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22 September 2 ! "ysons Corner# $ir%inia David &' Shinn Ad(unct Professor )lliott School of International Affairs Geor%e *ashin%ton +niversity ,ac-%round to the Somali Piracy Problem All the e.perts are in a%reement that piracy off Somalia /ill not come to an end until the country resolves its failed state status' "his is a problem caused lar%ely by lacof security on the land and not inade0uate patrollin% of international /aters by forei%n naval vessels' "he challen%e is too hu%e to resolve on the /ater' Piracy is ta-in% place in a re%ion that is lar%er than 1 million s0uare miles and includes the Gulf of Aden# south end of the Red Sea and /estern Indian Ocean' Some 22# commercial ships annually transit the Gulf of Aden alone' "here are simply not enou%h available naval vessels in the /orld to ade0uately patrol such a hu%e area' "here is a lon% history of piracy off the Somali coast# but in the past three years there has been a sharp rise in pirate attac-s' In 2 3# there /ere 1! attac-s# of /hich 12 /ere successful' In 2 4# the number of attac-s (umped to 122 /ith 52 of them successful' Durin% the first 4 months of 2 !# the number of attac-s increased to 124 /ith 22 of them successful' *hile the number of piracy attempts continues to %o up# the percenta%e of successful sea6(ac-in%s has decreased due to better counter measures by shippin% companies and increased international naval patrols' In 2 3# Somali pirates had a success rate of 72 percent' It dropped to 25 percent in 2 4 and to 25 percent durin% the first 4 months of 2 !' ,ein% a Somali pirate has become ris-ier and more dan%erous' As a result# Somali pirates have altered their tactics' "hey no/ conduct attac-s in a /ider area8off the coast of Oman# at the southern end of the Red Sea and near the Seychelles 8and carry out more attac-s at ni%ht' "he Current "hreat *ith all the publicity %iven to the piracy issue# you /ould thin- that Somali pirates are capturin% most of the ships transitin% in the vicinity of Somalia' In fact# less than one6tenth of one percent of ships transitin% the Gulf of Aden# the most affected re%ion# e.perience an attac- in any %iven year' On the other hand# pirate ransom demands are increasin%' In Au%ust 2 !# Somali pirates claimed they received 95 million for release of an Italian tu%boat and cre/ of 17' "he %overnment of Italy denied that any ransom had been paid' Althou%h the pirates may have e.a%%erated the amount#
2 it is not credible that pirates released the ship /ithout payin% any ransom' Pirates also claimed in Au%ust that they released a German container vessel /ith : Germans# 2 Russians# 2 +-rainians and 15 ;ilipinos for 92'3 million in ransom' "he cost of freein% captured vessels appears to be increasin%' "oday# Somali pirates hold at least ! ships and more than 1 cre/ members' Many ship o/ners# especially those operatin% on a very thin profit mar%in# have concluded it is cheaper to ta-e a chance that their ships /ill not be captured than to employ e.pensive counter measures' Some ships have put security teams on board# /hich cost about 95 # per passa%e' Most ship o/ners can not afford this additional e.pense' Insurance rates are also risin%' In May 2 4# insurance for transitin% the Gulf of Aden varied bet/een <ero and ' : percent' "oday it ran%es from ' : percent to '13: percent of the ship=s value per voya%e' Some ship o/ners are puttin% a surchar%e on all car%o transitin% Gulf of Aden' "here are concerns that some shippin% companies are ta-in% advanta%e of the piracy situation by raisin% rates and boostin% profit mar%ins in an other/ise bad economy' Reduced %lobal shippin% has forced rates do/n' "he piracy issue may %ive some shippin% companies an e.cuse to -eep rates artificially hi%h in order to help offset the effects of the economic do/nturn' A fe/ ship o/ners are reroutin% vessels around the Cape of Good &ope' "his adds 2 /ee-s and more cost to transit' Ships that travel at a slo/ speed and have a lo/ freeboard that can easily be boarded by pirates are especially susceptible to successful attac-' Any ship that travels at 15 -nots or more is difficult for pirates to board' *eather has a si%nificant impact on piracy activity' ;rom the end of May until early September is the monsoon season in this re%ion# /hich si%nificantly reduces the ability of pirates to operate their small s-iffs' &ence# there have been relatively fe/ pirate attac-s in recent months' "he hi%h season for piracy in the Indian Ocean area is (ust be%innin% and attac-s have already increased' Counterin% Piracy "here are 2 naval tas- forces operatin% in the area and a number of navy vessels that operate independently' At any %iven time# there are about 2:62 naval vessels patrollin% the re%ion' "he tas- forces include> 66Combined "as- ;orce61:1? 66A five6ship @+nited Ain%dom# +nited States# Greece# Italy and "ur-eyB CA"O tas- force? and 66 "he )uropean +nion=s Operation Atalanta' "he +'S' has employed P62 Orion maritime patrol aircraft off the Seychelles to search for pirate vessels and announced it /ould add unmanned surveillance vehicles' "here are 22: suspected Somali pirates (ailed in various countries# about half of them in Aenya' "he Seychelles and Demen have at least 2 each' Si%nificant numbers are said to be in Puntland and Somaliland# althou%h little is -no/n about the /ay they are incarcerated or the le%al process applied to them' As of Eune 2 !# Aenyan courts had convicted 1 pirates' Aenya=s (udicial system is# ho/ever# under e0uipped to deal /ith this influ.' "he typical captured pirate is a youn% Somali boy /ithout sophisticated /eaponry' "he pirate masters /ho live in Somalia or operate from forei%n ports are
2 almost never captured' Successful prosecution of pirates has been one of the bi%%est challen%es facin% those /ho are tryin% to put an end to piracy' ;orei%n naval vessels often capture pirates# disarm them and then set them free alon% the Somali coast' "his permits them to operate a%ain' Most /arships are not desi%ned to hold pirates for an e.tended period of time and the evidence a%ainst them mi%ht not hold up in a forei%n court' In Au%ust 2 !# for e.ample# a German /arship and a South Aorean naval vessel reportedly released captured Somali pirates in t/o separate cases' Some 5 pirate vessels have been sei<ed or destroyed since Au%ust 2 4' "here is an international Contact Group on counterin% piracy' It is coordinatin% efforts to miti%ate the problem' It no/ has a membership of 53 countries and 3 international or%ani<ations' A number of countries# includin% the +nited States# have si%ned the FCe/ Dor- Declaration'G It is a non6bindin% political statement /hereby si%natories a%ree to ur%e their fla%%ed commercial ships to adopt best practices to protect a%ainst pirate attac-s' "hese practices include increasin% loo-outs and -eepin% fire pumps ready to repel pirates' Related Issues "here has been considerable speculation about the possible lin- bet/een pirates and e.tremists or terrorists in Somalia' "here is %eneral a%reement that most Somali pirates are operatin% strictly on a profit ma-in% basis and have no formal lin-s /ith terrorism' "here are a fe/ reports# ho/ever# /hich su%%est a small number of pirates have ties to the Somali al6Shabaab or%ani<ation' It uses terrorist tactics and is tryin% to topple the "ransitional ;ederal Government @";GB of Somalia' An October 2 4 analysis in Jane’s Terrorism and Security Monitor made this connection' "he ";G=s first deputy prime minister also char%ed Somali pirates /ith brin%in% Muslim e.tremists to Somalia to fi%ht for al6Shabaab' "he ";G has re0uested assistance for a pilot pro(ect to create a Somali Coast Guard of !7 personnel e0uipped /ith 4 ;ast Patrol Craft and Coastal Observation "eams supported by a battalion of 12 Somali marines' "he )uropean +nion and the %overnment of the Philippines have offered to train a Somali Coast Guard' It /ill be some time# ho/ever# before any Somali force is effective' "here have traditionally been serious abuses by forei%n vessels fishin% ille%ally /ithin the Somali economic <one' "his fishin% has contributed to the destruction of the Somali fishin% industry and contributed to the rise of piracy' "here are also credible reports of occasional to.ic /aste dumpin% off Somali shores' "he international community has done virtually nothin% to end these harmful practices' "he piracy threat has resulted in some unusual naval cooperation' "his /ee-# for e.ample# Chinese and Russian anti6piracy patrols en%a%ed in a (oint e.ercise off the Somali coast' "here has also been %ood coordination bet/een American and Chinese naval vessels in efforts to reduce Somali piracy'