Somalia, until a few years ago, was the first country that came to mind when people talked of a failed state. A poor country with desperate people living in it. Much like Afghanistan and the Taliban era, this allows terrorist organisations like Al-Shabaab to grow. Most people are now aware of this organisation after the mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya.
However, Somalia has been on the map of the shipping industry for a few years now.
“544 taken hostage in the first six months of 2010, with 360 still being held. Thirteen ships hijacked.”
This piracy has forced nations from all over the world to send warships in the area to patrol and protect merchant navy ships in the area.
“…patrolled by military ships from three coalition counter-piracy forces: one from the EU, one run by NATO, and the Combines Task Force, led by the United States……. Besides the task forces, there are other navies acting independently of coalitions, including those of Russia, Korea, India, Japan and China.”
“The Chinese Navy is on piracy patrol, but is also well placed to support its growing presence in Africa. If you want a window into future geopolitcs, the Indian Ocean has a good view.”
The pirates adjusted to the increased presence of military ships by using captured ships as mother ships and also expanding their reach to a wider range as you can see from the map above.
Prosecuting captured pirates has been almost impossible because nations are unwilling to take them. Only Kenya and Seychelles do so, after accepting aid from richer nations.
With the counter-piracy measures taken and also the armed security personnel hired aboard ships it seems that piracy in East Africa is now dimming with increased piracy now taking place in West Africa.
The piracy chapters are some of the most fascinating in the book. Who would have thought that the early 21st century would be prove to be a golden age for piracy.
The third and final part is tomorrow.