Argghh!: Somali Pirates Spark International Community

It is nearly a month to the day that we first wrote about Somali pirates hijacking a Saudi oil ship in the Gulf of Aden.

On the day the pirates made their demands Keith wrote in The Early Look (11/18):
“This morning the Saudi market is down another -3.5% and the United Arab Emirates tape is getting tagged for another -5.1% loss. This isn’t new. This is called deleveraging. This is “The New Reality.”

Today it’s clear the international community is willing to get in the curve of “The New Reality”. The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously yesterday on the US-drafted resolution to authorize 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 encourages states to deploy naval vessels and military aircraft to carry out the operations.

China has proactively stated that it may soon deploy warships to the Gulf of Aden and Somali coast to escort its ships and prevent the disruption of commerce along one of the world’s most active sea routes. This comes in response to today’s pirate attack off the coast of Somalia in which the crew of the China Communications Construction Co. was forced to fend of pirates for five hours until coalition helicopters chased them off.

In this year alone pirates have attacked some 120 ships in the region, seized 60 of them, and have collected more than $120 million in ransom. Currently 14 ships and 240 crew members are being held hostage by pirates. This is non-trivial to say the least.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who pushed for the resolution’s passage and stressed the importance of intelligence sharing to coordinate naval and military operations in the region, is cognizant of the unraveling political and security situation in Somalia. This in an important point to note for the resolution expects states to first get approval by the country’s transitional federal government. This last point seems unlikely to hold up.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned that Somalia may descend into “chaos” by the end of the month when an Ethiopian occupation force leave the country. Rice proposed a UN peacekeeping mission to Somalia, which Ban quickly rejected it, citing his past unsuccessful attempts to mobilize a strong international force in the region and unsafe condition for peacekeepers. To place Somalia under a UN flag, Rice would need the support of the vast majority of the 192 UN members to fund the operations.

China is putting its foot down and we’re behind any nation that steps up to the pirates. A joint effort from the international community is need to suppress them. This will have to come in the form of joint international intervention and must be proactively constructed with respect to the unstable Somali state.

Matthew Hedrick
Analyst