Why the dangerous new turn for piracy matters

 

 

Off the western coast of Africa, just north of the equator, the Gulf of Guinea has endured piracy for decades. But recent spikes in new, more dangerous forms of piracy imply a troubling sense of invincibility in the minds of the perpetrators. Pirates have become more sophisticated, more brash. They think they can operate with impunity.

Consider recent reports of two large tankers going missing in the gulf. These hijacked vessels reportedly maneuvered freely, while pirates transferred their stolen cargo, confident they could filter it back into the market.

Such acts of piracy destabilize regions and contribute to an insecure environment. They also have very real international implications, producing ripples that spread throughout the global economy. For example, Nigeria, the region’s lynchpin, is the world’s fourth-leading exporter of liquefied natural gas. Forty-three percent of its exports go to Europe, accounting for one-fifth of the continent’s non-EU gas imports.

Meanwhile, Russia is using its gas supply to exert diplomatic and economic pressure in their current conflict with Ukraine.

This underscores the importance of diverse, secure energy sources for global stability, as well as the stake that the EU and NATO have in the security of the Gulf of Guinea.

Nigeria’s energy-based economy also creates a single point of failure that could have regional and global repercussions. Given piracy’s effect on corporate profits, it’s not difficult to imagine oil companies withdrawing from the gulf, devastating Nigeria’s economy and destabilizing the entire region.

There’s clearly plenty on the line. But what’s causing piracy in the first place?

While these heists take place at sea, their origins rest ashore. Marginally functional governments with limited security capability or capacity are to blame, as are the transnational organized criminal networks – including white-collar business and government leaders – that exploit the region’s instability.

More from GPS: How to fight piracy

Poor governance in Nigeria, for instance, has produced insurgent-like activities, which have in turn produced piracy. (Nigeria is currently fighting a violent insurgency in the North, having brokered a fragile peace in the Niger Delta, the region’s greatest source of buccaneering.) Meanwhile, the transnational organized criminal networks seize on this chain of instability for political and economic gain.

With so many factors at play in the Gulf of Guinea, how can piracy be stopped?

The key is eliminating the unstable environment that transnational organized criminal networks prey on. This will require sustained political will to improve governance, increase transparency, reduce corruption, and create economic opportunity. (This approach marks an important difference from anti-piracy efforts around the Horn of Africa, where the lack of a functional government in Somalia has allowed the United Nations to give other nations carte blanche to patrol Somali waters. This would be untenable in the Gulf of Guinea region, where piracy crosses the borders of numerous nations whose comparatively functional governments would resist such foreign intervention.)

This effort must be shaped and led by Africa. However, since Europe and the United States have skin in the game, too, there are many ways they can lend a hand over the long term. For a start, the United States should use its diplomatic and economic leverage to create and sustain political will in the region and require transparency and accountability to gain popular trust and erode corruption. It also should provide significant, targeted economic and infrastructure development (e.g., increase refinery capacity, develop commercial fisheries), help modernize the region’s domestic laws and judicial system to address piracy, and target white-collar government and business officials who support transnational organized criminal networks.

To address piracy in the short term, the international community must aid Gulf of Guinea states through improved maritime awareness, presence, and interdiction capabilities, supported with better intelligence. The international community, meanwhile, should support successful implementation of the Gulf of Guinea Code of Conduct, reexamine the role of armed security to harden targets and enhance intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, reinforce EU/NATO security presence while regional nations build their capacity, deploy dedicated maritime patrol aircraft for support, and better coordinate international support for African initiatives.

Sustained success in the gulf will demand much of the international community: substantial financial and physical support, political will, and patience. Progress will be measured in years, if not generations, but everyone will benefit because of it.

Piracy, as dangerous and destabilizing as it is, is merely a symptom. The real disease is the scourge of transnational organized criminal parasites feeding off the region’s instability. A true cure must stem from the political will of sovereign states and their commitment to improve governance and service.

By Anthony Russell, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Cdr Anthony Russell, USCG is the 2013-2014 Coast Guard Executive Fellow to the RAND Corporation. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S. government.

Original Source: CNN

Link: http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/29/why-the-dangerous-new-turn-for-piracy-matters/

 

Pirates raid oil tanker in Malacca Straits

Armed pirates have raided an oil tanker sailing in the Malacca Straits and abducted three crew members, officials in Malaysia say.

The pirates also pilfered a large amount of diesel from the tanker, which reports say was travelling from Singapore to Myanmar.

Three Indonesian crew members were seized, officials said.

The Malacca Straits, which run between Malaysia and Indonesia, are a key shipping route in the region.

The raid happened early on Tuesday, Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) piracy reporting centre based in Kuala Lumpur, was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

“IMB is aware of the attack on the Singapore-managed ship in the Malacca Straits,” he said, adding that IMB was concerned about the kidnapped crew.

Reports say that armed men boarded the ship and tied up crew members, including nationals from Thailand, India, Indonesia and Myanmar, also known as Burma.

A Malaysian marine police commander, Abdul Rahim Abdullah, told the Associated Press that after the pirates boarded, two other tankers appeared.

An estimated three million litres of diesel, out of five million litres on board, were transferred to them over several hours, he said.

Earlier reports identified the tanker as Japanese, but Mr Abdul Rahim said the ship had been sold to a company in Singapore.

The tanker, identified by Reuters news agency as the Naniwa Maru, is now berthed in Malaysia for investigation.

Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have worked to reduce piracy in the Malacca Straits through increased patrols.

Attacks on ships had averaged up to 20 cases a year over the last three years, a regional authority on piracy was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Original Source: BBC NEWS

Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-27114548

 

How a weak Somalia blocks anti-piracy war

By Daniel Kalinaki, Political Platform Reporter

Without a government in Somalia capable of patrolling the country’s coastline or netting its pirates, the response came from the European Union. The FS Siroco is part of the response; one of up to eight ships in a fleet that patrols the Gulf of Aden and the large expanse of the Indian Ocean off the East African coastline. (more…)

Commander: Iranian Navy to Dispatch Next Flotilla to High Seas Later This Month

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran plans to dispatch its next flotilla of warships to the high seas on April 18 or 19 to protect the country’s cargo ships and oil tankers against pirate attacks, Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said on Tuesday. (more…)

Maritime Piracy: A Chronic but Manageable Threat

Are fragile states and bad governance responsible for maritime piracy? On the contrary, argues Bridget Coggins. Pirates also benefit from stable governments that provide easy access to corrupt officials and a steady stream of high value targets.

By Bridget Coggins for ISN (more…)

Explaining the Economic Geography of Somali Piracy

Why have some parts of the Somali coastline become havens for maritime piracy while other areas want nothing to do with it? For Anja Shortland, the evidence is clear – a lack of infrastructure and economic development can make piracy more profitable than ‘legitimate’ forms of trade.

By Anja Shortland for ISN (more…)

Somali pirates sentenced by Spanish Supreme Court for hijacking Naval ship

SOMALI pirates who hijacked a Spanish Naval vessel after mistaking it for a private civilian boat are facing tougher sentences following a Supreme Court ruling. (more…)

Piracy could spread to Mozambique

By Peter Fabricius

Durban – A new breed of pirate could emerge in northern Mozambique to exploit the gas and oil industry that is about to boom there, unless the region addresses the problem.

Rear-Admiral Robert “Rusty” Higgs and Joao Paulo Coelho, a professor at the Aquino de Braganca Centre for Social Studies in Maputo, issued the warning at a maritime security seminar in Pretoria on Friday.

Coelho said that life in Mozambique’s quiet Cabo Delgado province, on the border with Tanzania, was increasingly being disrupted by refugee flows, mostly from Somalia, and human trafficking from eastern and central Africa.

The Somalis were either trying to reach South Africa or staying in Mozambique to become involved in clandestine mining and petty trade. Some were sent to refugee camps. Many were arriving by dhow, using ancient trade routes from the north.

Poverty and food insecurity were rising and so was “the ghost of Islamic fundamentalism”, Coelho said. This raised the question of whether piracy could evolve in the area.

The combination of the local population becoming marginalised and the culture of sailing in dhows could engender piracy, he said. – Independent Foreign Service

Via: http://www.iol.co.za

Original Article

Is Piracy Eradicated?

What are the root causes of maritime piracy and how should they be addressed? For James Kraska, the Janus-faced answer is simple – the absence of the rule of law and the failure of land-based governance provide the ideal conditions for organized crime at sea. (more…)

UKMTO Report, April 5th-April 11th

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.44.35UKMTO has issued its report for the period April 5th to April 11th and has logged three incidents of potential pirate activity.  (more…)