Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Is The Military Presence In Somalia Helping The Situation, Or Making It Worse?

By: Justin P. Romanos
On February 22nd 2011, four American yachtsmen that were captured last week in the Arabian Sea were killed. Normally Somali pirates use captives as ransom, rather than just killing them. Pirates received about $1 million in November for the release of British yachters Paul Rachel Chandler.
After recent Somali pirate attacks, the Indian ocean has seen an increased military presence, with European, Russian, Chinese, Indian, and American navies patrolling sea lanes. Somali gangs have threatened to kill and mutilate captives in revenge for killing Somali pirates, creating a perpetual cycle of violence.
For example, a successful military action carried out against pirates turned out to worsen the maritime safety. On Jan 15, 2011, a South Korean cargo ship, the Samho Jewlery, was attacked and boarded by pirates 430 miles from the Somali coast. A South Korean destroyer in the area shadowed the captured ship for several days before striking. After a gun battle, eight of the pirates were shot dead, and all of 21 crewmembers were rescued. Unfortunately, according to Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Pirates have told the media that any South Korean seamen captured will be killed, regardless of the situation. Although the crewmembers of Samho Jewlery were safely rescued, other South Korean vessels might be in a more dangerous situation.
South Korean naval special forces in action during the raid which left eight pirates dead (Reuters: South Korean Navy/Handout)

Since the pirate attacks have begun, foreign navies have increased patrols and have arrested dozens of pirates. According to the most recent data from Ecoterra Internation, 51 foreign vessels and 819 sailors are currently being held captive. However, on Feb 22nd, the European Union Naval Force said Somali pirates are currently holding at least 32 vessels and 692 hostages. It seems that in light of the recent military actions, the violence is only increasing. Although it is not easy to prove that military actions have increased violence, the correlation is fairly visible. Many agree that the situation in Somali is dire and appropriate actions should be taken, but we must be careful about the possible consequences.
Stein, Ginny. "Pirates Vow Revenge for S Korean Rescue - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)." ABC News. 24 Jan. 2011. Web. 10 Mar. 2011.
"US to Increase Military Presence off Somalia - Telegraph." - Telegraph Online, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph - Telegraph. 10 Apr. 2009. Web. 09 Mar. 2011.
"Why Did Somali Pirates Kill Four American Yachters? -" The Christian Science Monitor - 22 Feb. 2011. Web. 09 Mar. 2011.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Financial Troubles and Setbacks Caused By Piracy in Somali

By: Nnaemeke Offodile

Piracy in Somali probably isn’t near the top of your list of important things; however with all the global trouble it is causing it probably should be. This reoccurring problem has triggered a financial domino effect, which ultimately results in shipping companies spending more and more money for these cargo ships. In the grand scheme of it all, Somalia pirates are discouraging international trade through that area.

When a high way is closed down what do you do? I assume you turn on your GPS system and find an alternative route that is probably twenty minutes longer.  The same logic applies for cargo ships; where in this case pirates provide the cause of the high way closure. Many shipping companies have begun diverting their cargo ships around Somalia, which only increase their cost due to a longer traveling distance. Vice president of chartering and operation of Fairmount Shipping in Canada, Samuel Tang addresses this issue of piracy. During his interview he states, “As of December 16th, our insurance underwriters declared almost the entire Indian Ocean as a high-risk area. Now, even if we're not in the worst area, we're charged.”  Tang also estimated that prior to December 1st, 2010 shipping was already costing each company an extra $100,000, just to avoid traveling though Somalia waters. So to put this into perspective, the new “high-risk zone,” was brought into effect because of Somali pirates venturing further in the Indian Ocean. This zone is now costing companies another $100,000 to $120,000 per trip, in effect doubling the cost to roughly $200,000 for a single trip.  Tang states that his ships make a total of around 10 trips to India every year. Somalia is costing his company an additional $2 million to the regular cost for shipping to India. These expenses are not including the underline cost; including the cost of higher security, extra fuel for longer trips, ransoms for the lives of crew members, and other minor expenses that will ultimately add up.
In the year 2008, world trade totaled at around $13.9 trillion. Shipping provided 80% of the world’s trade by volume, and about 8% of merchant ships traveled through the Suez Canal, making them a very vulnerable target for pirate attacks. Also in 2008, piracy was estimated to have cost the world somewhere between $60-70 million.
BBC. “Q&A: Somali Piracy.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2011. <>.

Gettleman, Jeffrey. “21st-century pirates: armed gangs of Somalis are threatening international shipping and hurting an already weak global economy.” BNET. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2011. <>.
Morton, Brian. “Somali pirates hurting Vancouver company’s bottom line.” The Vancouver Sun. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2011. <>.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Money Is the Root of All Evil

By: Sungwook Hwang

The United States government does not negotiate with criminals or terrorists. They, the European governments, practice a similar discipline. Then how are the pirates not out of business yet? Here is the answer – insurance companies step in and clean up the mess.

    Time magazine revealed the process. When a vessel is about to be hijacked by the Somali pirates, its crew notifies their company headquarters. Then the executives of the company contacts insurance companies. From there, insurance companies contract a “response company” such as Control Risks in London or ASI Global in Houston, TX. It is not legal for the insurance companies to pay the ransom, but there is no law against the response companies to negotiate and deliver cash. Pirates are not considered as “terrorists,” but as maritime “criminals.”

    This ironic transaction of piracy has increased the demand for the maritime insurance. Although it may seem like a loss at first, it will eventually lead to a bigger “pie.” If you encourage piracy in Somali water, everyone would want to have a piracy insurance. Why would you not want more piracy in Somali water?

    Dr. J. Peter Pham, director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, also made a point in an interview with VOA.
"The ransoms being paid by the shipping companies are also part of the problem. On one hand, from a purely economic point of view, it makes a great deal of sense if you have a cargo ship that is worth at least $20 to $30 million, it stands to reason that paying them a million dollars to get it back is an economically rational decision. Unfortunately, what might be in the selfish, self-interest of a single shipping company contributes to a general climate where the price of ransoms are bid up and there's incentive for more people to get involved in this lawlessness."
A package which observers believed to contain a payment drops over the Sirius Star supertanker, January 9, 2009.
David B. Hudson / US Navy / Reuters

Due to the supply delivered to the pirates, pirates are now equipped with more advanced technologies and more weapons, according to a BBC reporting. The piracy in Somalia will flourish unless the “economics of ransom” is abolished. Money is, indubitably, the root of all evil.

BBC. "Q&A: Somali Piracy." BBC News. 2 Nov. 2009. Web. 05 Mar. 2011. .
"Somali Piracy - Causes and Consequences." 10 Apr. 2010. Web. 05 Mar. 2011. .
Walt, Vivienne. "Why the Somali Pirates Keep Getting Their Ransoms." TIME. 20 Apr. 2009. Web. 05 Mar. 2011. .

Nuclear and Toxic Waste Pollution in Somali Waters Contributing to Piracy

By: Zach Williamson
            When the average person imagines a pirate the first thing that comes to mind is a 1650’s, ruthless, peg-legged, bearded man who pillages valuables. Or maybe newer films come to mind such as Pirate’s of the Caribbean, featuring a man known as Captain Jack Sparrow, the epitome of a true pirate. In this modern day society it is hard to believe piracy is still lurking in our oceans.
            In Somali waters, piracy has been becoming an ever-increasing concern since the fall of the Somali government in 1991. According to Gary E. Weir, author of “Fish, Family, and Profit: Piracy and the Horn of Africa,” piracy has increased by nearly 168% since the turn of the century. Delving further into the issue, it has become apparent that one of the main causes of this increase in piracy is the dumping of toxic waste off the Somali coast.
            After the Somali government collapsed, “…mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean,” says Johann Hari, columnist of the London Independent. Sickness soon followed in the population around the coast as people contracted rashes, and nausea from the polluted water. To make things worse in 2005 a tsunami hit the shore of Somalia, bringing with it hundreds of dumped barrels from the depths of the ocean. Many acquired radiation poisoning, and more than 300 died.
            It is this illegal dumping of nuclear and toxic materials that have fueled many fisherman to convert to piracy. The pollution has limited fishing in the area, and foreign ships have been looting the fish that are salvageable. Hari states, “More than $300m worth of tuna, shrimp, lobster and other sea-life is being stolen every year by vast trawlers illegally sailing into Somalia's unprotected seas. The local fishermen have suddenly lost their livelihoods, and they are starving.” In an attempt to gain their waters back, Somali fishermen are taking action against those who steal from and pollute their waters.

Hari, Johann. "You Are Being Lied to About Pirates." The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 4 Jan. 2009. Web. 06 Mar. 2011. <>.
Weir, Gary E. "Fish, Family, and Profit: Piracy and the Horn of Africa." Naval War College Press, 2009. Web. 06 Mar. 2011. <>.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Effects of Somali Piracy on East Africa A Personal Account

By: Anonymous
            As we stated earlier, much of the piracy by Somali’s is caused by lack of decent economic and living standards for the majority of the population which is intern caused by the dumping of waste off the Somali Coast. What is more important though is how the Somali Pirate’s activities affect the nations surrounding it. One of the contributors to this blog has lived much of their life in East Africa and knows people who have been affected by it both directly and indirectly.
Directly, Somali Piracy has drastically reduced tourism on the East African coast to places like Mombasa, Lamu, Dar es Salaam and Malindi as many of the tourists believe that they can be caught up in it and be hijacked by the pirates. This affects countries like Kenya and Tanzania which proudly earn its largest portions of foreign exchange through tourism to their “under commercialized” white sandy beaches.
With the media portraying the Somali Pirates activities as sporadic and not in a concentrated area (i.e. the area of the coast of Somalia) it directly affects the number of westerners who want to come to the coast of East Africa for a vacation, especially when Spain or the Caribbean might be is closer.
Indirectly though, Somali Piracy has both negatives and positives. The money earned through ransoms paid to many of the pirates is said to be legitimized in countries like Kenya, Yemen and Tanzania. In other words, in order to make the money the pirates earn through ransoms is made legal in these countries through purchasing of assets, such as stocks, bonds or real estate in these countries due to their lax regulations and from here the money can be transferred to nearly any corner of the world.
By legitimizing their money in Yemen, Kenya or Tanzania, the pirates not only help themselves, but also these economies since they are increasing investment into these countries which many who benefit from it, like mutual funds, property developers, stock brokers and banks seem to not have a problem with. Unless this issue is tackled, it could get worse.


            Axe, David. "Why the Somali Pirates Are Winning." The Guardian, 9 Apr. 2009. Web. 01 Mar. 2011.