Somalia: UN Opposition To Punishing Pirates

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December 12,2008: Violence continues in Mogadishu, as pro and anti-Islamic radical clans fight for control of the city. At least one large group of pro-Islamic radical (Shebab) gunmen is wandering around central Somalia, raiding towns controlled by anti-Islamic radical clans.

Uganda and Burundi want to withdraw their peacekeeping troops from Mogadishu as soon as possible. The UN has been unable to obtain additional peacekeepers to replace the 2,000 Ethiopians that will withdraw by next month, and the 3,400 Ugandan and Burundi troops do not want to be left in the chaotic city all by themselves. Meanwhile, the Transitional National Government (TNG) has largely fallen apart. After several years of effort, and international support (especially from southern neighbor Kenya) the TNG has lost most (at least 80 percent) of the 15,000 soldiers and police that foreign aid paid to equip and train. The men have gone back to their clans and warlords, taking their uniforms and weapons with them.

Kenya has agreed to accept, and prosecute, pirates arrested off the coast of Somalia. The pirates will be tried under Kenyan law, but foreign countries will provide money to help pay for the proceedings.

December 11, 2008: The U.S. is proposing that the UN authorize members to "take all necessary measures ashore in Somalia" to deal with the pirates.  Many African, and Arab, UN members oppose such a blanket permission, fearing it would lead to many Somali civilian casualties.

December 10, 2008: Somali pirates seized two Yemeni fishing ships, and 17 crew members. But seven fishermen escaped in a small boat to report the seizures off the Yemeni coast, near the port of Aden.

December 6, 2008: Islamic radical (Shebab) raided the town of 370 kilometers north of Mogadishu. There were several dozen casualties.  Meanwhile, Somali pirates continue to operate far into the Indian ocean, as two speed boats tried, and failed to take a large container ship 800 kilometers off the coast of Tanzania (which is south of Somalia's southern neighbor Kenya). This is apparently the same gang that seized a Saudi oil tanker last month. The two speed boats were towed by a larger mother ship, which is patrolling the sea lanes for ships too large for the Suez canal, and that must go around South Africa. The crew of the container ship could see the mother ship, a large fishing boat,  in the distance.

December 5, 2008: A Danish warship rescued seven men found drifting in the Gulf of Aden in a speedboat with a broken outboard engine. The seven were armed with AK-47s and RPGs. These were confiscated and the speedboat was sunk. The men were obviously pirates, but because they were not attacking anyone when the Danes found them, the Danes could not arrest them. The seven pirates were handed over to the Yemeni coast guard, which probably means these Somalis are out of the piracy business for good.

 

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