|The new pirates|
In a "Booze and Boat Bits" way back in August 2011, I noted the rise of piracy off the coast of Nigeria. A week ago, on Christmas Eve, as Americans were reaching Grandma's house, drinking eggnog, and settling down for the proverbial long winter's night, four sailors were kidnapped from the MV Asso Ventuno 40 nautical miles off the coast of Bayelsa State of Nigeria in the Niger Delta. This is only the latest event. In an article for the Associated Press, reporter Nicole Winfield wrote, "Pirate attacks are on the rise in West Africa's Gulf of Guinea, which follows the continent's curve from Liberia to Gabon. Over the last year and a half, piracy there has escalated from low-level armed robberies to hijackings and cargo thefts." I have written on numerous occasions about modern piracy on the other side of Africa. Somali pirates, as recently noted, are quieting down. Attention is now shifting, but the new piracy is very different. Somali piracy, as argued by Jay Bahadur, is (was?) based on clan affiliation and short-term, opportunistic bands. Nigerian piracy--and there seems to be a consensus that the pirates in the Gulf of Guinea are largely Nigerian--is based on a new kind of organized crime. Indeed, the analyses I've read imply that crime is essentially a cultural value in Nigeria, and the new piracy is simply crime moved offshore.