’s efforts in oil exploration in the Lamu region. However, with no central government or any legitimate governing body, Somalia will not be in a position to file the necessary documentation to secure its coastal areas, and therefore may lose its erritorial waters to Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Yemen. With the increased incidences of piracy in its waters too, it is likely that the international community will be more than willing to see the waters of the country be fall under the jurisdiction of one of its more stable neighbors. Already, the UN security council has given the green light to states to patrol the waters of Somalia to curb the incidences of piracy. Under the UNCLOS, this would actually not be allowed as it will be encroachment of a sovereign country's territorial waters.

    offshore oil leases == $$$$$$

    Posted by: b real | Apr 9, 2009 11:37:34 AM | 33

    daily press

    The Maersk Alabama is based in Norfolk, but the 17,000-ton cargo ship rarely spends time in Hampton Roads.

    It was on a regular three-port rotation through the Indian Ocean from Salalah, Oman, to Djibouti and then to Mombasa, [John F. Reinhart, president and CEO of Maersk Line Ltd.] said.

    The attack on the Maersk Alabama was the second in two days, U.S. officials said. After rebuffing the first attempt, the ship's crew radioed Wednesday that two skiffs were closing in. Thirty minutes later, the ship told maritime officials that pirates had attached a grappling hook and were climbing aboard.

    The drama began when the ship was hijacked about 280 miles southeast of the Somalian town of Eyl.

    ...

    Maersk Line is one of the Defense Department's primary shipping contractors, though the Maersk Alabama wasn't under contract with the agency at the time of the hijacking.

    The ship operates under a U.S. flag, meaning that it's registered in the U.S. and required to have an American captain and crew.

    It's one of 60 privately owned vessels under contract with the U.S. Marine Security Program, which is run by the Maritime Administration, a division of the U.S. Transportation Department. Maersk operates 24 vessels for the program.

    1. where did the ship pick up its alleged cargo of humanitarian supplies? from the u.s. military base of CJTF-HOA in djibouti? or oman?

    2. how many pirates were involved in the hijacking? reports providing a number list it as four. four pirates in two skiffs? that far out at sea? even four individuals in only one skiff is an anomaly - esp taking on a vessel of that size, not to mention, one flying the stars & stripes.

    voa: Pirates Hold Up Food Aid to Somalia, Uganda, Kenya

    The United Nations' World Food Program says the U.S.-flagged container ship anchored off the coast of Somalia is carrying items to feed hundreds of thousands of starving people in Somalia, Uganda and Kenya.

    ...

    World Food Program spokesman in Nairobi Peter Smerdon says there is concern that if the container ship, Maersk Alabama, cannot reach Mombasa soon, many people in the region may not get the foodstuffs they need to sustain them in the coming months.

    Smerdon says the WFP cargo includes more than 4,000 tons of corn-soya blend for malnourished children and mothers in Somalia and Uganda and nearly 1,000 tons of vegetable oil for refugees in Kenya. Smerdon says there are many more containers of food aid belonging to the U.S. Agency for International Development and other agencies.

    ...

    The head of the Mombasa-based East Africa Seafarers Association, Andrew Mwangura, tells VOA that no one knows what the pirates are demanding as ransom for the release of the ship's captain. But Mwangura says he believes the stand-off can be resolved quickly if the ship's owner, Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk, negotiates directly with the pirates.

    "If they only establish direct contact with the pirates, it will not take time," he said. "But if they use a lot of third parties to be part of the negotiation team, then it will drag on and drag on for a long time."

    again, if the stmt in the first link is correct,

    It was on a regular three-port rotation through the Indian Ocean from Salalah, Oman, to Djibouti and then to Mombasa, [John F. Reinhart, president and CEO of Maersk Line Ltd.] said.

    where did the maersk alabama pick up its cargo?

    Posted by: b real | Apr 9, 2009 1:58:35 PM | 34

    Domestically-sourced shipping doesn't mean it's security related. Don't forget how fucked-up and protectionist things are: "Cargo preference provisions state that at least 75 percent of food aid provided to foreign countries under Titles I, II, and III of the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954 (also known as P.L. 480 or Food for Peace) or section 416 of the Agricultural Act of 1949 must be shipped on U.S.-flagged ships (The Hidden Costs, n.d.)."

    Posted by: ...---... | Apr 9, 2009 5:15:56 PM | 35

    sos - "domestically-sourced"? was it? norfolk to mombasa via the port of salalah?

    daily nation:

    Deputy captain Shane Murphy said they freed the pirate in exchange of [captain Richard] Phillips, but the bandits stuck with him demanding fat ransom.

    ...

    Mr Philips is the first American to be held hostage by Somali pirates in recent history, and the move may add a different dimension to sea banditry in the Horn of Africa.

    ...

    Apparently, the pirates met their match in the crew. They were unaware that the Americans had trained in anti-piracy tactics at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

    The academy has been training cadets for two years in these tactics in anticipation of the moment that a US vessel would be boarded by pirates.

    Mr Murphy and Mr Philips are graduates of the academy. And guess who was their teacher? Murphy’s father, Joseph, an expert in anti-piracy tactics.

    So even as they set out on their journey, they were well prepared for an attack by pirates.

    “These waters are infested with pirates that hijack ships daily,” Mr Murphy wrote on his Facebook page recently as he sailed between Oman and Kenya. “I feel like it’s only a matter of time before my number gets called.”

    Mr Murphy boarded the Maersk Alabama after delivering a lecture on fighting piracy at the academy three months ago.

    hmmm. that facebook entry, which would fit into the period of the stop in djibouti, sure sounds like a ruse. "infested" and "everday" are certainly gross exaggerations coming from what one should expect of someone w/ that background.

    two excerpts from ecoterra international's april 9 SMCM update:

    re the maersk alabama

    The 155-metre (511-foot) vessel had been due to dock in the Kenyan port of Mombassa on April 16. The hijacked boxship is run out of the huge merchant and naval base of Norfolk by Maersk Line Ltd., a division of Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk Group and was carrying emergency relief to Mombassa, Kenya, when it was hijacked, said Peter Beck-Bang, spokesman for the Copenhagen-based container shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk, but analysts wondered, since relief food is usually shipped as bulk and not by a rather expensive container-ship.

    on figures for this year

    For 2009 the account stands at 52 averted or abandoned attacks and 14 sea-jackings on the Somali/Yemeni pirate side as well as one wrongful attack by friendly fire on the side of the naval forces.

    from the april 6th smcm update:

    A Taiwan-flagged fishing vessel was sea-jacked this morning from the EEZ of the Seychelles, a maritime official from the Seychelles confirmed to Ecoterra. The Taiwanese vessel WIN FAR No. 161 was attacked by presumed Somali pirates and it is assumed that the vessel and her 29 crew will be taken to the Somali coast. Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for America's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, confirmed 29 hostages to AP. The actual crew list has not yet been presented. The Seychelles government said it received a distress call saying that a Taiwanese fishing vessel, the MV Winfar 161, and its 29 crew was hijacked in its exclusive economic zone, north of Denis island.

    Transport Minister Joel Morgan said military forces had been deployed to intercept the pirates, amid reports that three more Taiwanese ships were trying to escape capture. The sea-jacked vessel is owned by WIN UNI MARINE from Taiwan (Island-China) - a company which operates their vessels usually under flag of convenience and as no ITF agreement, which guides the working conditions and safety. According to the Seychelles' official the ship has a valid fishing license from the Seychelles. It is not yet known if the vessel was on its way back from fishing in Somalia, but numerous Taiwanese trawlers and long-liners have been observed in the past to venture into Somali waters and poach the high-valued tuna. The FAO proposed plan of action, whereby fishing vessels have to declare from where they caught their catch when entering a port of convenience to off-load has not yet been implemented in the region.

    ...

    The Greek fishing vessels FV GRECO 2 and FV GRECO 4 with mainly Korean crew are still under police custody at the Puntland harbour of Bossasso while further investigations are underway. These will have to clarify if fishing licenses issued for 40 tonnes of tuna for each vessel were actually legally and factually issued and were valid or not. In any case each of the vessels was found with about 450 tonnes of tuna and other marine species.

    from the april 4th smcm update

    the intial rpt on those two fishing vessels

    Security forces in northern Somalia's Puntland region seized two Greek fishing vessels after a gun battle on Thursday and accused them of fishing illegally in its waters. Puntland's Security Minister Abdulahi Sa'id Samatar confirmed that the security team attacked the boats on Thursday because they believed they did not have a valid fishing license. However, the fisheries minister of the semi-autonomous Puntland region, Mohamed Saleh, first had tried to shield the illegal vessels. Abdiweli Ali, the head of the Puntland coastguard, told reporters his men had been carrying out a routine check off the Horn of Africa before one of them was injured in the shoot-out at sea. "We wanted to know the legitimacy of these two ships, but as we approached they opened fire on us", Ali said. "We defended ourselves. One of our soldiers was injured. Their fishing licenses were expired, and that is why they fought us". Somali authorities have long accused European fishing fleets of illegally trawling their waters -- which are also roamed by pirate gangs who hijacked dozens of vessels last year. The Greek ships FV GRECO 2 and FV GRECO 4 with mainly Korean crew are now in police custody. The GRECO 2 was already arrested once before and the monitoring group on arms of the UN Security Council never received a reply on the formal request asking if a ransom was paid for her release.


    Receipt of such information would enable the UN Monitoring Group to ascertain whether ransom payments were used for the purchase of weapons. These notorious fish poachers are owned and operated by the Greek company GRECO Ltd. FV GRECO 4 under PANAMA FLAG is likewise illegally in Somali waters and GRECO Ltd. operated there also the F/V ASSOS under Cambodian flag. All crew of the presently arrested vessel are said to be from Korea and under police custody on their boats.

    re puntland's role

    The president of Somalia's semiautonomous region of Puntland, Abdirahman Farole, has appointed a three-member committee to investigate a deadly incident involving a private coastguard company, Radio Garowe reports. The committee is composed of three ministers, namely: Minister for Planning Minister and International Cooperation, Mr. Farah Adan Dhala; Deputy Finance Minister Abdi Qowdan; and Dr. Abdi Hassan Jum'ale, the State Minister for Democratization Process and Federal Relations. The new committee has been tasked with reviewing licenses issued by the Ministry of Fisheries to ensure legality and to review the contract between the Puntland government and Som-Can, a private coastguard company licensed by the former administration of Gen. Adde Muse. Also under review will be Som-Can personnel, including soldiers on board its gunboats, some of whom have allegedly been accused of links to piracy. Puntland's Ministry of Fisheries has awarded fishing licenses to foreign trawlers over the past ten years, while most times ignoring legal procedures and Somali as well as International law. In recent years, Puntland has become a major hub of pirate operations off the Somali coast, with a surge in piracy linked to illegal fishing and toxic dumping, some of which is attributed to foreign vessels with 'licenses' issued by the Puntland Ministry of Fisheries. Somalia's coast is famous for fish like red snapper, barracuda, shark and tuna. As the world's appetite for fish increases and fish stocks dwindle worldwide, Somali waters are increasingly attractive to foreign fishermen.

    on the IRIN story that b highlighted in the top post & the TFG minister's stmt about enacting legislation to protect fishermen & fish populations

    Ecoterra Intl. wholeheartedly supports and accompanies this move, ending times where the international fishing mafia with impunity and by cruelly abusing the poverty of the people as well as local criminal power-structures ripped the only remaining renewable natural resource from the Somalis. The stern action is essential to revive Somalia's plundered stocks of fish, especially of tuna and shark, as well as of rock-lobsters [someone reached in and grabbed it - it was a rock lobster!], which so far have made only the foreign fleets and a few local barons wealthy. Tuna from Somali waters is famous, because it has the lowest mercury-level of any yellow-fin tuna population worldwide. Somali fisheries - freed from criminal networks and forced sub-standard methods - have now the chance to rise to a world-class role-model for controlled, sustainable, socially just and fair-trade best practice in fisheries management and marine ecosystem protection.

    The navies patrolling the Somali waters based on several UN resolutions can now no longer close their eyes and have to live up to their promises by also defending the Somali waters from illegally fishing foreign vessels within the 200nm Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Somalia. In light of the serious negative social, economic and environmental impacts of the persistent over-exploitation of marine resources of Somalia such protection by the navies is much more important than the staged escort of food-deliveries, which in any case will not be robbed, because Somalis have to deposit a bank-guarantee for any food-shipment distributed to the needy in the country before it is sent by the World Food Programme. A properly regulated fishing industry is in any case the better option to create food security for Somalia than the millions of dollars wasted by the global navies flying the false flag of humanity.

    one more

    The illegally fishing Iranian fish-factory vessel "SAFARI" with 14 Iranian crew on board, captured at first for illegal fishing was - after a tug of war between authorities, coastguard and businessmen had ensued - used by her captors as mother-ship for piracy targeting merchant ships. During a takeover of another hi-jacked vessel only three armed Somali guards remained on the Iranian vessel and they were subsequently overpowered by the crew. The crew of the Iranian vessel then bound the three Somalis and escaped with their ship and loot of lobster and fish to Yemen, where the three Somalis were handed over to the authorities.

    Posted by: b real | Apr 10, 2009 1:12:28 AM | 36

    garowe online:
    The Prime Minister held a Thursday press conference in the capital Mogadishu, where he spoke about restoring security, implementing Islamic law and establishing regional authorities.

    "Somali soldiers trained in Uganda will soon arrive to take over security in Mogadishu," Prime Minister Sharmake said [in a press conference Thursday], adding that government security forces will be merged to form a national army.

    Posted by: b real | Apr 10, 2009 1:13:02 AM | 37

    re eyl, this illustrates the kind of claims that i find difficult to take seriously & would request geoint verfication since photo & video evidence have yet to materialize from w/i somalia itself

    For young Somalis, piracy offers power, prosperity

    "Years ago, our life depended on fishing, but now we have a lot of money. We have luxury cars, beautiful houses and everything we want in our coastal village," said Salah Haji Bahdon, who identified himself as a pirate in a phone interview with The Associated Press from the community of Eyl in a region where many hijacked ships are anchored while pirates negotiate ransoms.

    Bahdon added, "It is like a small paradise where people are oblivious of the problems going on in the other corners of Somalia."

    ...

    Piracy has improved the economy somewhat around Eyl, in the northern Puntland region. Commerce has increased because the pirates bring cash to spend. The pirates have promised to build new schools and better roads, but they have yet to deliver on those projects.

    The AP called villagers in Eyl who had provided reliable information in the past, and they independently verified that Bahdon and two other men were pirates. The villagers also put an AP reporter in touch with the men.

    that article also repeats the sentence "Pirates typically wear fatigues and operate from speedboats equipped with satellite phones and GPS equipment."

    compare the AP story on eyl w/ a rpt on hobyo in VOA last december

    Thirty-year-old Hobyo resident Sharif Wadad Ade speaks with bitterness about the pirates based here, describing them as outsiders who use the village only as a convenient hide-out.

    Ade says if the pirates were from Hobyo, they would be spending their share of the ransom money to help the community. But he says the pirates come from different parts of Somalia, so they do nothing to help the people.

    ...

    Such anti-pirate sentiment contradicts recent media reports that suggest residents in Hobyo and other coastal towns have a close relationship with pirates. Those reports say pirate activities have provided much-needed jobs and the pirates contribute to local economies by spending lavishly.

    But there is little in Hobyo to suggest that the residents are benefiting from the millions being paid to pirates. There are few goods on sale in the main market. The village has no running water or power. There is a pharmacy, but no doctors. There is a school house, but there are no teachers or students.

    ...

    A pirate, who identifies himself only as Kahiye, says because Hobyo has been under the authority of local clans, it has been easy for pirates belonging to the same clan groups to use Hobyo as a haven.

    But Kahiye says all pirates in central Somalia are under severe pressure from Islamists to disband.

    He says in recent months, pirates trying to go ashore in any area controlled by the Islamists have been threatened and chased away.

    Somali sources tell VOA that the Islamists' tough stance against piracy has prompted many poor people in coastal communities to quietly begin supporting the return of Islamist rule.

    Posted by: b real | Apr 10, 2009 1:43:43 AM | 38

    I don't find Ecoterra's arguments for double-super-secret military shipments (or whatever it is they're hinting) to be convincing in this case. The route is a generic East African route, and if Maersk is lying about the cargo they have their story pretty straight. USAID's vegetable oil is not shipped in bulk but in family-size cans. So, Why not containers, if you're shipping intermodally - which you always are there; and pallets aren't secure... But they're expensive! Right, find me an expensive ship now, with the Howe Robinson Index at cyclical lows. And of course they have antipiracy training.

    Posted by: ...---... | Apr 10, 2009 9:56:27 AM | 39

    @39 - Ecoterra's arguments for double-super-secret military shipments (or whatever it is they're hinting)

    actually, ecoterra didn't make any arguments on that at all. their update re the maersk hijacking merely reposted a composite from a number of news sources w/o offering commentary or insinuations.

    And of course they have antipiracy training

    no kidding. however, do you not find it odd that the deputy captain, who lectured at the academy on piracy & whose father is the "expert in anti-piracy tactics" attributed w/ responsibility for that training at the academy, would write in facebook that "These waters are infested with pirates that hijack ships daily" when actual statistics, such as those i quoted from ecoterra, show that to be hyperbole. only a fraction of one percent of the traffic moving through the region ever have any encounter w/ suspected pirates. what did the maersk alabama drop off (or pick up) in djibouti?

    Posted by: b real | Apr 10, 2009 11:08:41 AM | 40

    b real, you aren't the only one who notices something fishy about that AP reporter (For young Somalis, piracy offers power, prosperity) Imperial Scribes- Anita Powell In Ethiopia

    hmmmm, a 'pro democracy' ethiopia blog is fretting anita will be denied accreditation.

    here is another of her recently democracy humping articles Ethiopian cattle-herding tribe crowns new king

    some commentors set the record straight.

    ASSOSETED PRESS !!(AP) and NAZRET.COM

    CORECTION !!

    This is peaceful transformation of pawor which egzested in many many years...and It has nothing to do with the "Kingdom" we used to in Ethiopia.but it is deffrent kind of tradition in our country and oldsystem...and also nothing to do with woyane "FEDERALISM"

    Borenas unlike ather Oromo clan...preserved and keeped it for centurys..

    Posted by: annie | Apr 10, 2009 11:16:26 AM | 41

    hmm, she used to write for stars and stripes, association of military journalists.

    Mission Statement

    The Association exists to advance public understanding of the military, national security and homeland defense; to educate and share information with its members and the public on best practices, tools and techniques for such coverage; to represent the interests of working journalists to the government and military; and to assure that journalists have access to places where the U.S. military and its allies operate.

    Posted by: annie | Apr 10, 2009 11:26:35 AM | 42

    here's another one of those tales, this one in the ny post

    Piracy big boon to Somalia economy; hotels, restaurants sprout in port of Eyl in pirates' presence

    Modern-day piracy is growing quickly into big business - just take a look at the booming Somali pirate port of Eyl.

    Big villas and hotels are sprouting, former subsistence fishermen are driving Mercedes-Benzes and gold-digging women are showing up. So are accountants.


    here's an article from feb 27th that i missed

    Rosemount HS grad is keeping the seas safe

    Rosemount High School sent Chris Waugaman out into the world in 2002 and he hasn’t slowed down since.

    From the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean to North Korea, Waugaman has been all over the world since earning certification as a ship’s engineer at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy. His latest job just might be the most exciting yet.

    Chris Waugaman is hunting pirates.

    Well, OK, that’s not 100 percent accurate. Technically, Waugaman is part of an effort by private security firm Blackwater to protect ships in the Gulf of Aden. Along with some Navy SEALS he’s working in an area roughly 500 by 300 nautical miles off the coast of Yemen. Security teams working from Waugaman’s boat, the McArthur, will escort ships around both horns of Africa, Somalia and Yemen as they head to the Suez Canal.

    ...

    Waugaman learned about the Blackwater job by text message. He was visiting friends in Michigan when a friend sent the message asking if he wanted a job. He said he did and she told him the chief engineer on the McArthur would call him. Waugaman talked with the engineer on the phone about a week later and about five minutes after he hung up the assistant chief of Blackwater’s maritime division called to ask when he could start. Waugaman flew to Virginia later that week.

    Waugaman said for the most part militaries do not want to get involved in fighting pirates. That leaves it up to groups like Blackwater — and people like Waugaman — to handle security on the high seas. The McArthur will serve as a staging point for the SEALs and their smaller boats. Waugaman’s main job will be to make sure the ship keeps running like it’s supposed to, but he went through some small arms training in preparation for the trip.

    “Being in the engine room and being one of the senior officers I’m not too concerned (about safety),” said Robert Waugaman, Chris’ father. “His comment was, he likes himself better than he likes them so if he has to he’ll shoot back.”

    Posted by: b real | Apr 10, 2009 11:39:08 AM | 43

    That 'why a container ship?' business strikes me as hyperventilating, and somewhat tendentious. And I'm dubious that this guy's pop is some anti-piratical ninja killing machine. He's not training Seals, or Marines, or even Coast Guard guys, or even at the Merchant Marine Academy. He went to his kid's school - awww. And facebook, cmon, it's facebook, for chrissakes, he's not staging a fiendish geopolitical provocation, he's just trying to get laid.

    Djibouti, I dunno, it's a port with container terminals, So what?

    These links are great but the dots are not connecting up for me.

    Posted by: ...---... | Apr 10, 2009 11:50:11 AM | 44

    Posted by: b real | Apr 10, 2009 11:57:40 AM | 45

    I'm dubious that this guy's pop is some anti-piratical ninja killing machine

    another straw man arg. i raised an issue of inconsistency in alleged 'expertise' and facts on the ground ...or at sea

    Djibouti, I dunno, it's a port with container terminals, So what?

    well, it's also the largest u.s. military base on the continent & maersk is a DoD contractor

    appreciate the counterskepticism. whatever the details are wrt this particular hijacking, how it is being used is even more alarming, imo

    Posted by: b real | Apr 10, 2009 12:20:19 PM | 46

    True. I could easily see this as a shark-attack type media frenzy. I'd be surprised if it had much to do with administration priorities, though it could be a hobby horse of some GOP moles in DoD, I spose, or susceptible of being elevated to a test of the president's manhood.

    That bit about his pop I took not as a strawman-type caricature of your argument but as a specimen of the sort of human-interest hyperbole that's common in local journalism. They probably took down the quote and dug less than you did.

    Sure Maersk is a contractor for DoD, Maersk is a contractor for everybody and his brother. They're the biggest by far in a fairly concentrated industry (i.e. >30% three-firm concentration ratio). I could be missing something - I discounted the Iraq buildup for a long time because I didn't believe they would ever do something so prodigiously fucking stupid - but in looking at Africa my Bayesian priors would assign better-than-even odds of policy drift and neglect, if only because of resource constraints. When watching the world go by, things like Africa Confidential are great for increasing the signal-to-noise. Shame it's no longer free.

    Posted by: ...---... | Apr 10, 2009 1:58:42 PM | 47

    ...---... says

    "Djibouti, I dunno, it's a port with container terminals, So what?

    the dots arent connecting up..."

    a few more dots might fill in your picture

    Posted by: wadosy | Apr 10, 2009 9:11:51 PM | 48

    Very cool. But for me it requires a willing suspension of disbelief about 2 things (well more than 2 but anyway):

    1) That right-wing Zionist imbeciles could begin to pull it off, or even the first tottering baby steps of it;

    2) That a Zionist Dem president of even low-normal intelligence would consent to be the second Dem president to get his ass kicked in some free-for-all in Somalia. We might expect it to be done by proxy but even the hapless proxies are losing patience.

    My one beef about this place is that sometimes people are apt to discount the awesome, overwhelming power of ineptitude.

    Posted by: ...---... | Apr 10, 2009 10:32:25 PM | 49

    "My one beef about this place is that sometimes people are apt to discount the awesome, overwhelming power of ineptitude."

    you’re usually better off choosing "ineptitude" if you need to conform to the accepted wisdom…

    the 9-11/anthrax operation accomplished everything it was meant to accomplish… it vilified the people who own most of the remaining oil in the world, it gave us an excuse to start bombing them, it intimidated dissenters, and it silenced critics of israel.

    since then, i just dont see all that much progress being made in curbing the neocons... they've done a little duck dive, but the same people are repeating the same lies, the media is playing along with them, congress is still owned, lock stock and barrel by israel, and the wars are expanding according to the PNAC plan.

    Posted by: wadosy | Apr 10, 2009 10:44:29 PM | 50

    Here's what happens when I apply Occam's razor to two possibilities:

    A. That an intricate 9/11 provocation conspiracy, coordinated with bioterror, happened to be the one single thing that the Bush administration tried and did not fuck up;

    B. That the Bush administration ignored the obvious signs of 9/11 because they were dimwitted mediocrities obsessed with Star Wars;

    I have to just take my fuckin Occam's razor and cut myself in criss-cross patterns to take the pain away, it's so goddam obvious.


    Posted by: ...---... | Apr 10, 2009 11:03:49 PM | 51

    you could read a couple posts at antiwar.com for a more detailed theory of what's happening... and everything hinges on the likelihood that global oil production has peaked, and that global warming is the real thing --unstoppable in the current political climate, and the biggest long-term threat to israel.


    Heilbrunn Reviews Neo-Con Travails

    starting fourth post down


    Lew Rockwell Interviews Eric Margolis

    starting fifth post down

    Posted by: wadosy | Apr 10, 2009 11:11:04 PM | 52

    graph: oil production, drills, and price

    israel: 80 meter sea level rise

    none of this stuff is happening in a vacuum, but the behavior of the most likely suspects --suspected according to traditional parameters of motive, means, opportunity and character-- shows that they're trying to (1) flat out deny the existence of their motives, and/or compartmentalize discussion.

    Posted by: wadosy | Apr 10, 2009 11:18:49 PM | 53

    if you've been unable to connect the dots, it's no wonder...

    and it's another sign of the project's success.

    Posted by: wadosy | Apr 10, 2009 11:20:11 PM | 54

    reuters:

    The pirates are demanding $2 million for his release and a guarantee of their own safety, a pirate source said.

    The source told Reuters from the Somali fishing port of Haradheere that another group who hijacked the 20,000-tonne German container vessel, the Hansa Stavanger, a week ago were heading to the scene of the standoff.

    "Knowing that the Americans will not destroy this German ship and its foreign crew, they hope they can meet their friends on the lifeboat," said the pirate, who has given reliable information in the past but asked not to be named.

    The German ship was seized off south Somalia between Kenya and the Seychelles and has a crew of 24.

    Officials in Washington confirmed that reinforcements were nearby. The frigate USS Halyburton, equipped with guided missiles and helicopters, and a German frigate had arrived in the area of the standoff, they said.

    The USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, was also heading for the lifeboat's general area, mainly in case its medical facilities were required.

    uh huh

    voa: Somali Piracy - An Overstated Threat?

    While the piracy problem off the Somali coast is getting a lot of media attention, exactly how big a threat to maritime safety do the pirates pose?

    John Patch is an associate professor for strategic intelligence at the US Army War College and a retired Navy surface warfare officer and career intelligence officer. He's written an article – appearing on the US Naval Institute website – on Somali piracy. His comments are not to be taken as official US government policy.

    In an interview with VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua, he says the Somali piracy problem may be overstated.

    "Even with the incident of a US-flagged vessel taken, there's quite a lot of hype involved. World opinion and sometimes US opinion as well is often driven by passion, incidents of the moment and US pride. And we've got to be careful about formulating policy on those kinds of things," he says.

    Do statistics support an increase in Somali piracy activity? Commander Patch says, "Are the numbers up, numbers down? That's kind of debatable. The data behind the actual seizures is very varied. For example, if they have an approach by a small boat in the middle of the night, sometimes, with no actual piracy incident, that's still counted as an incident…. I'm not so sure that piracy is actually escalating out of control right now. My sense is, with the naval task force in the Gulf of Aden escorting daily many, many ships with safe passages, you've got to compare the number of piracy incidents to the actual safe passages and you'll see that the instances are still very low."

    ...

    Some have suggested a very targeted military response, such as destroying the pirate mother ships or the pirate leader mansions built from ransom money. Patch advises caution there as well.

    "If there was any kind of effort to move ashore, if I was making any recommendations, it would be to ensure it's a multi-lateral approach…sanctioned by the UN. That is, very clear and specific information on what the objective is that you're going after…. Imagine the ramifications if we hit the wrong house, the wrong village and we have 50 dead Somali civilians on our hands. That is an issue that might result in much worse situations and, frankly, a policy outcome that the US doesn't necessarily want," he says.

    here's patch's article, from last december. i believe i linked to it at the time

    The Overstated Threat

    Armchair admirals and politicians are quick to shake their fists, avowing, "Something must be done." Maritime industry is quick to follow, with unsettling incident accounts and dire financial projections. Yet, more informed analysis of piracy reveals that the impact in blood and treasure is altogether minimal.

    Indeed, common misperceptions abound. While maritime piracy incidents capture media attention and generate international calls for action, the piracy threat is in fact overstated. It is nothing more than high-seas criminal activity, better addressed by law enforcement agencies than warships. As a localized nuisance, it should not serve to shape maritime force structure or strategy.

    ...

    The International Chamber of Commerce's non-profit International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Center also has a relatively loose definition that allows incidents both within and outside 12 nautical miles to qualify as piracy.11 For instance, the IMB records reports of perceived small boat shadowing in high-threat areas as attempted pirate attacks, even though incident specifics are almost never confirmed. Similarly, an attempt by Greenpeace to board or thwart legal maritime activity also falls under the IMB piracy definition. Piracy data over different periods can also appear to support differing conclusions. Statistics for the past decade show a relatively consistent number of incidents per year, suggesting no increase, but a regional spike in one area can be hidden by a drop in another—Somalia versus the Strait of Malacca, for example.12 Prudent maritime analysts should scrutinize piracy reporting, data, and statistics; claims that piracy is "spiraling" are usually unsubstantiated.

    A second concern with IMB reporting is possible bias. Its Piracy Reporting Center seeks to raise awareness of hotspots, detail specific attacks and consequences, and investigate piracy incidents and armed robbery at sea and in port. While a noble cause endorsed by the United Nations, the center's raison d'etre is trumpeting the "piracy threat." Just as well-intentioned humanitarian aid groups occasionally exaggerate the scope or intensity of a crisis for effect—to draw more international attention and resources—so, too, is the IMB vulnerable to bias. Further, the bureau is almost exclusively funded by maritime shipping companies and insurers, with vested interests in keeping piracy in the headlines.13 Profit-oriented businesses loathe implementing costly preventive measures, naturally preferring that international organizations, national law enforcement agencies, and armed forces take care of the problem instead.

    The international shipping industry thus has a specific interest in exaggerating the global threat of piracy. Apparently capitalizing on the heightened 2008 media attention on Somali piracy, shipping organizations from all sides of the industry issued in September what they described as "a crisis call" to the International Maritime Organization and the UN to take "real and immediate action" to tackle piracy in Somalia, urging more nations to commit naval vessels to the area to deal with the threat.

    ...

    In its current form and scope, piracy threatens no vital U.S. national security interests. It is in no way comparable to legacy threats that shape national strategy, such as terrorism or weapons of mass destruction proliferation. Hence, it is inherently disingenuous to inflate the piracy "threat" to justify either force structure or maritime strategic underpinnings.

    As such, maritime policy and strategy deliberations and crisis course of action planning efforts should consider this reality. In this context, more U.S. anti-piracy options emerge—including no military response at all. America has long championed freedom of the seas, but it is perchance time that the many flag states and private companies enjoying the benefits of the global maritime commons contribute to the costs of keeping it secure. Because the U.S. Navy lacks the resources to effectively accomplish even a fraction of its assigned missions, treating piracy for what it is—criminal activity—should lessen the demands on an already overtaxed American Fleet.

    Posted by: b real | Apr 11, 2009 12:33:03 AM | 55

    the pirates are supposed to figure into the next 9/11 somehow.

    as of this posting, there are over 8500 stories on google news about pirates, more stories than about israel's last adventure in gaza... which is an indication of an orchestrated propaganda campaign or a very slow news day.


    By far the most important element of the new determination is the protective envelope the United States has placed in the Gulf of Aden, to the south of the Sinai Peninsula. Iran has moved large amounts of weapons and equipment to warehouses and storage facilities in Somalia and Sudan. From these storage facilities the equipment is ferried to the Sinai -- often by Somali pirates -- where it is picked up by Bedouins and carried north to the Gaza strip. By interfering with Iranian and pirate shipping, the United States is cutting the supply of Iranian arms to Hamas at the source.

    Sudan attack demonstrates new U.S.-Israel counter-Iran policy HS (homeland security) daily wire

    we're assuming here that israel is part of the US homeland, and tel aviv is the capitol of israeli america.

    Posted by: wadosy | Apr 11, 2009 1:31:54 AM | 56

    following up on the ranneberger watch from the last thread

    he's still at it

    daily nation: US seeks to mend Kenya coalition rift

    Addressing a news conference in Nairobi on Friday, US envoy Michael Ranneberger joined his German counterpart Walter Lindner in pushing for a quick solution to the impasse that threatens to split the coalition government.

    Mr Ranneberger said he would soon meet both President Kibaki and Mr Odinga with a view to having them agree on the implementation of reforms.

    The envoys said it was wrong for the church and civil society to push for fresh elections [!!!], even as the coalition government seems lax to implement key reforms. They described the calls for elections as “a recipe for sending the country back to ethnic chaos”, saying it was time for the President and PM to “honour their word and deliver on reforms”.

    ...

    The envoys also asked ODM not to go ahead with its planned public rallies as this would polarise the country.

    ...

    Mr Ranneberger said President Barack Obama and the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were “watching closely the situation” and could intervene to prevent escalation of the problem.

    ...

    Elsewhere, Mr Ranneberger urged Kenyans to rule out elections before 2012, saying leaders should first bring reforms before polls are held.

    He was speaking at Teremi Boys’ and Chwele Girls’ high schools in Bungoma West District, where he donated money for construction of dormitories.

    the standard: Obama says he is watching Kenya keenly

    "US has a strong interest in the political stability of Kenya…Kenya is too important to fail. It is not me saying this, this is shared by the highest level of my Government," said America’s ambassador to Kenya, Michael Rannerberger, who delivered the message.

    ...

    The diplomats dismissed early elections as an alternative and said the campaign mode already engulfing the country was unnecessary. "Elections will be the worst alternative to embrace. I appeal to the political class to tone down (their) language, stop an early campaign, roll up sleeves and go back to work," said Lindner.

    ...

    Ranneberger said political bickering had distracted the country from the reform agenda, a scenario not taken lightly by Washington. "If the country cannot move ahead, Kenya’s democracy will be at stake. Both sides (ODM and PNU) share equal responsibility of the problems in the grand coalition…Secretary of state, Hillary Clinton is closely following what is happening in Kenya," he added.

    "Having an election prematurely is recipe to turn the country into chaos. This is not the time to talk about elections…very soon I will be seeing both the PM and President to relay the concern Washington has for the Kenyan situation," he said.

    Posted by: b real | Apr 11, 2009 1:34:50 AM | 57

    the dots are getting so thick on the ground that you dont need to connect them any more.

    Posted by: wadosy | Apr 11, 2009 1:43:26 AM | 58

    i will try this post one more time, in case there was some malfunction that interfered with the first version....


    the pirates are supposed to figure into the next 9/11 somehow.

    as of this posting, there are over 8500 stories on google news about pirates, more stories than about israel's last adventure in gaza... which indicates an orchestrated propaganda campaign or a very slow news day.


    By far the most important element of the new determination is the protective envelope the United States has placed in the Gulf of Aden, to the south of the Sinai Peninsula. Iran has moved large amounts of weapons and equipment to warehouses and storage facilities in Somalia and Sudan. From these storage facilities the equipment is ferried to the Sinai -- often by Somali pirates -- where it is picked up by Bedouins and carried north to the Gaza strip. By interfering with Iranian and pirate shipping, the United States is cutting the supply of Iranian arms to Hamas at the source.

    Sudan attack demonstrates new U.S.-Israel counter-Iran policy HS (homeland security) daily wire

    we're assuming here that israel is part of the US homeland, and tel aviv is the capitol of israeli america.


    LOL

    Posted by: wadosy | Apr 11, 2009 1:48:33 AM | 59

    great, a 9-11 two-step getting revved up, but i don't think this is the virtual location for it. b posted a link to the thermite article that came out recently. there was yer chance to "go there."


    Posted by: Lizard | Apr 11, 2009 1:54:21 AM | 60

    yeah.

    probably the only "virtual location for it" will be in one of the camps... or maybe whatever afterlife you care to imagine.

    when the dots get too thick, it's time to shoot a few intellectuals.

    Posted by: wadosy | Apr 11, 2009 1:57:48 AM | 61

    if you look at that map, you'll see why kenya has gots to be a bastion of democracy in northeast africa...

    if the israeli americans close down the bab el mandeb to chinese tankers, the chinese might decide to build a pipeline from south sudan through kenya.


    but it looks like the israeli americans are still playing checkers, and the chinese have been playing go all this time... the israeli americans fell for the same deal in pakistan.

    the geography and the geology is gonna defeat israeli america, and that's just how it is.

    Posted by: wadosy | Apr 11, 2009 2:11:08 AM | 62

    Please continue in the new Africa comments thread.

    Posted by: b | Apr 11, 2009 2:51:20 AM | 63


    the pirates are supposed to figure into the next 9/11 somehow.

    abu M asked, in a post titled 'the big question' Does it not strike anyone else that what we're doing in the Horn of Africa looks a lot like what we were doing in Afghanistan before 9/11?

    Posted by: annie | Apr 11, 2009 11:23:35 AM | 64

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