Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Piracy off of Somalia is a big security threat

Today, there were multiple media reports about “Pirates of the Indian Ocean”, mainly off the coast of Somalia, for as far as 400 miles. Today a Saudi super-tanker had to drop anchor near Somalia. Some of these tankers can be three times the size of an aircraft carrier, like the carrier I visited at Patriot Point (Charleston, SC) in 1993. The US Navy says it is unable to police the entire area, and NATO says it is limited in the actions it can take. Nevertheless, the British Navy recently arrested some pirates.

Piracy can earn each participant $10000-$50000 per incident, in a poor country. Money from piracy buys weapons and even missiles that can be used by terrorists, even though piracy is motivated by “bully” economics, rather than politics or religion.

A risk could develop that Al Qaeda or a group from Iran could infiltrate a pirate group and use it for missile strikes against developed countries in the Middle East, including Israel, or even Saudi Arabia or Dubai. This is especially dangerous if such groups had nuclear weapons or were capable of something like an EMP strike. That is another reason why piracy is so dangerous, especially to that part of the world.

Some oil companies are going around the Horn of Africa to avoid the region, at increased cost.

Somalia, of course, was the site of President Clinton's debacle in 1993, that led to the movie "Black Hawk Down."

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