Sunday, December 14, 2008

US Admiral skeptical about Somalia plans

As I reported on Thursday, this week Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will introduce a resolution at the UN to grant countries the right to pursue Somali pirates onto land, I didn't think it was such a good idea, neither does Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, the commander of US naval forces in the Middle East.

Vice Admiral Gortney told the Voice of America on Saturday that it would be difficult to attack the Somali pirates on land since they would easily blend into a crowd in one of the bustling port cities. He's got a good point, it's not like the Somali pirates run around with eye patches and parrots on their shoulders, many at one point were fishermen or ran small merchant vessels along the coast, boats they now use in pirate attacks. Just to emphasize the point, Gortney described an incident last week where the Navy came to the aid of a small boat adrift off the coast of Somalia. When the sailors boarded, they found machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades - the tools of the modern pirate, but since they had not actually caught the boat in the middle of a pirate attack, they had no authority to detain the crew. In short, to the Navy the pirates looked just like a broken-down fishing boat.

Gortney said that the piracy problem wouldn’t be solved until the rule of law is returned to Somalia, and economic development projects are put into place to give would-be pirates another (legal) way of earning a living. He also called on the world's shipping companies to do a better job of providing security for their vessels themselves.

The UN is scheduled to take up the Somalia resolution on Tuesday.
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