Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The international community must not attack pirate bases along the Somali coast

I participated in two radio programs today on Somali piracy. The first was NPR's Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane out of WHYY in Philadelphia, and the second was Gary Scott's KCRW To the Point/Which Way, LA? out of Los Angeles. I made the following points:
The long-term solution to the piracy problem is the establishment of a Somali government that has the support of the Somali people, a commitment to stop piracy and the resources to implement an anti-piracy policy on land and the sea. The international community should step up its efforts to support the current Somali government. As part of the solution, the international community should also begin now to take steps to end illegal foreign fishing off the coast of Somalia. In recent decades, this fishing has negatively impacted the ability of Somali fishermen to continue with this livelihood. Having said that, piracy has become so lucrative that some Somalis will not return to fishing even if the illegal foreign fishing comes to an end. Consequently, there must be additional short-term measures to end piracy. It is not realistic to expect anytime soon the creation of a widely-accepted Somali government that can solve the problem. The criminal pirate gangs must pay a higher price for their illegal activity. This should include putting more armed teams on some commercial vessels with instructions to use live ammunition when attacked by pirates in international waters. In those cases where there is incontrovertible intelligence that pirates are using "mother ships" in international waters, the international community should be prepared to sink them. At the same time, I do not support attacks on pirate bases along the Somali coast. There are too many of these bases. Intelligence is not adequate on where the pirates live in these locations. There would be too much killing of innocent Somalis. This response might put the lives of remaining hostages in danger. Even if international forces cleaned out one pirate base, there would be new pirate recruits within weeks, because there is too much money to be made in this criminal activity.
To listen to the interview with WHYY, click on the link below (my interview starts about 15 minutes into the clip):

The KCRW audio is accessible via the link above, or here.

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