Somalia: The Pirates Have A Plan B

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June 3, 2011: As pirates operate farther (2,000 kilometers or more) from Somalia, a larger number of ships must pay additional piracy premiums on their insurance policies. This is already costing shipping companies more than $3 billion a year in higher insurance costs, and that will more than double soon if the pirate activity continues to increase. While the total costs of Somali piracy are only increasing shipping cost worldwide by less than one percent, the costs keep rising. Locally, especially for East African nations, the cost is much higher. Thus these nations, and those with the largest shipping fleets (like China) are calling for "the historic solution" to piracy (attacking, destroying or occupying the coastal towns pirates use as bases). The rest of the world isn't ready for that kind of violence yet. Moreover, NATO, and African, military commanders believe that the pirates would not be easy to defeat. If driven from the coast, they would still get to sea (pretending to be fishermen) and kidnap crews of ships, leaving the ships adrift (since they would no longer have safe anchorages to store them off the Somali coast, while a ransom was negotiated). But the pirates would still have kidnapped sailors, held inland. Foreign troops have never had an easy time operating in the Somali hinterlands.

The United States has been the largest donor of humanitarian aid to Somalia (over a billion dollars worth since 1991), but the big problem isn't shipping food and other aid to the Somali border, but getting it to those who need it inside Somalia. Al Shabaab, warlords and anyone else with a gun feels that it is their right to grab as much of that aid as they can. Thus, in a few cases, entire shipments (truck convoys) never reach their intended recipients (starving Somalis.) In the last 18 months, the U.S. has pledged, or tried to deliver, $80 million in aid.

June 2, 2011: In Mogadishu, AU and TNG forces advanced into a major al Shabaab held area (including a major market place). There were over fifty casualties and al Shabaab has been falling back.

June 1, 2011: Uganda has demanded that the current TNG (Transitional National Government) be given another year to get their act together. Uganda feels that trying to select another TNG in the next few months would just make the TNG even less effective. This would be a bad time for that, as  just now the AU (African Union) peacekeepers and TNG forces have al Shabaab on the run. Uganda insists that if the new TNG elections (selections, actually) go ahead, Ugandan peacekeepers (64 percent of the total force) would be withdrawn. Uganda feels that disrupting the TNG now would put Ugandan troops at more risk.

May 30, 2011: An al Shabaab suicide attack on an AU base in Mogadishu killed four (including the bomber). Al Shabaab later claimed that the attack was carried out by a Somali immigrant recruited in the United States.

 

 

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