Wednesday, November 26, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Do Somali pirates have legit gripe?

By
July 27, 2011 |

For years, Somali pirates have been hijacking ships off the coast of Somalia. For years, the United States and what we credulously call “the international community” have not been able to figure out what to do about it. As a result, more and more vessels are being attacked over a widening expanse of ocean; violence is increasing while ransoms rise.

Jay Bahadur, a resourceful, 27-year-old Canadian journalist, found this situation irresistible. He made his way to Somalia and did what good journalists do: ask questions — mostly while sipping sweet tea and chewing khat, an intoxicating plant to which an astonishing number of Somalis are addicted. The result his book: “The Pirates of Somalia: Inside Their Hidden World.”

Among the first things Bahadur learns is not so surprising in this day and age: Somalia’s pirates don’t see themselves as pirates. Displaying admirable public relations savvy, they call themselves “saviors of the sea” or “coast guards.” They have a legitimate grievance: foreign fishing fleets depleting Somali waters and uprooting the coastal reefs with steel-pronged drag fishing nets. A pirate who goes by the nickname Boyah tells Bahadur it is “up to the international community . . . to solve the problem of illegal fishing, the root of our troubles. We are waiting for action.”

Starting in the 1990s, Boyah was among those who began seizing foreign fishing vessels. Before long, as these sea dogs developed their skills, commercial shipping vessels became fair game as well. Soon, Somali buccaneers were preying on anything that sailed their way including, starting in 2005, World Food Programme transports attempting to deliver aid. And, four months ago, pirates seized a small yacht that was being sailed around the world by two retired American couples that were stopping along the way to donate Bibles to far-flung churches and schools. As U.S. naval officers attempted to negotiate their release, all four Americans were murdered.

Piracy has become an organized enterprise in Somalia. There are elite pirates who specialize in attack and capture. There are “holders” who “look after the hostages during the ransom negotiations.” Piratical staffs include translators, negotiators, accountants and cooks. There are financiers who demand strong return on investment.

In 2005, the average ransom was $150,000. A few months ago $13.5 million was paid for the return of a ship and its crew. As the ransoms rise, so do the number of attacks: During the first six months of this year, more than three times as many compared with the same period in 2010.

Somalia is a collapsed state but Bahadur thinks it’s wrong to see it as a failed state. Rather, it currently comprises “a number of autonomous enclaves” dominated by rival clans. The Puntland State of Somalia, from which he reported, surrounds the tip of the Horn of Africa, including almost half its coastline. Puntland was, he says, “the natural candidate to become the epicenter of the recent outbreak of Somali piracy” not because it is in chaos but because it is relatively stable. That means not too much crossfire for the pirates to worry about and not too many competing interests to pay off.

Somalia also is home to al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization affiliated with al-Qaida. Bahadur is skeptical about reports of an “Islamist-pirate conspiracy” but he doesn’t rule out alliances of convenience.

In an epilogue, Bahadur offers his recommendations for mitigating — not eliminating — piracy. Among them: financing a local police force “capable of stopping the pirates before they reach the sea,” clamping down on illegal fishing, and encouraging or requiring “passive security measures aboard commercial vessels.” I’m not persuaded this brave young reporter has the solutions but the ideas he puts on the table could be the start of a serious policy discussion.

Defeating the Somali pirates of the 21st century should not be much more difficult than was defeating the Barbary pirates along a different African coast in the 18th century. But back then the new government of the United States decided that paying off brigands would not do and that defending American citizens was essential.

Now, too often, American officials bow to what we credulously call the United Nations and other multilateral organizations that have come under the control of powers hostile to what we now generally refrain from calling the Free World. To borrow Boyah’s words, that’s “the root of our troubles. We are waiting for action.”

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism.

Clifford D. May

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • ertdfgJuly 28, 2011 - 2:21 pm

    Yes, they do; much like me. I had someone rob my house last week; I don't know who. So I've been grabbing strangers off the sidewalk outside my home and holding them hostage for ransom; killing a few of them. I mean until the rest of the world can make sure my home is secure and people aren't stealing my stuff (the root of the problem) then the kidnapping and killing of innocent bystanders is necessary. So fix my security issue and maybe I'll stop kidnapping and killing random civilians. Or does this argument only work for them and not for me? Do I have the let the 14 people in my basement go free now?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Groups distribute Thanksgiving food

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Police: Vehicle burglaries not new for Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
 
County fair proposal, budget topics of scrutiny

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police investigate shooting

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Library schedules soap-making program

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

Vacaville PD seeks VIPS program volunteers

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

 
Fairfield police offer free gun locks

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Science comes to libraries – for all to see

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

Soroptimists seek award applicants

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

 
 
Nichols plans free family concert in Napa

By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

Church’s holiday soiree on Vacaville calendar

By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

 
Suisun City police log: Nov. 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Fairfield police log: Nov. 23, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: Nov. 22, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Nov. 23, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 2 Comments

Suisun City police log: Nov. 22, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Weather for Nov. 26, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

.

US / World

Protesters return to riot-scarred Ferguson streets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 4 Comments

 
Anger at Ferguson case based on emotion, evidence

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 11 Comments

 
Tough to make a case against police in shootings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

Heirloom ring flushed; sewer workers retrieve it

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Ohio family recovers missing Sasquatch statue

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Auction fetches $28K for 1st batch of new bourbon

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
In Seattle, tofu turkeys get Thanksgiving pardons

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

Los Angeles freeway sign unveiled with typo

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Window washer fights for life after 11-story fall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Agreement: LA jails to improve wheelchair access

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Cosby philanthropy shadowed by sexual allegations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Oakland police arrest more than 40 protesters

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

 
Lawmakers target Golden Gate Bridge sidewalk fee

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Arkansas, Mississippi gay marriage bans overturned

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Calorie count to appear with many prepared foods

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Wet basements in Buffalo as flooding fears ease

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Soldiers to spend Thanksgiving in Ebola isolation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

2 teen female bombers kill more than 40 in Nigeria

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
8 shoes of Holocaust victims stolen in Poland

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Activists: Syrian strikes kill 60 in IS-held city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
AP sources: Top candidate for defense job bows out

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

WWII Museum opening new pavilion in New Orleans

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Police: Students ran high school prostitution ring

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Official: Afghan president orders military review

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Opinion

Hagel: The fall guy

By David Rothkopf | From Page: A8

 
Senate staff cuts reduce transparency

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in History: Nov. 26, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Nov. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Community Calendar: Nov. 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Horoscope for Nov. 26, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

The man I’m seeing makes no effort to get to know my kids

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
A do-ahead cornmeal biscuit to sop up your gravy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Fresh take on an herb-roasted Thanksgiving turkey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Turn turkey leftovers into a healthy dinner salad

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
‘Birdman’ leads Spirit Awards nominations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Vacaville Christian wins 3-0, advances to state quarterfinals

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Curry powers Warriors past Heat 114-97

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

49ers rookies shine in big roles, out of necessity

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Cousins, Kings beat Pelicans 99-89

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Red Sox bring in Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Giants third base coach Tim Flannery retires

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

AP source: Left-hander Jon Lester, Giants to meet

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Pats are unanimous No. 1 in AP Pro32 rankings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NFL, union discuss personal conduct policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Bama, FSU, Oregon, Miss St keep playoff rankings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Messi sets European record with 74 goals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Judge OKs Hernandez trial delay in 2012 killings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Kurt Busch wins delay of Delaware court hearing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

US economy posts even stronger growth in Q3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Thanksgiving travel woes? There’s an app for that

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

US home price gains slow for 10th straight month

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Barbie dethroned by Team Elsa

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Rain, snow could mess up Thanksgiving travel

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
New iPhones push Apple’s market cap past $700B

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Twitter lets merchants offer deals to its users

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
.

Obituaries

Esther Ringler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Glenita Reyes McLaughliin

By Daily Republic | From Page: A4

Leslie “Esi” Gros

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5