Somalia: Running From The Media


April 23, 2009: Lacking a legal system that can deal with pirates, or willingness to fight the brigands, Western nations are now demanding that shipping companies stop paying ransoms, and are considering bribing the warlords running the Transitional National Government (TNG, now run by more moderate Islamic radicals), Somaliland and Puntland (where most of the pirates are based) to go after the pirates. The problem is that there is no real government in Somalia, just attempts by various collections of warlords to work out power sharing deals. Giving money to these "governments" has a high risk of sparking more fighting because of disagreements over how the financial aid should be divided. The shipping companies will not stop paying ransoms, because they don't want to take the media heat for "abandoning" their employees. Demands that nations dependent on sea transportation send troops ashore and destroy the pirate bases, are ignored. No one wants to take the media heat for "committing war crimes" against Somali civilians the Somali gunmen frequently use as human shields.

The TNG advises that by not paying ransoms, and by giving the TNG several hundred million dollars (to build up their security forces), the piracy problem would go away. Previous efforts to give the TNG aid money had failed because most of the cash was stolen by the TNG leadership.

The pirates have attacked 80 ships this year, and currently hold 17 (and about 300 crew). The pirates will sometimes give discounts. On April 14th, a Lebanese ship, captured while on its way to India to pick up 7,000 tons of food for starving Somalis, was released after the payment of only $100,000. This was arranged by Somali clan leaders and merchants, who apparently threatened the pirates with "traditional justice" if they did not take the deal. Somalis will attack and steal ships bringing in foreign aid (food, medicine and other goods to be distributed for free to needy Somalis), and the donor nations have increasingly provided warships to escort the aid. Much of it is stolen anyway, once ashore, even though the foreign aid groups try to use bribes to hire guards to keep the bandits away.

April 22, 2009: There are about fifty European ocean going fishing boats operating within 1,500 kilometers of the Somali coast, and they are asking for protection from pirates. None of these fishing ships are within Somali's "economic zone" (about 360 kilometers from the Somali coast), but the pirates are now going 1,500 kilometers or more from Somalia looking for victims.

April 21, 2009: The UN has halted its effort to send peacekeepers to Somalia. The newly elected TNG leadership opposes foreign peacekeepers.

April 20, 2009: In the central Somalia town of Beledweyn, gunmen from the Islamic Courts and Islamic radical group Hezbul Islam, leaving ten dead and over 30 wounded. Meanwhile, the principal Islamic radical group, al Shabaab, denounced the TNG vote to establish Sharia law throughout the land, as a deception and fraud. The TNG adopted Sharia in order to reduce the power of al Shabaab, which has always demanded the adoption of Sharia.

April 19, 2009: In central Somalia, a group of armed men kidnapped two foreign aid workers (employed by Doctors Without Borders), and are demanding a ransom of over a million dollars for their release. Nearby, another foreign aid worker was shot dead outside a mosque.

April 18, 2009: The Somali government (TNG) parliament has passed a law establishing Sharia (Islamic) law as the legal system to be used for criminal and civil problems.




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