Monday, April 13, 2009

The solution to Somali piracy must involve a solution on the ground in Somalia

I was quoted extensively in Ali Gharib's article for the Inter Press Service (IPS) titled "U.S. Navy Snookered in Pirate Hostage Drama." The article has been reprinted by,, and Rantburg, and posted on the websites of the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Image: The Somali coast harbours pirates in speedboats with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. (Canadian Press). Here are the quotes:
"They're making so much money from piracy that fishing can’t compete," said Amb. David Shinn, who has been stationed in Somalia’s neighbour, Ethiopia, and currently is a professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Shinn also doubts that commercial fisheries are even still operating along the dangerous Somali coast. "There's certainly total agreement between people looking at this problem - in and out of the military - that there is virtually no solution of this problem of piracy until you have a solution on the ground in Somalia," he told IPS. "Unfortunately, that's not going to happen overnight." "In the meantime, in order to prevent or reduce these incidents, I would take tougher action in the sea," he said. "It means danger and risk, but you have to do something." Shinn suggests that ships in danger employ small security crews, as a few have. "When you have a fast moving skiff coming at you in the ocean, you shoot a flare at it," he said. "And they turn around and go for [a ship] that doesn't have someone shooting a flare at them." Shinn also suggests that if good intelligence exists on "mother ships" – usually trawlers or other larger boats used to launch the smaller quick boats – they should be sunk. "That's a tough action, and there's a great reluctance to do that," he said, "but until there's a government in Somalia, I would do that."

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