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Sea Transportation: Anything But That
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January 22, 2011: The Somali piracy problem is not going away, despite years of efforts by an every-growing international anti-piracy patrol off the East African coast and the Indian Ocean. Since 2005, the average ship (and crew) ransom has increased over ten times (from $150,000). Thus overall cost of Somali piracy has increased to more than $5 billion a year. Most of the cost is from addition expenses for ships staying at sea longer as they avoid going anywhere near Somalia. This has cost Egypt over 20 percent of the traffic through the Suez canal, which amounts to over a billion dollars a year in lost revenue. The anti-piracy patrol costs nearly a billion dollars a year, but most of the extra costs hit the shipping companies, and their customers, who pay more for ships spending more time at sea, or the expense of additional security measures.

Although the Somali pirates are Moslems, and threaten the Moslem nations in the region, none of those Moslem nations is willing to carry out the only solution that would end the problem. That is, landing troops and taking control of the coastal towns and villages the pirates use as bases. As the pirates more frequently move into the Red Sea, they threaten great damage to the economies of Sudan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But none of these countries is eager to take on the Somali pirates on land. Everyone is calling for "the world" (non-Moslem nations) to contribute ships and soldiers to deal with the problem. But no one is willing to put troops ashore, and end up spending more than $5 billion a year fighting the fractious and aggressive Somalis.


Next Article → COUNTER-TERRORISM: The Tunisia Factor

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DavidE    Putting troops ashore won't work   1/22/2011 8:17:52 PM
The pirates will scatter, you'll shoot up a few, and then
they'll resume.  It's not like they wear uniforms, anyway.  
How will you even know whom to shoot at?  We should
probably board and search everything that looks like
a mothership, and confiscate the ship if anything looks
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h0sten    land war unneeded   1/23/2011 1:54:06 AM
The Western nations or even a country like Egypt alone could solve the problem by sinking every Somali vessel that puts to sea, ever, for any reason. Fly up and down the coast sinking Somali boats 24/7 until the problem stops. Nobody will do it because of inevitable racism accusations.
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georgert       1/24/2011 1:08:01 AM
Granted the Somalis have some legitimate grievances concerning illegal dumping and depradation of their fisheries, however, the immediate problem is the increased incidence of hostage taking and the seizure of merchant ships. Shipping firms consider the cost of ransom insurance chump change and just something to deal with financially, however, little is ever said about the anguish borne by hostages and their families. Ransom payments have done nothing but encourage more attacks on shipping and allow pirate leaders to acquire better arms, improve organization and logistics.  Naval forces in the area are spread too thin to create a significant deterrent. Passive defense techniques such as the use of LRADs or fire hoses on board merchant shipping has often times been ineffectual. Until institutional reluctance to condone armed security teams or crew members trained and willing to use deadly force is overcome, attacks will continue with ever increasing consequence to international commerce. Few think that any coalition of countries will take on the task of invading the coastal pirate redoubts and attempt to pacify and administer the territory. The most effective solution will ultimately be that of self defense. During WWII merchant ships were at least somewhat prepared to defend themselves, and against much heavier odds. Commercial shipping should be again. Until the costs of piracy in terms of the numbers of lost pirate boat crews and mother ships far outweigh the benefit of ransom payments, the plague of piracy will continue.
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