Wednesday, July 30, 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

Solano County Fair set to open Wednesday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Marketing study looks at Berryessa resorts

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Library teens plan summer reading party

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

Fairfield tries to end Cordelia Road detour

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 15 Comments | Gallery

 
Caltrans makes I-80 lane change

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 5 Comments

 
Police arrest suspected intruder

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 4 Comments | Gallery

Activity is Medicine program coming to Suisun senior center

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Big-rig crash shuts down freeway onramp

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Big-rig driver strikes telephone lines in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A6, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Icon sends first A5 into the skies on maiden flight

By Susan Winlow | From Page: B7

 
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ primed for big screen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Fairfield police log: July 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: June 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: July 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: July 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Weather for Wedneday, July 30, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B14

 
.

US / World

Hamas demands for cease-fire and Israel’s concerns

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

 
Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Fist bumps less germy than handshakes, study says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
New California fines for wasting water take effect

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California lifeguard injured by lightning improves

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
PG&E charged with obstruction over San Bruno blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Chevron California refinery overhaul up for vote

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Tuberculosis patient who refused care is arrested

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

4 charged with murder in death of USC student

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Crews make gains on 2 California wildfires

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Last crew member of Enola Gay dies in Georgia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Poll: Immigration concerns rise with tide of kids

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Shelling adds to mounting civilian toll in Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
US, Europe impose tough new sanctions on Russia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Generation of tanners see spike in deadly melanoma

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Senate confirms McDonald as VA secretary

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

Body of young stowaway found in US cargo plane

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Report: Health premiums rose significantly in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Highway, bridge money at risk: Senate to vote

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Senate bill would end NSA phone records collection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Liberians in US worry about Ebola outbreak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Top doctor dies from Ebola after treating dozens

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

.

Opinion

Red light camera fate now uncertain in state

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

 
Obscure state agency creates big money problems

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

Some people have missed the drought memo

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 9 Comments

 
What kids don’t know would shock you

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 17 Comments

 
Cemetery support committee thanks sponsors

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

.

Living

Community Calendar: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
What to do when ‘it’ hits the fan

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

Today in History for July 30, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
I like Liam, but I think he’s interested in another girl

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

Horoscopes for July 30, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
A do-ahead dinner to make back-to-school smoother

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

You too can bake artisanal quality bread at home

By Elizabeth Karmel | From Page: B6

 
A healthy afterschool snack that eats like a treat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Music aside, Queen of Soul is pumped for fair food

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Sarah Palin launches online subscription channel

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
‘Sharknado’ sequel has bite and lots of laughs

By Frazier Moore | From Page: A7 | Gallery

.

Sports

49ers WR Brandon Lloyd enjoying return to NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Schaub settles in as Raiders starting QB

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Fairfield Indians blank Next Level Athletic to win SRL tournament title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

NCAA settles head-injury suit, will change rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Mudcats tie Vacaville Admirals

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

No joke: Kings’ Cousins hopes for Team USA shot

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Liriano fans 11 in Pirates’ 3-1 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Athletics rally for 6 runs in 9th, beat Astros 7-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Husband arrested in death of NBA player’s aunt

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Triple-A brawl results in 11 suspensions

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Broken water main floods UCLA; 5 people rescued

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

49ers sign former Cardinals RB Alfonso Smith

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Vin Scully to return for 66th season in LA in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Wednesday, July 30, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

Study: 35 percent in US facing debt collectors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
McDonald’s could be liable for labor practices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Food writers subpoenaed in ‘pink slime’ lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Stocks end lower ahead of economic data

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Twitter 2Q results soar, stock flies high

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Obituaries

Robert Dale Myers Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Clifford C. Hemler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Jeanetta M. Hale

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Patricia Jo McDonald

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Jack L Hudack

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5