The Two Piracies in Somalia

by Chris Sturr | April 14, 2009

Democracy Now! had an interesting segment today shedding some light on the root causes of piracy off the coast of Somalia. Here’s an excerpt of the transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: While the pirates story has dominated the corporate media, there has been little to no discussion of the root causes driving piracy.

Mohamed Abshir Waldo is a consultant and analyst in Kenya. He is Kenyan of Somali origin. In January, he wrote a paper called “The Two Piracies in Somalia: Why the World Ignores the Other?” He joins us on the phone right now from Mombasa.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

MOHAMED ABSHIR WALDO: Hello. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Good to have you with us. Can you talk about what you think the two piracies are?

MOHAMED ABSHIR WALDO: Well, the two piracies are the original one, which was foreign fishing piracy by foreign trawlers and vessels, who at the same time were dumping industrial waste, toxic waste and, it also has been reported, nuclear waste. Most of the time, we feel it’s the same fishing vessels, foreign fishing vessels, that are doing both. That was the piracy that started all these problems.

And the other piracy is the shipping piracy. When the marine resources of Somalia was pillaged, when the waters were poisoned, when the fish was stolen, and in a poverty situation in the whole country, the fishermen felt that they had no other possibilities or other recourse but to fight with, you know, the properties and the shipping of the same countries that have been doing and carrying on the fishing piracy and toxic dumping.

Read the rest of the transcript (video available too).

An excerpt from Mohamed Abshir Waldo’s article:

Much of the world’s attention is currently focused on the Somali sea lanes. The navies of big and small powers are converging on the Somali waters in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. The recent hijacking of the Saudi oil tanker and Ukrainian MV Faina, laden with arms for Kenya, off the coast of Somalia by Somali pirates captured world media attention. War has been rightly declared against this notorious new shipping piracy. But the older and mother of all piracies in Somalia—illegal
foreign fishing piracy—in the Somali seas is ignored, underlining the international community’s misunderstanding and partiality of the underlying interdependent issues involved and the impracticality of the proposed actions to find ways to effectively resolve the piracy threat.

A chorus of calls for tougher international action resulted in multi-national and unilateral Naval stampede to invade and take control of the Somali territorial and EEZ waters. The UN Security Council, a number of whose members may have ulterior motives to indirectly protect their illegal fishing fleets in the Somali Seas, passed Resolutions 1816 and 1838, giving a license to any nation who wants a piece of the Somali marine cake. Both NATO and the EU issued Orders to the same effect and Russia, Japan, India, Malaysia, Egypt, Yemen and anyone else who could afford an armed boat and its crew on the sea for a few months joined the fray.

For years, attempts made to address piracy in the world’s seas through UN resolutions have failed to pass largely because many of the member nations felt such resolutions would infringe greatly on their sovereignty and security and have been unwilling to give up control and patrol of their own waters. UN Resolutions 1816 and 1838, which were objected to by a number of West African, Caribbean and South American nations, was then tailored to apply to Somalia only, which had no strong enough Somali representation at the United Nations to demand amendments to protect its
sovereignty. Also Somali civil society objections to the Draft Resolutions were ignored.

This massive “Global Armada” invasion is carried out on the pretext to protect the busy shipping trade routes of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean from Somali shipping piracy, which threatens to disrupt these international lifeline sea ways. While there are two equally nasty, criminal, inhuman and exploiting gangs of pirates in Somalia, only one of them is publicized by the western media: the Somali shipping pirates attacking merchant shipping in these sea lanes, where the illegal poachers are also actively operating.

Read the rest of the article.

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