Friday, October 3, 2008
In geography class - the "Horn" of Africa is that horny protruberance on the East Coast of Africa that boldly protrudes and divides the Gulf of Aden where the Red Sea hangs out and the massive Indian Ocean. It's also the hood for one of the New Millennium's Failed States. THE number 1 Failed State in fact. Somalia. With a pop of less than 10 million and a lit rate of a pififul 37.8% and about 94 K online. Most of Somalia's turf is unarable - like over 98%.
"This year, Somalia claims the unenviable distinction of being the state most at risk of failure. In many ways, Somalia has failed already, as the unpopular transitional government lacks control of the streets of Mogadishu—much less the rest of the country.
The loose coalition of Islamic clerics and militia leaders that captured the capital in 2006 was routed in the early weeks of 2007 with the help of Ethiopian troops, who have since stayed on to battle the remnants of the Islamist insurgency.
The fighting has yet to produce anything resembling a victor; if anything, the country’s clan chaos continues unabated in the unruly streets, while pirates stalk the waters offshore. What the fighting has successfully produced is a refugee nightmare, with some 700,000 people fleeing Mogadishu last year. "
The fighting has also produced a semi society almost entirely free from the consistency of the Rule of Law.
"Following the breakdown of the central government, most regions have reverted to local forms of conflict resolution, either secular, traditional Somali customary law, or Shari'a law."
Yay. Great Britain's Royal Institute of International Affairs @ Chatham House reveals that one biz out of Somalia that is expanding at an exponential rate is actually an ancient biz. Piracy. 2008 has been like a bang up year for Pirates in Somalia's near abroad. Brit Cat Roger Middleton unleashed a very interesting dossier for RIIA entitled "Piracy in Somalia: Threatening Global Trade, Feeding Local Wars"
"Pirates have hijacked more than 30 ships off Somalia this year, making the country's 3,300 km (2,060 miles for the metrically challenged) coastline one of the most dangerous in the world and threatening an important shipping lane between Europe and Asia."
"Total ransom payments for 2008 probably lie in the range of $18-30 million. Inflation of ransom demands makes this an ever more lucrative business" Somalia pirates are totally jamming up the World Food Fund too, collecting vital booty like foodstuffs the UN has paid for to be sent to ease misery and offer hope in Africa's desperate environs like Somalia. And Sept 2008 has been a banner month! * Sept 2 - Pirates seize the Carre D'as IV, a small French yacht with two French citizens aboard, in the Gulf of Aden, and demand a ransom of more than $1.4 million. French commandos free the French couple
on September 16, killing and capturing pirates..
* Sept 3 - An Egyptian ship is hijacked.
* Sept 10 - Pirates seize a SoKo cargo ship.
* Sept 17 - Pirates hijack a Greek vessel, the Centauri, with 25 crew aboard.
* Sept 21 - Pirates hijack the Greek MV Capt Stephanos with 20 crew on board. And then they hit the jackpot. Ukrania's MV Faina just happened to be toting over 30 upgraded old school Russian T 72 panzers and a mix of weaponry including the ever popular AK 74 Assault rifle (a 1974 upgrade of the ancient AK 47). Destination for the panzers is still unclear - though intell suspects
"Chartered through a Ukrainian front company, the Faina's a typical post-Soviet arms smuggler: Its cargo is manifested to the Kenyan military, but the true destination for those T-72 tanks is either Sudan's government, which is under an international arms embargo, or southern-Sudanese rebels chafing under a rickety peace deal.
The Kenyans are just middlemen making a buck. "The pirates may be using MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) and rocket propelled grenades during their attacks. They also have GPS systems and satellite phones. Magically, Great Satan's USS Howard (DDG 83) is on hand, buzzing MV Fain with choppers - determined not to let those panzers get into the wrong hands. Concern for hostage safety has ruled out any action for now. Somalia's semi gov has asked Russia to intervene and fight the pirates.
"We are inviting all countries, all states who have possibility to support Somalia to fight against ... pirates. We are especially inviting Russia and giving special status to Russian warships to fight, to help Somalia." Russia's CWS Fearless (F1154) is en route - making nigh unto 30 knots to the scene. And Russia's rep for hostages surviving her commando raids (like that theatre in Moscow or that school in Beslan) isn't so good. The pirates won't like dealing with the Russians who were sent down yonder to cover up Vlad's hanky panky in arming rogue states. Great Satan should strike first. She needs to know exactly what's on that ship; keep those panzers out of Sudan's hands and enjoy a wonderful opportunity to make an example of cutthroats.
"What if we make a move and the pirates attack their captives? They might - or they may fear the consequences. Either way, it's better to risk a small amount of bloodshed now than to let these gangs continue terrorizing the Gulf of Aden (the route to the Suez Canal) and sea lanes stretching into the Indian Ocean." "Piracy must be exterminated."