Monday, April 18, 2011

Somalia update: He said, he said

Vice Admiral Mark Fox, commander of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet patrolling Somali waters, April 18:  "I would like to see the industry side be more willing to embrace embarked security teams," he said. "There have been no ships successfully pirated with embarked security teams. So let that be its own statement."

Mohammed Abdulahi Omar Asharq, Foreign Minister of the Somali Transitional Federal Government, April 18:  "The Somali government rejects in the strongest possible terms the payment of ransoms.  The Somali community believes it has been abandoned by the international community."

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, April 18:  “Piracy is not a water-borne disease. It is a symptom of conditions on the ground, including the overall security and political situation in Somalia.  Therefore, our response must be holistic and comprehensive, encompassing simultaneous action on three fronts: deterrence, security and the rule of law, and development. We must work with the Somalia authorities, and we must weave our counter-piracy efforts into an overall solution for Somalia.”

Anil Devli, CEO of the Indian National Shipowners' Association (INSA), April 18:  "While acts of piracy and hijacking of vessels are unacceptable, the action of holding back seven Indian seafarers despite full payment of ransom money is extremely concerning. We deplore the happenings."  On April 15th, Somali pirates failed to release all of the all-Indian crew of the Panama-registered Asphalt Venture, in spite of having received their full ransom.  Purportedly, the pirates are attempting to leverage the remaining captives against the release of 110 of their brethren held by the police in Mumbai.  The Indian government has responded in typically direct fashion by dispatching a Talwar-class stealth frigate.

me:  The Navy wants armed merchant ships (which the shipping companies are becoming more amenable to), the Somali government (if we can call it that, remember) wants support, the UN wants everything to happen (but isn't actually enacting anything), and the Indian government is continuing to take matters into its own hands (even for vessels not under an Indian flag).  Asharq has elsewhere stated that "the race between the pirates and the world is being won by the pirates."  It's a desperate tone, but then everything about Somalia is desperate.  And, with words still more common than action from the international community, I can't say he's wrong.

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