Somalia: Pity The Poor Pirates


July 17, 2012: Pirate activity is down over 50 percent so far this year. In the first six months there were 69 pirate attacks off Somalia, compared to 163 in the same period last year. The drop in ships captured (21 last year versus 13 in 2012) was also dramatic. The pirates are still a threat but the countermeasures (more aggressive military patrols, more armed guards on large merchant ships, and more commercial ship crews aware of what they are up against) have thwarted the efforts of more and better equipped pirates.

The pirates are also under attack on land, where NATO has decided to allow their ships to fire at land targets and the government of Puntland (where most pirates operate from) are being more aggressive. This is the result of pressure from the West and the more aggressive use of foreign aid (or halting it) to get the Puntland officials to act. Until the land bases of the pirates are shut down the piracy will continue.

The UN is accusing leaders of the TNG (Transitional National Government) of stealing 70 percent of the foreign aid sent to Somalia over the last few years. The UN is urging members to enact sanctions on the most corrupt Somali officials. While all these thieves will be out of a job when the TNG is dissolved next month (to be replaced by an elected body), the corrupt officials are maneuvering to ensure that they obtain influential positions in the new government as well. The UN, and many donor states, are opposed to that. But the corrupt Somali leaders are willing to disrupt Western sponsored attempts to bring peace and government to Somalia, if that will provide them more opportunities to steal foreign aid and plunder their fellow Somalis. This attitude is the main reason there has been no peace, or government, in Somalia for over two decades. As long as these attitudes persist Somalia will remain a mess.

The bad leadership in Somalia has crippled the economy and the resulting high unemployment has made it easier for bandits and Islamic radicals to recruit new gunmen. Somali leaders complain that less foreign aid is coming in but do little to halt the theft of such aid. The foreign aid donors tend to stop sending aid when it becomes clear that most of it is being stolen. This is continuing to cause problems in areas of southern Somalia that have been cleared of al Shabaab gunmen. Local men promptly form armed gangs and try to steal from the heavily guarded aid convoys sent in to relieve hunger. Someone has to organize an armed rescue force, as the local brigands will block the road, and the convoy, until they are paid off (with a truck or two, along with its cargo).

July 16, 2012:  An al Shabaab car bomb in Mogadishu killed a former trade minister and wounded six others. The bomb was planted in the victim's car and went off as the motor was turned on.

In Kenya, near the Somali border, a police patrol was ambushed and three policemen killed.

July 11, 2012: In Puntland three foreign aid workers (two Kenyans and a Somali doctor) were kidnapped by 14 armed men. Puntland mobilized police and pro-government clans to hunt down the kidnappers and free the captives. Puntland wants more foreign aid and kidnapping aid officials discourages donors.

July 10, 2012:  In response to attacks on Kenyan churches by Islamic terrorists on July 1st, some Kenyan Moslems have volunteered to help guard churches, especially on Sunday.




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