The recent acts of piracy on Somalia’s coast are starting to become more violent. Recently the U.S. Navy successfully rescued Richard Phillips, the captain of an American cargo ship that was captured by pirates.
The recent acts of piracy on Somalia’s coast are starting to become more violent. Recently the U.S. Navy successfully rescued Richard Phillips, the captain of an American cargo ship that was captured by pirates. The U.S. Navy used snipers and killed three pirates who had taken Phillips hostage. The fourth surrendered. Based on that information, the U.S. did a job well done. But the possible ramifications and the recent history of piracy makes this a very bad thing.
Up until recently, the pirates have acted civil. Well, as civil as a pirate and hostage-taker can be. They have taken over ships by firing into the air or into the hull. Some of the hostages have even gone as far as to say their time as a captive was hospitable. But all that may be over now.
Upon killing the three pirates, their leader released a statement saying that if any other country attempts to use military action against the pirates, then they will kill hostages in the future as payback for the harm caused to them. Before that there was only one known death as a result of the recent pirate acts. That doesn’t sound good to me. Granted, we can’t just allow piracy to go unchecked, but if there were pirates who were trying to not be violent, the question is: why?
Or does that even matter? The pirates made the “why” obvious when they demanded a ransom, right? The “why” is money. But what is the money being used for?
The so-called pirates in this case are really just desperate fisherman. When the Somali government collapsed, these fishermen just kept on doing what they did—they fished. They didn’t immediately take up piracy, but did eventually, because there was no longer a government or anyone with enough power to prevent them from committing acts of piracy.
The problem is that there isn’t a strong government in place (the Transition Federal Government is hardly effective), so there are no police or institutions to protect the victims of piracy from Somalia’s coastal waters.
The onslaught of commercial fishermen from Italy who started fishing off their coast hasn’t helped either. Yes, Italians have had a long-standing colonial claim to the coast. But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to plunder all of its resources, especially when the fishing industry is one of Somalia’s most important.
One U.N. report, according to Time magazine, states that approximately $300 million worth of seafood is stolen from Somalia’s coast each year. As it happened, the marauding went from fishing to shrimping and then pretty soon there were barrels of nuclear waste washing up on the Somali shore, according to reports from news sources such as Al-Jazerra.
And why wouldn’t major corporations dump waste? It’s cheaper, right? Many Somalis are now sick from radiation poisoning. And 300 or more people have died as a result of the dumping.
The Somali pirates, some of whom are not freedom fighters but rather thugs looking for a quick buck, generally view themselves as citizens of Somalia. Some of the names of their fleets, such as Somalia’s Marines, aren’t names generally associated with thugs. But if we gave the rest of Somalia a reason to stop pirating it’s likely they would, too. But first the real pirates have to stop plundering and polluting Somali waters.