While the world has been watching the rise of the left – from Obama’s ascendancy to the reorganisation of political parties across South America, another game has been in play – the ascendency of the Pirate King.
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle, and loot,
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot,
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
While Johnny Depp brought smiles to our faces though the Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s the Somali Pirates who are writing the script in 2009. On the 7th April this year hijackers off Somalia’s coast seized five ships in 48 hours. The pirates eluded the armada of warships from more than a dozen nations patrolling Somalia’s seas.
According to Wikipedia piracy off the Somali coast has been a threat to international shipping since the beginning of Somalia’s civil war in the early 1990s. Since 2005, many international organisations, including the International Maritime Organization and the World Food Programme, have expressed concern over the rise in acts of piracy. Piracy has contributed to a rise in shipping costs and impeded the delivery of food aid shipments. Ninety percent of the World Food Programme’s shipments arrive by sea, and ships have required a military escort. According to the Kenyan foreign minister, Somali pirates have received over US$150 million during the 12 months prior to November 2008.
Where things get interesting is in the analysis of cause and effect. According to an article over on the New York Times Somali officials said piracy started about 10 to 15 years ago as a response to illegal fishing. The country’s tuna-rich waters were plundered by commercial fishing fleets soon after its government collapsed in 1991. Somali fishermen turned into armed vigilantes, confronting fishing boats and demanding they pay a tax. In 2008, more than 120 pirate attacks occurred in the Gulf of Aden, far more than in any other year in recent memory. Experts said the Somali pirates netted more than $100 million, an astronomical sum for a war-racked country whose economy is in tatters.
UPDATE: 12 April 2009
Rachel Maddow provides a roundup on the Meet the Press.
UPDATE: 13 April 2009
John J. Kruzel of the American Forces Press Service reports Hostage Captain Was in ‘Imminent Danger’ at Time of Rescue