Saturday, November 14, 2009

Spain Wants To Take Fight To Pirates

Spain is proposing a drastic change to the way the international community is dealing with the piracy problem off the coast of Somalia. Spain's new idea is to blockade the three Somali port cities used by the pirates as bases of operation and as places to store the ships they capture.

In recent weeks the piracy problem has become personal for the Spanish - three dozen Spaniards were captured aboard a fishing trawler, the Somali pirates are refusing to let any of them go until the Spanish government releases two pirates they are currently holding. The Spanish government is of course refusing this demand.

There is some logic to the Spanish blockade approach. In the past month, the pirates have launched a series of attacks hundreds of miles from the Somali coast, in one case they attacked a ship nearly a thousand miles out to sea, meaning piracy is now a threat throughout a good chunk of the Indian Ocean. It is far too much sea for the roughly two dozen international warships participating in anti-piracy efforts to effectively patrol. Two dozen ships though could blockade three port cities.

What the Spanish didn't explain is what they would do if the Somali pirates tried to run the proposed blockade, especially if they tried to bring a captured civilian ship into port, since a military attack would almost certainly kill some or all of the civilian ship's crew. Spain will formally make their proposal at a meeting next week of countries participating in the anti-piracy flotilla.
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