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Somali Piracy - The facts media hides

A collection of articles on the root causes




Root Causes of Somali Piracy: Nuclear Dumping and Seafood Looting


Written by Toward Freedom and Various Authors

Published:
14 April 2009

There has been a lot of discussion in the media about how to address piracy off the coast of Somalia. Much less attention has been given to the complex sources of political turmoil, poverty and pollution that have led many Somalis into piracy. In order to prevent more violent hijackings, Washington needs to understand the root causes of piracy.

What follows is a collection of recent reports and writing by investigative journalists and experts on the topic of piracy in Somalia. These reports focus on the fact that foreign shipping companies have been dumping nuclear waste off the coast of Somalia and looting the country's fishing industry. Many of Somalia's "pirates" initially organized to defend their coast against this pollution and robbery.


The above is a video interview of the Somali-Canadian Hip Hop artist K'naan with HardKnock TV discussing the context of what is being called Somali "piracy." Obviously, this was recorded before the current incident, but K'naan offers a perspective that is being systematically omitted by the corporate media in its coverage. Also, check out his song, "Somalia," on his latest album Troubador, which also addresses the issue. [From Jeremy Scahill at
Rebelreports.com]

In an article entitled "You Are Being Lied to About Pirates" Johann Hari of the The Independent writes:

In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since - and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury - you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation - and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."

This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia - and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence".

No, this doesn't make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters - especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas."

Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill wrote on his website Rebel Reports:

Consider what one pirate told The New York Times after he and his men seized a Ukrainian freighter  "loaded with tanks, artillery, grenade launchers and ammunition" last year. "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits," said Sugule Ali:. "We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard." Now, that "coast guard" analogy is a stretch, but his point is an important and widely omitted part of this story. Indeed the Times article was titled, "Somali Pirates Tell Their Side: They Want Only Money." Yet, The New York Times acknowledged, "the piracy industry started about 10 to 15 years ago… as a response to illegal fishing."

Take this fact: Over $300 million worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are "being stolen every year by illegal trawlers" off Somalia's coast, forcing the fishing industry there into a state of virtual non-existence.

In an article entitled, Why We Don't Condemn Our Pirates in Somalia, Somali Hip Hop artist K'Naan writes in Alternet that

Now Somalia has upped the world's pirate attacks by over 21 percent in one year, and while NATO and the EU are both sending forces to the Somali coast to try and slow down the attacks, Blackwater and all kinds of private security firms are intent on cashing in. But while Europeans are well in their right to protect their trade interest in the region, our pirates were the only deterrent we had from an externally imposed environmental disaster. No one can say for sure that some of the ships they are now holding for ransom were not involved in illegal activity in our waters. The truth is, if you ask any Somali if they think getting rid of the pirates only means the continuous rape of our coast by unmonitored Western vessels, and the production of a new cancerous generation, we would all fly our pirate flags high.

It is time that the world gave the Somali people some assurance that these Western illegal activities will end, if our pirates are to seize their operations. We do not want the EU and NATO serving as a shield for these nuclear waste-dumping hoodlums. It seems to me that this new modern crisis is a question of justice, but also a question of whose justice. As is apparent these days, one man's pirate is another man's coast guard.

In "The Two Piracies in Somalia: Why the World Ignores the Other?" on Wardheernews.com, journalist Mohamed Abshir Waldo quotes one Somali fisherman who has been repressed by fish robbers: 

"They are not only taking and robbing us of our fish, but they are also trying to stop us from fishing," said Jeylani Shaykh Abdi, a fisherman in Merca, 100km south of Mogadishu. "They have rammed our boats and cut our nets", he added. Another Merca fisherman, Mohamed Hussein, said [Our] existence depends on the fish. He accused the international community of "talking only about the piracy problem in Somalia, but not about the destruction of our coast and our lives by these foreign ships." Jeylani noted that the number of foreign ships had increased over time. "It is now normal to see them on a daily basis, a few miles off our shores"

For some background into how the US created instability in Somalia, see this article by Rebecca Macaux and Philip Primeau on Counterpunch - What We Have Sown: Somali Piracy and American Foreign Policy 

Also see this interview with Somali Pirates by the New York Times: Somali Pirates Tell Their Side: They Want Only Money

For more analysis and background information on piracy in Somalia and the US response, visit Jeremy Scahill's Rebel Reports website.

(Photo from Flickr [email protected])








THE TWO PIRACIES IN SOMALIA: WHY THE WORLD IGNORES THE OTHER?

By Mohamed Abshir Waldo
Jan. 08, 2009


THE SHIPPING PIRACY & THE INVASION OF THE SOMALI SEAS


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.

THE ILLEGAL FISHING PIRACY

The other more damaging economically, environmentally and security-wise is the massive illegal foreign fishing piracy that have been poaching and destroying the Somali marine resources for the last 18 years following the collapse of the Somali regime in 1991. With its usual double standards when such matters concern Africa, the “international community” comes out in force to condemn and declare war against the Somali fishermen pirates while discreetly protecting the numerous Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing fleets there from Europe, Arabia and the Far East.

Biased UN resolutions, big power orders and news reports continue to condemn the hijackings of merchant ships by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. If response to both piracy menaces was balanced and fair, these condemnations would have been justified. European Union (EU), Russia, Japan, India, Egypt and Yemen are all on this piracy campaign, mainly to cover up and protect their illegal fishing fleets in the Somali waters.

In all these piracy ballyhoo and campaigns, why is the other key IUUs fishing piracy ignored? Why are the UN Resolutions, NATO Orders and EU Decrees to invade the Somali seas fail to include the protection of the Somali marine resources from IUU violations in the same waters? Not only is this outrageous fishing piracy disregarded but the illegal foreign marine poachers are being encouraged to continue their loot by as none of the current Resolutions, Orders and Decrees apply to the IUUs, which can now freely fish in and violate the Somali seas. The Somali fishermen can no longer scare away the IUUs for fear of being labeled pirates and attacked by the foreign navies unlawfully controlling the Somali waters. Even the traditional Somali trading dhows are in panic of being mistaken for pirates.

a) The IUU Menace and Fish Laundering Practice

There is no doubt IUU is a serious global problem. According to the High Seas Task Force (HSTF), IUU does not respect national boundaries or sovereignty, puts unsustainable pressure on stocks, marine life and habitats, undermines labor standards and distorts markets. “IUU fishing is detrimental to the wider marine ecosystem because it flouts rules designed to protect the marine environment which includes restrictions to harvest Juveniles, closed spawning grounds and gear modification designed to minimize by-catch on non-target species….In so doing they steal an invaluable protein source from some of the world’s poorest people and ruin the livelihoods of some legitimate fishermen; incursions by trawlers into the inshore areas reserved for artisanal fishing can result in collision with local fishing boats, destruction of fishing gear and deaths of fishermen” says HSTF. In its report, Closing the Net: Stopping Illegal Fishing on the High Seas, HSTF puts worldwide value of IUU catches at $4 to $9 billion, large part of it from Sub-Sahara Africa, particularly Somalia.

IUUs practice fish catch laundering through mother ship factories, transshipment and re-supply at sea. “This means that vessels can remain at sea for months, refueling, re-supplying and rotating their crew. IUU fishing vessels never need to enter ports because they transfer their catches onto transport ships. Illegally caught fish are laundered by mixing with legally caught fish on board transport vessels”, writes HSTF. Apparently, fish laundering, which generates hundreds of millions dollars in the black market is not as criminal as money laundering! Countries used for Somali fish laundering include Seychelles, Mauritius and Maldives.

As EU closed much of its fishing waters for 5 to 15 years for fish regeneration, as Asia over fished its seas, as international demand increases for nutritious marine products and as the fear of worldwide food shortage grows, the rich, uncontrolled and unprotected Somali seas became the target of the fishing fleets of many nations. Surveys by UN, Russian and Spanish assessors just before the collapse of the Barre Regime in 1991 estimated that 200,000 tones of fish a year could be caught by both artisanal and industrial fisheries and this is the objective of the international fishing racket

There is no doubt that the actions of the shipping pirates are reprehensible and this paper does not seek to justify or explain their odious actions. They must be stopped. But the notorious shipping piracy is unlikely to be resolved without simultaneously attending to the fraudulent IUU piracy, too.

b) The Origin of the Somali Piracy War

The origin of the two piracies goes back to 1992 after the fall of the Gen. Siyad Barre regime and the disintegration of the Somali Navy and Police Coastguard services. Following severe draughts in 1974 and 1986, tens of thousands of nomads, whose livestock were wiped out by the draughts, were re-settled all along the villages on the long, 3300kms Somali coast. They developed into large fishing communities whose livelihood depended inshore fishing. From the beginnings of the civil war in Somalia (as early as 1991/1992) illegal fishing trawlers started to trespass and fish in Somali waters, including the 12-mile inshore artisanal fishing waters. The poaching vessels encroached on the local fishermen’s grounds, competing for the abundant rock-lobster and high value pelagic fish in the warm, up-swelling 60kms deep shelf along the tip of the Horn of Africa.

The piracy war between local fishermen and IUUs started here. Local fishermen documented cases of trawlers pouring boiling water on the fishermen in canoes, their nets cut or destroyed, smaller boats crushed, killing all the occupants, and other abuses suffered as they tried to protect their national fishing turf. Later, the fishermen armed themselves. In response, many of the foreign fishing vessels armed themselves with more sophisticated weapons and began to overpower the fishermen. It was only a matter of time before the local fishermen reviewed their tactics and modernized their hardware. This cycle of warfare has been going on from 1991 to the present. It is now developing into fully fledged, two-pronged illegal fishing and shipping piracy conflicts.

According to the High Seas Task Force (HSTF), there were over 800 IUUs fishing vessels in Somali waters at one time in 2005 taking advantage of Somalia’s inability to police and control its own waters and fishing grounds. The IUUs, which are estimated take out more than $450 million in fish value out of Somalia annually, neither compensate the local fishermen, pay tax, royalties nor do they respect any conservation and environmental regulations – norms associated with regulated fishing. It is believed that IUUs from the EU alone take out of the country more than five times the value of its aid to Somalia every year.

Illegal foreign fishing trawlers which have being fishing in Somalia since 1991 are mostly owned by EU and Asian fishing companies – Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Russia, Britain, Ukraine, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Yemen, Egypt and many others. Illegal vessels captured on the Somali coast by Somali fishermen during 1991 and 1999 included Taiwanese trawlers Yue Fa No. 3 and Chian Yuein No.232, FV Shuen Kuo No.11; MV Airone, MV De Giosa Giuseppe and MV Antonietta, all 3 Italian vessels registered in Italy; MV Bahari Hindi, Kenyan registered but owned and managed by Marship Co. of Mombasa. A number of Italian registered SHIFCO vessels, Korean and Ukrainian trawlers, Indian, Egyptian and Yemeni boats were also captured by fishermen and ransoms of different sizes paid for their release. Many Spanish seiners, frequent violators of the Somali fishing grounds, managed to evade capture at various times.

According to a report in the Daily Nation of October 14, 2004, even Kenyan registered fishing vessels are known to have participated in the rape of the Somali fishing grounds. In October 2004, Mr Andrew Mwangura, Kenya Coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP) asked the Kenya Government to help stop illegal fishing in Somalia. “Since Somalia has been without government for more than 11 years, Kenya trawlers have been illegally fishing along the country’s territorial waters contrary to the UNCLOS and the FAO instruments, he said. SAP further reported that 19 Kenyan registered fishing vessels also operated illegally in the Somalia waters.

In arrangements with Somali warlords, new companies were formed abroad for bogus fishing licensing purposes. Jointly owned mafia Somali-European companies set up in Europe and Arabia worked closely with Somali warlords who issued them fake fishing “licenses” to any foreign fishing pirate willing to plunder the Somali marine resources. UK and Italy based African and Middle East Trading Co. (AFMET), PALMERA and UAE based SAMICO companies were some of the corrupt vehicles issuing such counterfeit licenses as well as fronting for the warlords who shared the loot.

Among technical advisors to the Mafia companies – AFMET, PALMIRA & SAMICO - were supposedly reputable firms like MacAllister Elliot & Partners of the UK. Warlords Gen. Mohamed Farah Aidiid, Gen. Mohamed Hersi Morgan, Osman Atto and Ex-President Ali Mahdi Mohamed officially and in writing gave authority to AFMET to issue fishing “licenses”, which local fishermen and marine experts call it simply a “deal between thieves”. According to Africa Analysis of November 13, 1998, AFMET alone “licensed” 43 seiners (mostly Spanish, at $30,000 per 4-month season. Spanish Pesca Nova was “licensed” by AFMET while French Cobracaf group got theirs from SAMICO at a much discounted rate of $15,000 per season per vessel.

Not to be outdone, in October 1999 Puntland Administration, gave carte blanche to another Mafia group known as PIDC, registered in Oman to fish, issue licenses and to police the Puntland coast. PIDC in turn contracted Hart Group of the UK and together they pillaged the Somali fishing grounds with vengeance, making over $20 million profit within two years. The deal was to split the profits but PIDC failed to share the spoils with Puntland administration, resulting in revocation of their licenses. Having reneged on their part of the deal, PIDC/Hart quit the country with their handsomely won chips.

Somali Complaints and Appeals on Illegal Fishing & Hazardous Waste Dumping

Another major problem closely connected with the IUUs and illegal fishing is industrial, toxic and nuclear waste dumping in both off-shore and on-shore areas of Somalia. Somali authorities, local fishermen, civil society organizations and international organizations have reported and warned of the dangerous consequences of these criminal actions. In a Press Statement dated 16 Sept 1991, the SSDF, which then administered the Northeastern Regions of Somalia, sternly warned “all unauthorized and illegal foreign fishing vessels in the Somali waters are prohibited, with immediate effect, to undertake any further illegal fishing and to stay clear of the Somali waters”. In April 1992, SSDF Chairman, Gen. Mohamed Abshir Musse wrote to the then Italian Foreign Minister, Gianni De Michelis, drawing his attention to the robbery of the Somali marine resources and ecosystem destruction by unlicensed Italian trawlers.

In September 1995, leaders of all the Somali political factions of the day (12 of them) and two major Somali NGO Networks jointly wrote to the UN Secretary General, Dr Boutros Boutros Ghali, with copies to the EU, Arab League, OIC, OAU and to other involved parties, detailing the illegal fishing and hazardous material dumping crises in the Somali sea waters and requesting the UN to set up a body to manage and protect these waterways. They pointed out that since ICAO already manages the Somali airspace, so could IMO or a newly created organization run Somalia’s seas until an effective Somali national government is able to take control of it. Again, from 1998 to 2006, consecutive Ministers of Fisheries of Puntland State of Somalia have repeatedly appealed to the international community: UN, EC, African Union, Arab League and to individual nations, advising the members states of these organizations to help keep poaching vessels and crews from their countries out of the Somali waters. The Ministers also complained of oil spills, toxic and nuclear waste dumping in the Somali coast.

Somali fishermen in various regions of the country also complained to the international community about the illegal foreign fishing, stealing the livelihoods of poor fishermen, waste dumping and other ecological disasters, including the indiscriminate use of all prohibited methods of fishing: drift nets, under water explosives, killing all “endangered species” like sea-turtles, orca, sharks, baby whales, etc. as well as destroying reef, biomass and vital fish habitats in the sea (IRIN of March 9, 2006). Fishermen in Somalia have appealed to the United Nations and the international community to help them rid the country's shores of foreign ships engaged in illegal fishing. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated 700 foreign-owned vessels were engaged in unlicensed fishing in Somali waters in 2005. However, FAO said it was "impossible to monitor their fishery production in general, let alone the state of the fishery resources they are exploiting….there is also strong suspicion of illegal dumping of industrial and nuclear wastes along the Somali coast", IRIN 09/03/06.

"They are not only taking and robbing us of our fish, but they are also trying to stop us from fishing," said Jeylani Shaykh Abdi, a fisherman in Merca, 100km south of Mogadishu. "They have rammed our boats and cut our nets", he added. Another Merca fisherman, Mohamed Hussein, said [Our] existence depends on the fish. He accused the international community of "talking only about the piracy problem in Somalia, but not about the destruction of our coast and our lives by these foreign ships." Jeylani noted that the number of foreign ships had increased over time. "It is now normal to see them on a daily basis, a few miles off our shores" (IRIN 09/03/06).

Describing the activity as "economic terrorism", Somali fishermen told IRIN that the poachers were not only plundering the fish but were also dumping rubbish and oil into the sea. They complained the Somali government was not strong enough to stop it. "We want the international agencies to help us deal with this problem," said Hussein. "If nothing is done about them, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters." Musse Gabobe Hassan and Mohamud Hassan Tako of the Mogadishu Maritime and Fisheries Institute accuse foreign ships of illegal fishing and dumping of hazardous waste in Somali waters. “Somalia’s coastal communities who eke their livelihood from the sea are appealing to the international community for help stop the illegal fishing fleets from both the developed and developing countries that are robbing our marine wealth and destroying its habitats”, they added.

Like the UN Security Council, Chatham House, an International Affairs Think-Tank, in a much publicized recent Paper on piracy in Somalia failed to present a balanced view of the issue and concentrated on the shipping piracy side of the coin. Roger Middleton, the author of the Paper, however, mentions in passing that European, Asian and African (Egypt and Kenya) illegally fish in the Somalia waters. In ignoring the principal IUU factor, the origin and the purpose of the shipping piracy, UN and Roger Middleton seem to be either misled or pressured to take this one-sided course by powerful interests who want to cover up and protect the profitable business of illegal fishing.

These crises of the illegal fishing, waste dumping, warlords/mafia deals and the loud complaints of the Somali fishermen and civil society have been known to UN agencies and international organizations all along. The UN Agencies and organizations, which have been fully aware of these crises, often expressed concern and lamentations but never took any positive action against these criminal activities. It appears as if they have also failed to inform the UN Security Council of this tragedy before it passed its resolutions 1816 and 1838 early this year.

Mr. Ould Abdalla, UN Secretary General Special Envoy for Somalia, who should know better, continued to condemn Somali shipping piracy in a number of press statements and rightly so though biased. In his latest Press Statement of 11/11/08 on the subject matter, he warmly welcomed the agreement by European Union member states to send ships to combat piracy off Somalia. “I am extremely pleased by the EU’s decision,” said Mr Ould-Abdallah. “Piracy off the Somali coast is posing a serious threat to the freedom of international navigation and regional security”. But he forgot to condemn fishing piracy, mention the Somali fishing communities’ livelihood security or to propose concrete actions to deal with the two inter-related piracies, which are like the two sides of the same coin.

An FAO study, Somalia’s Fishery Review by Frans Teutscher, Nov. 11, 2005, states, “In the absence of legal framework and/or for capacities for monitoring, control and surveillance, extensive illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) is taking place and considerable quantities of non-targeted by catch are discarded because they cannot presently be utilized”. The report said that the foreign IUUs maximize their catch by fishing throughout the year without regard to the wider marine ecosystem, not respecting fish and crustacean spawning periods or irreparable damage done by their massive drift nets and use of explosives or the loss of local fishermen’s livelihood.

In a letter to the SSDF dated January 1998, Mr. Dominic Langenbacher, UNDP Somalia Resident Representative, expressed his apprehension of the danger posed to the Somali marine resources and environment by foreign vessels. “The concern of the international community is that the threat of toxic waste dumping, pirate fishing by foreign vessels and over fishing of Somali stocks could adversely, and perhaps permanently, affect the ecosystem of the entire region” he said. “Furthermore, Somalia currently has no provision to deal with potential oil spills or other marine disasters and has no capability to monitor and control her coastal waters and, if necessary, provide sea search or rescue operations”, he added.

Dr Mustafa Tolba, former Executive Director of UNEP, confirmed that Italian companies were dumping lethal toxic waste in Somalia which might “contribute to the loss of life in the already devastated country”. Dr Tolba added that the shipment of the toxic wastes from Italy that could also aggravate the destruction of the ecosystem in Somalia “earned a company, which ships the waste, between 2 to 3 million dollars in profits”, (Sunday Nation, 06/09/92).

In a proposal for action to the UNDP for Somalia in early 1990s, Mr. John Laurence, a fishery consultant with PanOcena Resources Ltd, reports the catastrophic and heartbreaking illegal foreign exploitation of the Somali seas. “With regards to the controlled exploitation of the Somali deep sea fishing grounds by the huge foreign factory ships and vessels it is our opinion that the UN must get involved. This area is recognized as one of the 5 richest fishing zones of the world and previously unexploited. It is now being ravaged, unchecked by any authority, and if it continues to be fished at the level it is at present stocks are in danger of being depleted …. So, a world resource is under serious threat and the UN is sitting back doing nothing to prevent it”. “Secondly, the Somali people are being denied any income from this resource due to their inability to license and police the zone” and “ the UN is turning a blind eye to the activities of the fishing vessels whose operators are not paying their dues; which in any other circumstances would be enforced by any international court of law”, argues Laurence.

Surprisingly, the UN disregarded its own findings of the violations, ignored the Somali and international appeals to act on the continued ravaging of the Somali marine resources and dumping of hazardous wastes. Instead, the UN and the big powers, invoking Charter IIV of the UN Charter, decided to “enter the territorial waters of Somalia……and ..…use, within the territorial waters of Somalia ….all necessary means to identify, deter, prevent, and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery, including but not limited to boarding, searching, and seizing vessels engaged in or suspected of engaging in acts of piracy or armed robbery, and to apprehend persons engaged in such acts with a view to such persons being prosecuted” (Resolution 1816).

It should be noted that there is no mention of the illegal fishing piracy, hazardous waste dumping or the plight of the Somali fishermen in the UN Resolutions. Justice and fairness have been overlooked in these twin problems of FISHING PIRACY and SHIPPING PIRACY.

The Illegality and Impracticality of the actions of the UN, NATO and EU

This Global Armada is in the Somali waters illegally as it is not approved by the Somali Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP). It is also unlikely it will achieve its stated objectives to curb the shipping piracy as it is now conceived. The TFP and the members of the European Parliament rejected these UN and European decisions to police the Somali seas (both the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden) as both illegal and unworkable. At a Press Conference in Nairobi on October 18th 2008, the Deputy Speaker of the TFP, Mohamed Omar Dalha, termed the deployment of foreign warships to the country's coast to fight piracy as invasion of its sovereignty and asked the foreign warships to “move out of the Somali waters”. The Speaker questioned the intent of the deployment and suggested that the powers involved had a hidden agenda. He said if these powers were genuine in curbing the piracy they would have supported and empowered the Somali authorities, who would be more effective in stopping the menace. “If the millions of dollars given to the pirates or wasted in the warship policing there were given to us, we would have eliminated this curse”, he said.

Several EU members of parliament (MEPs) called the EU naval mission to be deployed against pirates off the coasts of Somalia as a "military nonsense," "morally wrong" and having "no international legal basis." German green MEP Angelika Beer underlined the lack of international law to sustain the proposed European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) mission. "There is no clarity to the limitations of this mandate. Will the EU be able to sink ships and arrest pirates?" she asked. Portuguese socialist MEP Ana Maria Gomes gave a fiery speech on the "moral problem" of the EU mission, which, in her opinion, is only about "protecting oil tankers." "Nobody gives a damn about the people in Somalia who die like flies," she said (EU Observer of 15th October 2008).

Conclusion

The EU, NATO and US Navies can, of course, Rambo and obliterate the fishermen pirates and their supporting coastal communities but that would be illegal, criminal act. Yet, it may temporarily reduce the intensity of the shipping piracy but it would not result in a long-term solution of the problem. The risk of loss of life of foreign crews and ecological impact of major oil spill would be a marine catastrophe of gigantic proportions for the whole coastal regions of East Africa and the Gulf of Aden. In their current operations, the Somali fishermen pirates genuinely believe that they are protecting their fishing grounds (both 12-mile territorial and EEZ waters). They also feel that they exacting justice and compensation for the marine resources stolen and the destroyed ecosystem by the IUUs. And their thinking is shared and fully supported by the coastal communities, whose protectors and providers they became.

The matter needs careful review and better understanding of the local environment. The piracy is based on local problems and it requires a number of comprehensive joint local and external partners approaches.

Firstly, practical and lasting solution lies in jointly addressing the twin problems of the shipping piracy and the illegal fishing piracy, the root cause of the crisis.

Secondly, the national institutional crisis should be reviewed along with the piracy issues.

Thirdly, local institutions should be involved and supported, particularly by helping to form coastguards, training and coastguard facilities. These may sound asking too much to donors and UN agencies. But we should ask what it meant those who paid tens of millions dollars of ransom and their loved ones held hostage for months.

Fourthly, a joint Somali and UN agency like the present ICAO for the Somali airspace should be considered.



By Mohamed Abshir Waldo,
Journalist/Consultant SANDI CONSULTING & ASSOCIATES
E-Mail:[email protected]

Source: Daljir







You are being lied to about pirates

Some are clearly just gangsters. But others are trying to stop illegal dumping and trawling


By Johann Hari

The Independent, 5 January 2009



Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labelling as "one of the great menaces of our times" have an extraordinary story to tell – and some justice on their side.

Pirates have never been quite who we think they are. In the "golden age of piracy" – from 1650 to 1730 – the idea of the pirate as the senseless, savage Bluebeard that lingers today was created by the British government in a great propaganda heave. Many ordinary people believed it was false: pirates were often saved from the gallows by supportive crowds. Why? What did they see that we can't? In his book Villains Of All Nations, the historian Marcus Rediker pores through the evidence.

If you became a merchant or navy sailor then – plucked from the docks of London's East End, young and hungry – you ended up in a floating wooden Hell. You worked all hours on a cramped, half-starved ship, and if you slacked off, the all-powerful captain would whip you with the Cat O' Nine Tails. If you slacked often, you could be thrown overboard. And at the end of months or years of this, you were often cheated of your wages.

Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied – and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively, without torture. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls "one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the eighteenth century".

They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed "quite clearly – and subversively – that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal Navy." This is why they were romantic heroes, despite being unproductive thieves.

The words of one pirate from that lost age, a young British man called William Scott, should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: "What I did was to keep me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirateing to live." In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."

This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence".

No, this doesn't make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas." William Scott would understand.

Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our toxic waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We won't act on those crimes – the only sane solution to this problem – but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 per cent of the world's oil supply, we swiftly send in the gunboats.

The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarised by another pirate, who lived and died in the fourth century BC. He was captured and brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know "what he meant by keeping possession of the sea." The pirate smiled, and responded: "What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor." Once again, our great imperial fleets sail – but who is the robber?








What We Have Sown

Somali Piracy and American Foreign Policy


By REBECCA MACAUX And PHILIP PRIMEAU

CounterPunch, April 14, 2009


With the explosion of Somali piracy, America is reaping what it has sown. In many ways, we have nobody to blame but ourselves for the emergence of high-seas crime threatening to disrupt important lanes of trade.

America’s support for a violent strongman during Somalia’s formative post-colonial years hindered the development of stable political institutions and severely complicated its capacity for effective self-rule and sustainable growth.

The country’s markets are also victims of foreign meddling, fatalities of the backhanded ‘charity’ which has made Western actors—and especially the U.S.—distrusted throughout the Third World. Rendered economically impotent through the misapplication of aid and assistance by the U.S. government and various NGOs, it is no surprise that Somalis have turned to brigandry for sustenance.

These actions we are now witnessing are not crimes of maliciousness or greed, but of desperation. They are sins of last resort.

* * *

Modern Somalia was formed from the 1960 union of two European colonies, one British, the other Italian. What began as an exercise in constitutional democracy rapidly devolved into a dictatorship under the command of Maxamed Siyaad Barre.

Although Barre originally aligned his nation with the USSR, the relationship soured in 1977-79. Moscow eventually abandoned Somalia altogether, throwing its weight behind neighboring Ethiopia in a conflict over the disputed Ogaden region.

Reeling from the Soviet betrayal, Barre appealed to America for military assistance in the fighting of foreign wars and the suppression of internal resistance. In typical fashion, President Carter waffled, green lighting the shipment of munitions but then changing his mind at the critical moment.

Deprived of a sympathetic great power, Somali forces were run out of the Ogaden by a combined Ethiopian-Cuban-Soviet task force. Barre’s regime teetered on the verge of collapse.

However, under the consummate Cold Warrior Ronald Reagan, America suddenly renewed its interest in the Horn of Africa. Henry Kissinger met personally with Barre, and in 1981 the U.S. began supplying the dictator with arms and some $100 million per year.

In exchange, America was granted control of the deep-sea port of Berbera on the Gulf of Aden. Berbera was deemed of considerable strategic significance in countering Soviet designs in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. It had the added advantage of overlooking a key oil route.

Fortifying his rule with American weapons and treasure, Barre managed to survive the Cold War. His nation was not so lucky.

* * *

Like most Third World pawns, Barre’s regime was fundamentally unsound, necessitating ever greater levels of financial aid. At the conclusion of the Cold War, American politicians downgraded Somalia’s importance, deeming it an unnecessary expenditure.

As American patronage waned, unrest turned to full-fledged civil war. Barre was ousted in 1991 and died of heart attack in 1995. In the intervening years, America attempted a ‘humanitarian invasion’ of Somalia. It ended in the humiliation of the ‘Black Hawk Down’ fiasco. By then, Somalia was overwhelmed by the anarchy with which its name is now synonymous.

Despite America’s loud talk of championing democracy and human rights abroad, we encouraged neither during Somalia’s crucial post-colonial years. Although our sponsorship of Barre afforded opportunities aplenty for promoting responsible governance, we instead enabled a tradition of illiberal rule-by-force.

Somalia entered the 1990s with an economy as nonexistent as its political institutions. This too was the fault of American and Western planners.

Over the years, its markets atrophied as its people grew accustomed to the foreign dole. Somalia’s agricultural industry was undermined by shipment after shipment of crops, which were sold at exaggeratedly low prices to the detriment of local farmers, who simply could not compete.

Without an organic market of indigenous producers, Somalis were forced into a cycle of dependency. How ironic: In the hopes of eliminating starvation in Somalia, we in fact eliminated the country’s ability to feed itself, making starvation all but inevitable.

The situation was exacerbated by a legacy of man-made famines and refugee crises. These humanitarian emergencies were engineered by Barre with the tacit approval of the United States, which steadily stoked a regime driving its country into the ground.

Barre was notorious for hording food aid, lavishing it upon an ever-tightening circle of ethnic supporters and withholding it from the nation’s other clans, which were increasingly at odds with his regime.

With the cessation of large scale food aid from the U.S., Barre was robbed of a major power-preserving tool. With next to no support among the populace, he was forced from office.

However, Somali clans continue to extract significant food aid from foreign agents, especially NGOs like Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere and Save the Children. Food in Somalia is explicitly political, used to reward allegiance and punish resistance. In this way, Westerners are fueling a conflict that might already have run its course without outside interference.

* * *

Earlier on, we said that America is reaping what it has sown. That statement stands, insomuch as piracy is a symptom of a land made lawless by the lasting damage of cruel, U.S. supported regime that seeded dysfunction and violence.

However, seen in another light, America is reaping what it did not sow. For more than a decade, Barre existed at the mercy of U.S. funding. He depended upon our calculated ‘kindness’ in every way.

We could have used such total reliance to seed democracy; to facilitate the development of sustainable economic structures and stable political institutions; to nourish Somali agriculture, build its industrial capacity, and protect its waters from the overpowering foreign fishing operations which have led many sea-going Somalis to piracy.

Instead, we allowed Barre to brutalize his people, never exerting the slightest pressure for reform.

Instead, we paralyzed an already weak market, giving hand-outs rather than hand-ups, and extinguishing local farming through a disastrous IMF structural adjustment program.

Americans are in a frenzy over the advance of Somali thugs upon American merchants. What they do not understand is our country’s role in undoing the very fabric of Somali society—in the creation of a power vacuum that allows criminals free rein—over the past twenty-five years.

Somalia is a case study in unintended consequences, in good intentions gone awry, in the bad karma of realpolitik.

America must learn to be highly conscientious of who it aids and how it aids them. It must accept that actions have consequences, that we are not immune to the forces of reaction. It must recognize that short-term Machiavellian tactics are no substitute for long-term developmental strategies. The latter will help produce a more just and equitable world; the former will surely come back to haunt.

REBECCA MACAUX and PHILIP PRIMEAU blog at Who-Whom and can be reached at: [email protected]





 


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