Somalia: Looking For Volunteers To Invade


February 18, 2011: More nations are calling for going ashore in Somalia, as the Somali pirates simply use captured fishing ships (carrying or towing speedboats for attacks) to go deeper into the Indian Ocean to avoid the international anti-piracy patrol. The pirates are winning, and the shipping companies don't want the Indian Ocean turned into a pirate hunting ground. But none of the major nations, that have troops and the ability to put them ashore in Somalia, are willing to conduct such an operation. Yet. But meanwhile, more clan leaders are organizing pirate operations, and seizing ocean going fishing ships for use as mother ships that can seek victims as far as the coast of India, and beyond. The international anti-piracy patrol is responding by sending commandos to take back some ships (like large oil tankers). This is risky, but not taking risks is only making the piracy situation worse.

Some of the crews of captured fishing ships have admitted that they agreed to willingly help the pirates (by operating their ship) in return for promises of freedom after a certain number of days-at-sea or attacks. This is often the best deal a fishing ship crew can get, if the fishing ship belongs to a company that cannot afford any kind of ransom the pirates find worthwhile.

Indian Ocean nations are more likely to prosecute captured pirates, rather than just have their warships disarm and release them. Malaysia is prosecuting seven pirates, and the penalty for piracy in Malaysia is death by hanging. Shipping companies are becoming louder in their calls for raids on the ports that pirates use as bases. This puts hundreds of captive merchant sailors at risk. But without landing troops and capturing those bases, the piracy will only grow. The larger nations that could land and destroy the pirate bases continue to find the higher shipping costs (ransoms, guards, insurance, extra fuel to avoid pirates) preferable to a war against the pirates on land. The Western nations are advising Indian Ocean nations (especially India) to organize an invasion force themselves if they find that the only solution to the growing piracy problem. The Indians have long claimed to be the regional superpower, and the Western nations are advising them to take this opportunity to prove it. Western nations would provide support, and even supply some of the troops (commandos and other specialists). But India would have to step up and take the lead. India considers this unfair, as most of the shipping passing through the Indian Ocean is non-Indian. What might force the hand of India is Chinese willingness to get more aggressive against the pirates.

Fighting in Mogadishu continues, sporadically, with the Islamic radicals sniping at peacekeepers and government troops while hiding among civilians, causing dozens of civilians to be killed or wounded by return fire each week. The months of failure in Mogadishu is causing morale and control problems in al Shabaab. The main problem is that al Shabaab is heavily influenced by several hundred foreign Islamic radicals. Most of these guys are basically gunmen, but dozens are leaders, and they demand better performance (and willingness to die) from Al Shabaab Somalis than the Somalis are willing to provide. There are a growing number of Somalis deserting al Shabaab, some of them coming over to the government. In response, the foreign Islamic radicals are imposing more discipline, via shooting, and even killing, Somali members who do not demonstrate sufficient enthusiasm.

In Somaliland, clan fighting is causing the national armed forces to suffer defections because of divided loyalties (several hundred national troops went back to their clan militia because of a clan feud.) This dispute, in eastern Somaliland, has caused thousands of villagers to flee their homes to avoid the gunfire.

February 17, 2011: Islamic radical group Hizbul Islam has seized several pirate leaders in the central Somalia port of Haradhere. This is the only pirate base outside Puntland, and the Islamic radicals have allowed the pirates to keep operating in return for a share of ransoms taken. The current dispute is over how much of a cut the Islamic radicals are supposed to get.

February 15, 2011: In Mogadishu, TNG (Transitional National Government) troops opened fire on a peace rally, killing four people. The TNG are poorly disciplined, and prone to open fire on civilians suspected of being hostile.

February 13, 2011: A Danish warship seized a pirate mother ship, and freed the civilian crew who were forced to operate the ship for the pirates. These mother ships are high value targets for the counter-piracy patrol, and are usually detected by the presence of two or more speedboats and the lack of fishing activity, or too many people on board (pirates in addition to the crew).

February 12, 2011: A British warship seized a Yemeni fishing boat that had been captured by pirates for use as a mother ship. The 17 pirates were disarmed, but the British frigate captain was ordered to take the pirates back to Somalia and put them on the beach, because British prosecutors felt there was not a strong enough case to put the pirates on trial.




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