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Xavier Cromartie

Somali Pirates

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Today's privateer news:


1. George W. Bush adds to his legacy of successes, valiantly defending Americans on cruise ships from evil pirates. (Source: USA Today.)


The Bush administration is talking up a plan to take on the Somali pirates threatening cruise ships and other vessels in the Gulf of Aden -- not only at sea, but on land and in Somalian air space.


The Associated Press reports the United States circulated a draft United Nations Security Council resolution Wednesday that says nations and regional groups "may take all necessary measures ashore in Somalia."


The proposal marks one of the Bush administration's last major foreign policy initiatives, and the Associated Press notes that if the U.S. military gets involved, it would mark a dramatic turnabout in policy.

The Associated Press says the U.S. proposal to take on the pirates will be presented at a United Nations session on Somalia Tuesday. The proposal says that for a year nations "may take all necessary measures ashore in Somalia, including in its airspace, to interdict those who are using Somali territory to plan, facilitate or undertake acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea and to otherwise prevent those activities."


Though a number of countries have sent naval forces to the region to stop the piracy, the efforts have been considered "very uncoordinated' so far, a U.S. official told the Associated Press.

This idea is not what Nasr Ibn Othmann had in mind when he suggested acting honorably for once.


2. ‘We are hungry. There is no government, no economy, so it is a good way to earn money’ (Source: The Times.)


There's an interesting bit of news in this one:

“I am going to continue. We are experienced and have the expertise to hijack ships without being captured.”


Piracy is the fastest growing industry in Somalia, especially in the northeast. At one of the pirates’ meetings in Eyl, they discussed plans to train special forces to target a French ship “to teach a lesson” to the French Government.


In April this year French commandos carried out a helicopter raid on Somali pirates after they released hostages from a luxury yacht. Six of the pirates suspected to have taken part were seized and are now in Paris awaiting trial.


The pirates’ meeting ended on an upbeat note: “We have to show our capabilities of capturing ships anywhere in the world so that others would not act the same way the French did,” a leader of the gang shouted.

Mr. Bush also needs a lesson.

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Today's privateer news:


1. Fortunately, there are some rational Americans out there.



U.S. Vice Adm. Bill Gortney told reporters that striking pirate camps presents problems because it is difficult to identify them and the potential for killing innocent civilians "cannot be overestimated."


In a wide-ranging interview at his 5th Fleet headquarters, Gortney said such strikes are an effort to go for an easy military solution to a problem. He says the better solutions are to improve the security, stability and government in Somalia, and to clear up legal hurdles so that militaries that capture pirates can detain them and bring them to trial.

He's still using America-centric thinking, but it's better than "I regret to inform you that U.S. policy now dictates we bomb the fuck out of you." (MNFTIU.)


We have a lot of Somali Americans here in Minnesota.[1] I'm pleased to see this bit in an AFP article:

The Minnesota-based activist group Somali Justice Advocacy Center expressed "grave concern" Thursday on the prospect of taking the fight inland, describing the resolution effort as a "futile exercise" since Somalia is largely controlled by warlords and extremist militias.


"I find that not only odd but illegal and a clear violation of the code of the international law," said the group's director Omar Jamal.

2. Can we expect other Minnesotans to show such an understanding? Let's look at an opinion piece entitled "Yet another anchor dragging us down: Pirates" in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune by Ms. Yoshi Ludwig, "Gustavus Adolphus College B.A. (magna cum laude), major: Political Science, minor: Philosophy, 2003 — 2007."[2] (Why did she use an em dash instead of an en dash?)


Today we worry about pirates for international security reasons -- more specifically, Somali pirates who ship arms to Islamic terrorists -- but the economic implications of a less-than-secure ocean remain largely unchanged.
Please show me a source for this claim. Otherwise, it is libel. Also, the phrase in bold reminds me of Nasr Ibn Othmann's statement about "the blatant racism that underpins the usage of words like Somali Pirates, or Islamic Pirates."[3]


On the security side, if it is normal for fishermen to own and fire guns with RPGs, it is a chance for the United States and its allies to review the role of the Navy.
Yes, fishermen have to protect themselves in an unsafe country. And from the foreign vessels that attack the fishermen if the fishermen interfere with the foreigners' looting of Somali waters.[4]


Moving for an international naval effort against pirates may seem less important than sending troops to Afghanistan. But with 75 percent of the world covered in water and with improvements in seafaring, the seas seem just as important of a security concern.
Yeah, there hasn't been a major terrorist attack since, what, two weeks ago? Or was it one week? 75 percent of the world is covered in water, folks. Let's get some warships to the Arctic Ocean.


Greater naval presence on the seas would also encourage responsible trade, as it would enable governments to hold companies accountable for their actions -- for example, cracking down on European and Asian companies that dump nuclear materials into Somali coastlines. Even if the companies may have paid for their "right" to dump, the rest of us pay a high price for those toxins, because they force Somali fishermen to choose between a life dependent on foreign aid and the life of a pirate.
Hmm, that phrase sounds familiar:


The UN envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, said last October that the UN has "reliable information that European and Asian companies are dumping toxic waste, including nuclear waste, off the Somali coastline."
You're soooo smart, Ms. Ludwig. And we have seen that those countries are not ready to start "acting honorably" about the illegal dumping.


LOL at "the rest of us pay a high price for those toxins." As I quoted in a previous post, from that article that Ms. Ludwig didn't cite:


According to a United Nations report, many coastal residents suffered "acute respiratory infections, heavy coughing, bleeding gums and mouth, abdominal haemorrhages, unusual skin rashes, and even death."
But, Somalis don't pay a high price. "The rest of us" do. Because, you know, Islamic pirate-terrorism and such.

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Today's privateer news:


1. The major story is that the Indian navy continues to be aggressive toward privateers.


Indian navy detains 23 pirates in Gulf Of Aden, saving cargo vessel (Source: AHN.)


New Delhi, India (AHN) - The India officials said Saturday that the navy has detained 23 pirates, who were trying to capture a merchant vessel off the Gulf of Aden.


INS Mysore, an Indian navy ship, was escorting merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, when the ship received a distress call from MV Gibe (Ethiopian Flag) early Saturday.


MV Gibe reported that their vessel was under attack by two boats closing her and firing small arms, following which MV Gibe opened retaliatory fire with small arms that were held onboard the vessel.


The Indian navy ship altered its course to close MV Gibe and also launched her integral armed helicopter.


"On sighting the helicopter and Mysore, the boats disengaged from MV Gibe and attempted escape. Mysore closed the vessels and ordered them to stop," the Indian government said in a statement on Saturday.


"The larger boat was a dhow was of green colour and 8-10m in length. It had taken the second smaller boat (a skiff) under tow."


The Marine Commandos searched the dhow and arrested including 23 personnel, including 12 Somali and 11 Yemeni, on board.


The search also revealed a substantial cache of arms and equipment, including seven AK-47 and three other automatic rifles, along with thirteen loaded magazines; a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher along with rockets, cartridges and grenades; as many as three Outboard Motors (OBMs) and a GPS Receiver, the government said.

In this case, the INS Mysore performed its duty of escorting and protecting merchant vessels. The privateers were stopped in the act of attacking but before they had taken control of the Gibe. But, when the privateers fled, India chose to "detain" them. I've seen other headlines use different terms, e.g., "capture"[1][2] and "arrest."[3] I wonder if it would be most accurately described as an "abduction."[4]


I think that the real headline of this article is the fact that 12 Somalis and 11 Yemenis were working together. We've seen many hints of Yemeni involvement in the past.


2. Another Greek ship, the MV Action, has been released after two months. (Source: Xinhua.)


"MV Action was released by pirates. She is currently limping to safe waters. It is feared that three crew members lost their lives under questionable circumstances," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone.


However, Mwangura did not say whether owners of the Panama-flagged ship paid a ransom for the release of the vessel and how the three crew members died.

We will need to follow up on this story, but this Andrew Mwangura fellow doesn't sound very reliable. "Limping" is so dramatic. He sounds like another anti-Somali propagandist.


Edit: I retract the statement that he sounds like another anti-Somali propagandist. I believe he understands the situation.

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Today's privateer news:


1. The Mindanao Examiner (Philippines) provides a bit more information about what happened on the Action.


In the mystery surrounding the case of the MT ACTION local reports speak of a suicide of the Georgian chief engineer, which occured 6 days before the release of the ship. Out of desperation that the ship and crew would not be released the man is said to have jumped from the highest point into the engine room, where he died. Thereafter a tug-boat from Mombasa was finally launched to deliver the ransom. The vessel was released on 12th December but due to its engine problems requested a naval escort. It is not known if that escort was provided and since initial reports spoke of 3 crew-members having died, further investigations are underway.
And so, the privateers did get their ransom, and I expect that they were not responsible for any deaths, if there were any others. As for the Georgian engineer, I guess we can call him a "basket case."


2. British minister: Somalia is a 'basket case' (Source: AP.)


British Defense Secretary John Hutton said Sunday the world must help restore effective government in Somalia to stop it from becoming a haven for terrorists. But he said it is too early to say whether foreign troops should be deployed.


Hutton told BBC radio he believes Somalia could become a terrorist refuge like Afghanistan before the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.


"Somalia is a basket case," Hutton said. "It is a classic area where you have got ungoverned space, no effective state apparatus and criminality and potential terrorism."

Hutton, speaking at a security conference in Bahrain, said he is concerned about the uses to which the millions of dollars in ransoms being collected by pirates could be put.


"We don't want that money to be used to fund insurgencies or terrorism around the world," he said.


But he said Britain has no information that Somali pirates have links to terrorist or Islamic extremist groups.

I find this way of thinking to be outrageous. If/when we start to see foreign countries' raiding Eyl and Harardhere, are Mr. Bush and Mr. Gates going to give us this excuse that "pirates could potentially fund terrorism"? Americans would readily accept it. A few days ago, I read the following snippets in an editorial from the Grand Rapids Press:


Somali pirates pose a serious and growing threat to lives and international trade.

An effective strategy is necessary before something more violent -- and deadly -- occurs.

Contrast those quotes with this quote from Nasr Ibn Othmann:[1]


How can the Somali nation require food aid when the providential maritime resources of the Somali nation can sustain the theft of US$300 million worth of fish each year?

Isn't it, in fact, the foreign vessels that pose a serious and growing threat to (Somali) lives and (Somalia's ability to participate in) international trade?

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No, I would not say that the privateers' primary motive for capturing ships is 'the good of the Somali people.' They are trying to earn money for themselves in order to survive. But, they also sincerely and rightfully want the illegal dumping and trawling to cease. The foreign vessels' disgraceful actions make it not just difficult but dangerous for Somalis to attempt to earn money as fishermen.


They do not desire to hurt the crews, and so they are not an international security threat. They depart honorably after they receive their ransoms. As for being a shipping threat, not many ships get captured. "Statistically from January to the end of November ... just in the area north of Somalia, your chances of getting pirated were 0.14 percent."[1] For the ships that do get captured, the privateers are a threat only to time-sensitive goods like cement and to the few dozen wealthy ship owners' wallets. They do not steal the ships' contents like Indonesian pirates frequently do.

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Today's privateer news:


1. I was skeptical of the report from RIA Novosti two weeks ago that the Sirius Star would be released soon, because the Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman denied that they would negotiate or pay a ransom. Today's headline in the Saudi Gazette: ‘Deal on ransom, Sirius to be freed’


Somali pirates are likely to release the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star within 72 hours since a ransom deal has been struck, a source said Monday without revealing the ransom amount.

The negotiators on behalf of the owners of the Sirius Star have agreed to pay a ransom,” Abubakr Dari, one of the negotiators, said by telephone.

Representatives of Saudi Aramco subsidiary Vela International, which owns the supertanker, have been in contact with tribesmen and the pirates’ representatives in the Somali port of Harardhere.

Dari said the supertanker is anchored in Somalia’s Habio Port, 25 km away from Harardhere. All the 25 crew members were well and even allowed to make phone calls to their relatives, he said, adding that an American woman is among the negotiators for Vela International.

However, Yusuf Adso, secretary general of the Somali Foreign Ministry, said “there is no certain information” about a deal but a “massive effort involving a heavy presence of Somali tribesmen is being exerted to release the supertanker in the next few days.”

According to unconfirmed reports, the ransom amount has come down from an initial $25 million to $3.5 million.

2. After some consideration, I've decided to award excellent article status to the following article from BlackState that responds to the 5 December 2008 opinion piece in The New York Times by Douglas R. Burgess, Jr. entitled 'Piracy is terrorism':


Piracy is not terrorism: it's something else

Burgess asked this question: "Are the Somali pirates ordinary criminals, or a quasi-military force?" It's a good question. Unfortunately, the question does not speak to the issue of piracy or terrorism, and Burgess himself does not answer the question. The answer to the question is that the Somali pirates are not "ordinary criminals, or a quasi-military force." More to the issue at hand, piracy is not terrorism. They are two different things and are committed by perpetrators who have very different motives.


Burgess claimed that pirates and terrorists are the same by arguing that their "crimes involve bands of brigands that divorce themselves from their nation-states and form extraterritorial enclaves; both aim at civilians; both involve acts of homicide and destruction […] 'for private ends.'" This characterization or definition is not accurate.


Terrorism is usually defined as violence to human life and/or property and is intended to intimidate or coerce civilian populations and/or to influence the policy of governments. Terrorist acts, more often than not, have political motives. Piracy on the high seas, on the other hand, does not have these characteristics. Piracy, generally, is not done to intimidate a government to change policy or cause harm or frighten a civilian population. Furthermore, piracy, more often than not, has commercial, business, or monetary motives—not political.


The Somali pirates don't care about the consequences of Ukraine's, or Saudi Arabia's foreign policy. These are two of the countries whose ships have been seized by the pirates. Terrorist organizations, including as al-Qaeda, do care about the consequences of various countries' foreign policies.


In addition to his mischaracterization, Burgess offered two examples to support his claim that pirates and terrorists must be classified as one in the same. He pointed out that in the 1970s, the United Nations defined hijacking of airliners as "aerial piracy." He also pointed to the 1985 seizure of the cruise ship Achille Lauro as an example because President Ronald Reagan called the Palestinian terrorists who seized the Achille Lauro "pirates."


Again, Burgess is wrong within the context of his own argument because he conflated pirates with terrorists. Both of these cases were terrorist acts, not piracy. The United Nations defining the act of hijacking airliners "aerial piracy" does not necessarily make the hijackers "pirates." Hijacking an airliner for political reason is terrorism irrespective of the 1970s United Nations' definition. The Palestinians who seized the Achille Lauro had political motives, not commercial motives; thus, they were "terrorists," not "pirates."

I completely dismiss calling the Somalis "terrorists." I'm interested in (1) whether they should be considered pirates or privateers and (2) if their actions are illegal, whether any government other than Somalia's should have the right to pursue, detain, and try them.

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'Somali pirates seize 2 vessels in Gulf of Aden'



Somali pirates on Tuesday seized a tugboat operated by the French oil company Total and a Turkish cargo ship, as the U.N. anti-crime agency called for a special maritime police force for the insecure Gulf of Aden coastline.

An official with the Yemen-based Total SA confirmed the latest hijacking, saying the seized tugboat had a crew of Indonesians and other nationalities and was on its way from the southern Yemeni port of Mukalla to Malaysia when it was seized.

In Paris, Total spokesman Kevin Church said that a tugboat and a barge were hijacked but stressed that they were not Total's boats. They belong to a subcontractor, he said, and are not believed to be carrying oil.


The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet could not confirm the tugboat seizure, but did say M/V Bosphorus Prodigy, owned by the Istanbul-based Isko Marine Company, had also been seized by pirates Tuesday, according spokesman Lt. Nathan Christensen.


The three-ton container ship is 330 feet (100 meters) long and carries the flag of Antigua-Barbuda.


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Today's privateer news:


Today was the day that the UN voted on the Bush/Rice resolution to allow other nations to "take all necessary measures that are appropriate” against the privateers. The resolution passed unanimously, 15-0.[1][2]


Instead of relying solely on the media articles, I wanted to take a direct look at the actual wording of the UN resolution. I didn't expect that the resolution would be the longest run-on sentence ever. The key part:


In response to the letter from the TFG of 9 December 2008, encourages Member States to continue to cooperate with the TFG in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea, notes the primary role of the TFG in rooting out piracy and armed robbery at sea, and decides that for a period of twelve months from the date of adoption of resolution 1846, States and regional organizations cooperating in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia for which advance notification has been provided by the TFG to the Secretary-General may undertake all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia, for the purpose of suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, pursuant to the request of the TFG, provided, however, that any measures undertaken pursuant to the authority of this paragraph shall be undertaken consistent with applicable international humanitarian and human rights law;
The media deemphasized the parts about the TFG's involvement. Quotes about the TFG:


The Mindanao Examiner (Philippines):

In 2006, the Bush administration supported an alliance of Somali warlords known as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that established a base of operations in the western city of Baidoa. With the help of the Ethiopian army, western mercenaries, US Navy warships, and AC-130 gunships; the TFG captured Mogadishu and forced the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) to retreat to the south. Since then the resistance has coalesced into a tenacious guerrilla army that has recaptured most of the country.


The Bush administration invoked the war on terror to justify its involvement in Somalia, but their case was weak and full of inconsistencies. The ICU is not an Al Qaida affiliate or a terrorist organization despite the claims of the State Department. In fact, the ICU brought a high level of peace and stability to Somalia that hadn't been seen for more than sixteen years.

Somali Musings:

It is now becoming more apparent, with each passing day, that the Western powers have resigned themselves to accept the fact that the Somali people shall never submit to the illegitimate rule of the TFG. The dishonourable octogenarian, Cabdullahi Yusuf Axmed, President of the Somali TFG, in a rare moment of clarity, has publicly admitted that the TFG is on the verge of imploding.


Indeed, the removal of the murderous TFG is in the national interest of the Somali people. The Somali people need, more than anything else at present, the full restoration of public security. It is very evident that the TFG cannot provide the people of Somalia with this most vital of public services

Somali Musings:

For many years, the creation of a malleable Somali government had clearly been a most desirable outcome from the perspective of the United States Department of State, and by association, the governments of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda. Indeed, during recent years, and especially since the creation of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, as a result of the Nairobi process in 2004, we have witnessed a marked deterioration of the quality of life for the civilian population of Somalia.


The creation of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, in 2004, has proven to an unmitigated disaster from the perspective of the civilian population of Somalia. Acts of terrible violence have almost become a daily part of life for the civilian population of Somalia, and these acts of violence are a direct reaction to the presence of the much-hated Transitional Federal Government of Somalia on Somali soil. Can we really be surprised by the fact that the civilian population of Somalia resoundingly rejects a body, in the shape of the TFG, formed in neighbouring Kenya?


The president of the TFG, the quisling Cabdullahi Yusuf Axmed, has made every effort imaginable to facilitate the annexation of all Somali national territory by the neighbouring states of Kenya and Ethiopia. Why else does he persistently call for the arrival of more foreign troops to assist him in his nefarious plans? Clearly this man does not serve in the best interests of the Somali people. And is it any wonder that an increasingly youthful army of patriotic volunteers is resisting the ideas of president Cabdullahi Yusuf Axmed so vigorously?


The bitter experiences of the Iraqi civilian population, in recent times, provide enough evidence of the brutal methods being used by foreign troops. This particularly grim evidence is reason enough to support the idea that the occupying foreign troops are to be resisted at all costs by the Somali people. Reason should be allowed to prevail here. It is painfully obvious that the Somali civilians desire peace to prevail in their homeland, but, at the same time, it is quite obvious that the Somali people cannot abide by the idea that foreign troops are currently occupying their sacred homeland. For this reason, it is entirely reasonable that a long-suffering civilian population should wish for the demise of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia.


The illegal nature of president Cabdullahi Yusuf Axmed’s request for foreign troops to be deployed inside Somali national territory, and his foolish request for foreign warships to patrol Somali national waters is nothing more than an invitation for the spread of neo-colonial rule in Africa.

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U.N. Authorizes Land, Air Attacks on Somali Pirates

International Effort to Secure Sea Route May Stumble Amid Political Disarray in East African Nation


By Colum Lynch

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 17, 2008; Page A14


UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 16 -- The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize nations to conduct military raids, on land and by air, against pirates plying the waters off the Somalia coast even as two more ships were reportedly hijacked at sea.


The vote represented a major escalation by the world's big powers in the fight against the pirates, who have disrupted commerce along one of the world's most active sea routes and acquired tens of millions of dollars in ransom. It came as China -- which has had several ships commandeered in recent months -- said it is seriously considering joining U.S., European and Russian warships policing the region.


The U.S.-drafted resolution authorizes nations to "use all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia" in pursuit of pirates, as long as they are approved by the country's transitional federal government. The resolution also urges states to deploy naval vessels and military aircraft to carry out the operations, and it calls for the creation of a regional office to coordinate the international effort...




Read the whole thing.

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Small question: aren't privateers just pirates that were authorized by their government to attack other ships?


How can they be privateers if there is no government? Or do you just not want to use the word pirate due to it's negative connotations?

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Basically yes. But pirates are considered criminals whereas privateers are considered patriots. The issue is whether these Somalis are criminals or patriots.


I wrote in the "My Final Exam" thread that "I would say that Somalis, who are "desperate to survive,"[1] are authorized by the Xeer and the Puntland regional government[1] to act as privateers in response to the illegal toxic dumping and trawling off of their coastline."[2]


Note these aspects of the Xeer:

Because property right requires compensation, rather than punishment, there is no imprisonment, and fines are rare. Such fines as might be imposed seldom exceed the amount of compensation and are not payable to any court or government, but directly to the victim. A fine might be in order when, for example, the killing of a camel was deliberate and premeditated, in which case the victim receives not one but two camels.

the Xeer requires that every person be fully insured against any liability he might incur under the law. If an individual cannot make the required payment, a designated group of his kin is responsible.

A third point about the Xeer is that there is no monopoly of police or judicial services. Anyone is free to serve in those capacities as long as he is not at the same time a religious or political dignitary, since that would compromise the sharp separation of law, politics, and religion. Also, anyone performing in such a role is subject to the same laws as anyone else
And so, I believe the Somali argument goes something like the following. The toxic dumping and trawling of the Somali coastline by foreign vessels is deliberate and premeditated, and so the Somali people are entitled to compensation. Since they cannot receive compensation from the specific foreign vessels that commit the crimes, the Somalis go after 'their kin,' the other foreign vessels that pass through the area. And all Somalis who aren't religious or political dignitaries are authorized to carry out this service of justice.


Today's privateer news:


Evidently, yesterday the Somalis captured not two but four ships, although the Chinese ship (Zhenhua 4) was quickly freed.


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Yesterday's privateer news:


1. China has joined all those other countries in sending ships to the Gulf of Aden. They explicitly called the Somalis "a great threat to international navigation, trade and security." (Source: AP.)


2. I want to highlight further the way that the Somali privateers treat the ships' crews.


RIA Novosti (Russia):

"I want Ukraine to understand what is going on here. There is a lot of concern that Ukraine has not been sufficiently represented during the three-month negotiations," the pirate spokesman said by telephone. "The negotiation team's goal is to help the Ukrainians [on board] to get home by Christmas."
Let's not forget that Somalis are Sunni Muslims[1] whose country suffered a "brutal military invasion"[2] from mostly-Christian Ethiopia[3] in 2006 (and the war is ongoing[4]).


"I want you to know that the crew is free to move around. They can walk around on board the ship and they are all healthy.

Antigua Sun:

Fortunately for the captives, pirates in those parts tend to not harm those they seize. In fact, reports indicate that the crews of the ships are treated quite well and simply held until a ransom, which is usually a significant amount of money, is paid.

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Today's privateer news:


1. Indonesia sounds serious about not negotiating with the Somali privateers.



The Indonesian government would not negotiate with the Somali pirates over the detaining of 11 Indonesians working as crews at a Malaysian tug boat, Indonesian foreign ministry said here Friday.

The Indonesian government was now coordinating with the owner of the Malaysian ship, Mas Indra Shippping Malaysian Bhd, based on Port Klang Malaysia, to rescue the crews, Faizahsyah added.
I wonder what they're planning. The ship is probably in Eyl by now. Are the Indonesians going to go in with guns blazing?


2. Somali pirates [were] killed 'legally.'


BBC News:

Royal Marines who shot and killed two Somali pirates in November acted lawfully, an inquiry has found.


HMS Cumberland, based in Devonport, was on deployment in the Gulf of Aden when the marine detachment intervened in an attempted hijacking of a Danish ship.


As the Type-22 frigate and its crew sailed back into Plymouth earlier the findings of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) inquiry were made public.


It found that all personnel had acted lawfully and in self-defence.

Eight pirates were captured and are due to stand trial in 2009.
Since I lack further details, my view is that this case is an instance of imperfect self-defense. They had the right to self-defense, but they unreasonably believed that deadly force was necessary. The Somali privateers have demonstrated in the past that they're "not into getting you between the cross hairs and trying to take you out."[1]


3. I'll add these quotes about privateers' getting girls from an article in The Christian Science Monitor (one of my favorite news sources, along with Al Jazeera English).


"Once there was a girl who lived in Garowe," 100 miles from Eyl, Jama says. "I loved her. I tried to approach her many times, but she rejected me. But since I became a pirate, she has tried nine times to get with me.


"But I refused, because I'm already married."

"The pirates are the hottest men in town," Abdi says. "Girls from all over Somalia moved here to marry pirates. But if the girl isn't cute she's out of luck, because the pirates only go with beautiful girls."

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Since I lack further details, my view is that this case is an instance of imperfect self-defense. They had the right to self-defense, but they unreasonably believed that deadly force was necessary.

What other kind of force could they have used? This kind of reminds me of discussions about shootouts when somebody goes "well why didn't the cops just shoot the gun out of the suspect's hand?". Reliable but non-lethal force against any enemy, especially an enemy consisting of several individuals who are heavily armed, is essentially not possible with our current technology. I doubt the Royal Marines had any kind of weapons to use besides deadly ones. What were they supposed to do? Challenge the AK-47-toting pirates to a round of fisticuffs, preferably under the Marquis of Queensbury rulebook? For all the talk about the pirates' gentelmanly behavior and possibly legit motivations, they're still committing armed robberies with machine guns and rocket launchers. In pretty much any country in the world, deadly force is a legally accepted defense against that level of crime.

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Iranian state radio says Iran has sent a warship to the coast of Somalia to protect its cargo ships against piracy.


The Saturday report says the ship arrived in Somali waters.


The Iranian ship would join vessels from the U.S., Denmark, Italy, Russia and other countries in patrolling the Gulf of Aden, which leads to the Suez Canal and is the quickest route from Asia to Europe and the Americas.




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If the UK can kill two Somalis and detain eight of them, then I'd like to know why they couldn't have detained all ten of them.


Somalia vs. The World. "Bring 'em on!"


Today's privateer news:


Russia is one of those countries that is sending ships, and they intend to kill many Somalis.


'A Russian solution to the Somali pirates'

Russia is planning to send more warships to the Somali coast, along with some commandos and a particularly Russian style of counter-piracy operations. In other words, the Russians plan to go old school on the Somali pirates, and use force to rescue ships currently held, and act ruthlessly against real or suspected pirates it encounters at sea.


This could cause diplomatic problems with the other nations providing warships for counter-piracy operations off the Somali coast. That's because the current ships have, so far, followed a policy of not attempting rescue operations (lest captive sailors get hurt) and not firing on pirates unless fired on first. Russia believes this approach only encourages the pirates.

It was Spetsgruppa Alfa that was sent to Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1980 to make sure the troublesome Afghan president Amin and his family were eliminated from the scene (killed.) Survivors (members of the presidential palace staff) of the Spetsgruppa Alfa assault reported that the Spetsnaz troopers systematically hunted down and killed their targets with a minimum of fuss. Very professional. The surviving Afghans were suitably impressed.

Since the pirates take good care of their captives, the anti-piracy efforts cannot risk a high body count, lest they be accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes or simply bad behavior.

There has always been the option of a military operation to capture the seaside towns and villages the pirates operate from. But this would include sinking hundreds of fishing boats and speedboats. Hundreds of civilians would be killed or injured. Unless the coastal areas were occupied (or until local Somalis could maintain law and order), the pirates would soon be back in business. Pacifying Somalia is an unpopular prospect. Given the opprobrium heaped on the U.S. for doing something about Iraq, no one wants to be on the receiving end of that criticism for pacifying Somalia. The world also knows, from over a century of experience, that the Somalis are violent, persistent and unreliable.

Suspicious seagoing ships, and even speedboats, could be sunk in port. That would still produce some videos (real or staged, it doesn't matter) of dead civilians, but probably not so many that the anti-piracy force would be indicted as war criminals.

If the Russians go old school on the Somali pirates, it will probably work. The Somalis are vicious and clever, but not stupid. Somalis and Russians speak the same language of violence, and the Russians carry a bigger stick. The world will complain, then enjoy the benefits of a piracy free Somali coast.

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If the UK can kill two Somalis and detain eight of them, then I'd like to know why they couldn't have detained all ten of them.

A fair question, but if I had to imagine it probably went something like this:


Marines: Hey, you ten pirates waving machine guns at us! Throw down your weapons and surrender!

Somalis: Hell no, we won't go!


Marines: Hey, you eight pirates waving machine guns at us...

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Today's privateer news:


Somalia's in a time warp? This news sounds straight out of 2006:


'Somali Islamists take pirates base' (Source: defpro.com.)

Fighters from Islamic movements in central Somalia had taken the control of the coastal town of Hobyo, 500 kilometers northeast of the Somali capital Mogadishu after heavy fighting between them and Somali pirates who have been basing there erupted on late Saturday, residents said.

The fighters attacked the city on Saturday night and seized the town after huge resistance from the pirates.


Muse Iyow Ali an elder in the town confirmed to defpro.com through the wire that the pirates lost the town over night and Islamists could be seen parts of the Hobyo.


The two sides exchanged heavy weaponries including Rocket Propelled Grenade, heavy and light machineguns, and today the city is tranquil.


Iyow said one of the pirates was killed in the clash, and two of Hobyo inhabitants were wounded. It’s not suddenly confirmed the casualties sustained to the Islamists.


Islamic courts Union whose militias took the city did not comment why they attacked the city.


Somali pirates holding a Ukrainian cargo ship and its crew, which loaded with tanks and munitions was anchored near the Somali port Hobyo. The MV FAINA was hijacked by Somali pirates almost two months ago, and pirates based in that town have been demanding huge ransom to free the ship and its crew.


Hobyo town is one of the places which are heaven seek for the Somali pirates after the famous positions of Eyl and Haradheere in northern Somalia.

Uh oh. I remember the following quote (via RIA Novosti) a few days ago from a privateer on the Faina:


there isn't any fuel

A similar news article from Press TV (Iran) has this quote:

On November 21, the fighters poured into the port of Haradheere, launching a crackdown on the pirates for that they described as encroachment on a 'Muslim property'.


"Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country and hijacking its ship is a bigger crime than other ships," the UIC spokesman Abdi Rahim Isse Addow, said at the time.

And so, Al-Shabaab/the Islamic Courts Union was really angry about the capture of the Sirius Star, but they also consider it a crime (under sharia law, not the xeer, I presume) to capture other ships like the Faina. I wonder if we will hear about their arresting the privateers on the Faina soon.

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Today's privateer news:


1. Ok, we have the following headline: 'In support of the Somali pirates.' Before reading, ask yourself where you would expect to find an article such as this one. Provo, Utah? Lubbock, Texas? Take a CrAZy guess. Answer:


© 2000–2008 San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center.

Key quotes from the article:

The first important point to consider is that the "ransom"* money that the Somali Pirates are collecting is supporting impoverished Somali communities and feeding malnourished children. For these impoverished people, their government and the international community has allowed them to go starving, but the "pirates" provide for their needs by redistributing some of the wealth from those who have too much to those who have too little and no time to wait.
The privateers do help "impoverished Somali communities" by purchasing items from the markets, as outlined in the article entitled 'Pirates live the high life, transform villages into boomtowns.' Are they "feeding malnourished children"? Certainly their own children, and I suppose that they are indirectly by buying items from the markets. The shops' owners have money to purchase food for their families because of the privateers. But, I know a former constitutional-law lecturer who has a good understanding of the legal meaning of 'redistributing wealth.' I do not think that we are talking about redistribution of wealth at all.


The second important point to keep in mind is that for some time the illegal dumping of toxic waste by the international shipping companies has wreaked havoc on the ocean and the Somali shores without resistance. Again, no government, no corporation, and not the collective efforts of the international community prevented this ecological catastrophe. The Pirates, at least in come cases, have prevented some of these would be pollutants from entering the water by taking matters into their own hands.


When deciding for ourselves whether the Pirates should be considered the scourge of the sea or courageous defenders of the planet and impoverished people, we should consider the stakes at hand: the profits of mega-corporations on one side, human suffering and the health of the planet on the other.

This point resembles what I've been saying, although the author's next point makes the usage of the term pirates odd.


* A small aside: the reason that I put the word "ransom" in quotation marks above is because the word "ransom" is not an objective word - it is loaded with a presumption of criminality. For example, when someone is put in jail, the newspapers don't report that the police "kidnapped" someone and are asking for a "ransom" to secure the individual's release. Instead, most newspapers will read that a criminal of some sort was "arrested" and a "bail" was set. I am asking the reader to consider this situation objectively, both from the point of view of a starving Somali child as well as from your own point of view.
Yeah, I've been thinking about the term ransom as well. I agree with the author's point. Yet, the author freely uses the term pirates instead of privateers. I believe that there are three possible replacements for ransom: compensation, prize money, and tribute. I would say that compensation is the most appropriate, considering what I said earlier about the xeer.


2. 'Germany wants international court for Somali pirates.' (Source: Reuters.)


Key quote:

"It needs to be an international authority. No one wants a 'Guantanamo on the sea'," Jung told reporters
Nice dig at President Bush. Boo to the idea. Coincidentally, my favorite Somali author, Nasr Ibn Othman, has a new article today about Somali national self-determination.


Key quotes:

Surely, if the facade known as the legal-rational state of Nigeria can be considered an important player on the African stage, the Honourable Somali nation deserves to be respected as a player on the world stage? Has it not been the Somalis who have shown, time and again—despite the best efforts of the imperialist design inspired by the men of Europe in 1884—that war shall be waged against injustice, no matter how great the technological gap between the opposing forces? Most of the African continent may have succumbed to the coercive and brutal methods of European colonialism and, more recently, to the more subtle but related methods of the Americans, still the Somalis continue to fight valiantly against injustice.

The fact of the matter is that there is no justification, what so ever, for the neo-colonialist concept of imposing governments “from above” upon African people

The fact of the matter is that Somali people hate injustice, and nothing can be more unjust than the external imposition of alien concepts and ideals upon a traditionally proud and sovereign people. The Somali people, by their very nature, are always prepared to extend the hand of friendship to those who are prepared to treat them with respect. Let us hope that now, after more than a century of struggle with the disrespectful policies that had been inspired by the first great African land grab, the Somali nation shall be given time and space in order to determine its own political destiny. It seems obvious that a continuation of this war shall only be possible if the Somali people are somehow denied the opportunity to choose their own leaders, and on their own terms.

The Somalis are incapable of changing their way of life for the benefit of other races of men; and, quite frankly, why should they do so? Certain other races of men are of the view that their way of life is superior to that of the Somali people. Such people are capable of extolling the virtues of hollow secularism, material consumerism, and moral relativism. Such people are capable of killing for the advancement of their perceived interests. It seems to me that it is in the interest of certain races of men to finally accept the fact that the Somali nation is fully justified when it comes to rejecting the corrosive influences of external direction.

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'Somali pirates hijack 13 Yemeni boats'


SANA'A, Dec. 24 (Saba) -Somali pirates have hijacked 13 Yemeni boats in Arabian Sea .


Althawranews.net reported local fishermen as saying that the pirates captured the Yemeni boats few days before Eid Al-Adha in Arabian Sea, adding that they have seized 13 boats and released a number of Yemeni fishermen as well as more than 120 fishermen were taken as hostages.



'Yemen to set up anti-piracy centre' (Source: AFP.)


The Yemeni government said on Wednesday it is creating a regional anti-piracy centre to battle the growing number of high-seas hijackings by Somali pirates in the area.


The centre will act as a hub for the exchange of information about piracy and for the coordination of multi-national naval forces in international and Somali territorial waters, a Yemeni transport ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by the official Saba news agency.


Yemen has already started work on building the centre which should be completed in about six months, with 10 Red Sea and Gulf of Aden countries taking part, the official said.

In addition to Yemen, the official said that Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Sudan would be involved in the centre.


"It would be wrong to say that the creation of centre will lead to a regional or international force, because it is simply a technical and coordination centre," he said.


When there are acts of piracy, "it will fall upon the naval forces of the closest country to intervene."

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As a Christmas special, today I present a...




Eight teams, two rounds. The people who are eligible to be drafted are all Somalis who have any sort of involvement with the privateering. They must have a name and a sourced quote.


1.1 Nasr Ibn Othman (Somali writer)


Memorable quote:

It is a sad state of affairs that today the Somali nation is somehow expected to apologise to the many racists of this world for having dared to protect its national resources, its culture, and its dignity. Therefore, I state unequivocally that a pirate is a criminal and that a privateer acts within the law.

1.2 Shamun Indhabur (MV Faina privateer leader)


Memorable quote:

In Somalia all the young men are desperate. There is wide unemployment in the country, there are no sources of income. One of the only sources we have had is fishing, and the superpowers and Asian countries sidelined us in our own sea. So at first we started out just to counter illegal fishing, but international forces started to protect them.

1.3 Sugule Ali (MV Faina privateer spokesman, Commander of Voluntary Marines for Somalia)


Memorable quote:

Somalia has suffered from many years of destruction because of all these weapons. We don’t want that suffering and chaos to continue. We are not going to offload the weapons. We just want the money.

1.4 Mohammed Said (MV Sirius Star privateer leader)


Memorable quote:

Our aim is not to hurt the crew members or damage the ship.

1.5 Jama of Eyl (MV Centauri privateer)


Memorable quote:

Once there was a girl who lived in Garowe. I loved her. I tried to approach her many times, but she rejected me. But since I became a pirate, she has tried nine times to get with me. But I refused, because I'm already married.

1.6 Januna Ali Jama (MV Faina privateer spokesman)


Memorable quote:

The Somali coastline has been destroyed, and we believe this money is nothing compared to the devastation that we have seen on the seas.

1.7 Boyah of Eyl (privateer leader)


Memorable quote:

The pirates are living between life and death. Who can stop them? Americans and British all put together cannot do anything.

1.8 Mohamed Dashishle (MV Sirius Star privateer)


Memorable quote:

As it was happening, we stopped the ship using the weapons we held — we got our weapons ready as if we were going to shoot. After half an hour, the ship stopped, and we told it where to go with signals. No one even boarded the ship during the operation.

2.1 Kahiye of Hobyo (Hobyo privateer)


Memorable quote:

Kahiye continued, insisting that no money is ever given to the Shabab. He said all of the money ends up being spent on recruiting new pirates and buying houses, cars, and huge quantities of a mildly narcotic leaf called khat, which is chewed by many Somali men.

2.2 Salah Ali Samatar (Eyl privateer)


Memorable quote:

Is there any Somali who can earn a million dollars for any business? We get millions of dollars easily for one attack.

2.3 Mohamed Aabi (Eyl privateer)


Memorable quote:

We are hungry, you know. There is no government here, no economy, so it is a good way of earning money.

2.4 Aden Yusuf (Eyl privateer)


Memorable quote:

The oldest man on the ship always takes the responsibility of collecting the money, because we see it as very risky, and he gets some extra payment for his service later.

2.5 Omar Jamal (Somali Justice Advocacy Center director)


Memorable quote:

I find that [uN Security Council resolution 1851] not only odd but illegal and a clear violation of the code of the international law.

2.6 Jeylani Shaykh Abdi (Somali fisherman)


Memorable quote:

They are not just robbing us of our fish. They are ramming our boats and taking our nets -- including the catch.

2.7 Muhammed Hussein (Somali fisherman)


Memorable quote:

What is happening here is economic terrorism.

2.8 Ahmed of Hobyo (privateer spokesman)


Memorable quote:

The ship's owners are taking too long to hand over the money.

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Today's privateer news:


1. The President of Somalia's TFG is going to resign. Or is he?



Somalia's President Abdullahi Yusuf is expected to resign soon, bowing to pressure from western countries and regional leaders who accuse him of obstructing peace efforts aimed at including opposition groups in the country's government.

Boston Herald:

Aides to Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf had said he would resign Saturday. The 74-year-old former warlord had tried to fire the reformist prime minister but backed down this week in the face of international condemnation and lack of support from legislators.


But Yusuf did not address a special session of parliament on Saturday as planned and in recent days other aides have issued denials he will step down. Parliamentary speaker Sheik Aden Mohamed Nur said the session would be held on Monday instead.


"It is baseless propaganda that the Somali president is going to resign and wants to leave from the office for the following Saturday even it is false that the international community and the federal parliamentarians are putting pressure to the president about the resignation," the spokesman said.
Nonetheless, since the Ethiopian army is leaving, it looks like the TFG will collapse soon—an act that would presumably end the UN's ability to "undertake all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia, for the purpose of suppressing acts of piracy," according to the wording of Security Council resolution 1851.


2. 'German frigate stops pirate attack.' (Source: CNN.)


The German sailors captured the pirates and disarmed them, destroying the weapons, the ministry said.


The German government in Berlin later ordered the Somali pirates released because they were not caught while harassing German interests, according to BBC.

Well-handled. As second overall draft pick Shamun Indhabur said to Newsweek:


The most friendly forces in Somali waters are the U.S. forces. They arrest us and release us, because they know we are not going to hurt them. But the French and the Indians treat us badly and sometimes they don't know what they're doing. The Indians sunk that Thai boat [a fishing vessel reportedly taken over by pirates this month] and said it was pirates, but I tell you there was not a single pirate on that boat.

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It is an ongoing, romantic, global event about which there are plenty of aspects to discuss. I am attempting to make thoughtful, informative, and creative posts, whereas your only contribution has been the embedding of a YouTube video of Muppet pirates.

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Today's privateer news:


1. 2460ymx.jpg



BBC Somali service editor Yusuf Garaad says the president's departure has removed one obstacle to peace but it is unclear what happens next, especially if the government collapses altogether.

Ethiopian government spokesman Bereket Simon told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that Ethiopia had had nothing to do with Mr Yusuf's departure and it would not affect plans for Ethiopian troops to leave Somalia.


2. 'Surprise solution for the Somali pirate menace.' (Source: strategypage.com.)


Ethiopian invited a group of Puntland government leaders and tribal elders to come to Ethiopia to discuss matters of mutual interest. One solution for the Somali pirates would be a few thousand Ethiopian peacekeepers clearing out the port towns and villages the pirates use as bases. Ethiopia isn't eager to do anymore peacekeeping among Somalis, but will do so to control border security (a lot of Somalis live in Ethiopian border areas), or secure its access to the sea. Ethiopia uses ports in Djibouti for all its imports and exports, and the growing Somali pirate menace is making that seaborne trade more expensive and less reliable.
What does "clearing out" mean? Killing every person in Eyl?


3. [John] 'Kerry urges caution on 'hot pursuit' of Somali pirates.' (Source: USA Today.)


As a young Navy swift boat commander in Vietnam, Sen. John Kerry was no stranger to the perils of hot pursuit in combat.


He was awarded a Silver Star for beaching his boat after a rocket attack and racing ashore to chase down and kill a Viet Cong fighter armed with a rocket launcher.


Nearly 40 years later, as incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry favors using hot pursuit against pirates in the waters off Somalia, but urges a cautious approach before U.S officials consider sending American forces to chase them ashore. Kerry plans committee hearings next year looking at the problems posed by piracy.


The Massachusetts Democrat, who was on President-elect Barack Obama's short list to be secretary of state, said a hot pursuit policy on Somalia's coastline is "long overdue." But he warns against any "haphazard, sloppy" military missions.

Somali privateers are not Viet Cong, John.


4. 'The US role in Somalia's calamity.' (Source: Huffington Post.)


Pirates have put Somalia back on the international agenda, but Somalia's people have yet to receive as much protection as the international tankers off-shore.

When Ethiopia intervened militarily to crush the Islamic courts in December 2006, Washington supported its operation.


The last two years have been an unmitigated disaster for the people of Somalia. The conflict pits the Ethiopian forces and Somalia's ineffectual, internationally backed transitional government against a powerful but fragmented insurgency. All sides have routinely committed war crimes and serious human rights abuses. I have interviewed young girls raped by militiamen from the transitional government; mothers whose children were cut to pieces by indiscriminate Ethiopian bombardment; and common laborers shot in the streets by insurgent fighters who saw them as unsupportive of their cause.

America's most visible response to the crisis has been a series of air strikes against terrorism suspects that have mostly killed civilians. The air strikes--and the way in which US officials have ignored overwhelming evidence of Ethiopian and transitional government war crimes -- have fueled anti-American sentiment.


US policy not only has displayed a callous disregard for the basic human rights of Somalis, but it has failed on its own terms, breeding the very extremism it sought to eliminate. Drawing on widespread hostility to the Ethiopian intervention and resentment of the abuses, insurgents loosely grouped under the banner of a group called Al-Shabaab ("youth") have become the most powerful military force on the ground. Al-Shabaab's leaders preach a kind of Islamist extremism that had never managed to take root in Somalia before the nightmare of the last two years. Meanwhile attacks at sea by Somali pirates have grown, unchecked, a product of the lawless chaos that prevails on land. Ethiopia says its battered military will soon withdraw, leaving US policymakers desperate to empower relatively moderate Somali opposition leaders to fill the vacuum.

Not perfect, but I'll call it an excellent article.

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U.S. Losing 'Secret' War in Somalia

By David Axe December 30, 2008 | 11:09:56 AMCategories: Africa, Shhh!!!


For several years the U.S. military has fought a covert war in Somalia, using gunships, drones and Special Forces to break up suspected terror networks -- and enlisting Ethiopia's aid in propping up a pro-U.S. "transitional" government. It's a relatively unknown front in the "war on terror," and one where the U.S. and its allies are losing ground, fast.


Two years ago, the U.S. military fought alongside Ethiopian troops in a lightning-fast armored assault deep into Somalia aimed at destroying the Islamic government, which the Pentagon suspected of harboring Al Qaeda operatives. Today the Islamists are back, waging a brutal insurgency that has killed thousands of people and steadily gained ground against the occupying Ethiopians and their allies in the transitional government.


Last week, taking advantage of a power struggle inside the transitional government, the Islamists pushed to within five miles of Mogadishu, previously an Ethiopian and government stronghold. Just goes to show: the political front can be one of the most important in modern counter-insurgency campaigns.


The escalating fighting has all sorts of ramifications. U.N. food convoys feeding half the country (mostly with U.S.-donated food) have been disrupted. And efforts to create a Somali judiciary capable of prosecuting piracy cases have been sidelined.


While security in Iraq has improved by the day, Somalia and Afghanistan continue their slides into chaos, on Washington's watch.




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