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Oct-31-2010 21:22printcomments

Somalia Pirate Realities

Ecoterra has written many times about the tragedy western anti-piracy military operations represent. Their massive ships are ill-equipped to counter the small fast pirate vessels.

Somali pirates

(SALEM, Ore.) - The group Ecoterra Int. that monitors pirate activity out of Nairobi, said that as of Friday night, at least 29, possibly 30 foreign vessels plus one barge, are in the hands of Somali pirates, being held against the will of their owners.

Along with the various ships, at least 519 hostages or captives - including an elderly British yachting couple and 5 new hostages from Somaliland are being held against thelr will by pirates, awaiting their eventual release.

Unlike pirates off the coasts of Malaysia and Thailand, Somali pirates are not 'bloodthirsty'; they don't murder their captives, and they have a fairly justifiable reason for having begun this lifestyle in the first place.

The coast of Somalia has supplied fish for local people for a long, long time. But this one time pristine coast became a dumping ground for waste, particularly in the 1990's, thanks to mostly eastern European and Asian countries.

The same nations also increasingly began harvesting Somalia's sea life with unscrupulous methods. This is what started Somalia's piracy.

Ecoterra has written many times about the tragedy western anti-piracy military operations represent. Their massive ships are ill-equipped to counter the small fast pirate vessels.

When the U.S. Navy became involved in one operation, they opened fire on the pirates after the hostage was recovered. This may be fine with the John Wayne set, but some people don't think too much of gunning down teenage pirates who are no longer a threat.

"The world and the navies don't get it: Do they not realize that only after the navies appeared and interfered at the Horn of Africa the real piracy developed and surged? Now the situation has reached a new all-time high: Over 500 people held captive."

The pirate base at Eyl, Somalia is well known. In fact a reporter visited the place recently and taped an interview with some of the Somali pirates.

It truly is another seriously misunderstood situation that western countries believe the only answer is brutal military force.

Here is the latest roundup of information regarding the seized pirate held vessels:


Armed pirates boarded on 30. October 2010 at 05h12 UTC (08h15) a bulk carrier underway in position 15:06N-055:58E, which is around 170nm SE off Salalah, Oman,  and inside the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC). All crew retreated into a strongroom, the so-called citadel from where they have control of ship. While the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre reports that the pirates would still be on board, reports from Somalia state that the bunker barge Al-Nisr al Saudi with its original crew of 14, including the master, was used in the assault and that, while the pirates boarded the attacked vessel, a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) was fired to gain entry to the strongroom. That RPG reportedly bounced back and injured three of the attackers.
Thereafter the gang left this vessel and only a short while later are reported to have captured today a Nigerian merchant ship, which they now apparently commandeer. The whole situation is still very unclear and further reports are awaited.

Somali pirates capture Liberian-owned cargo ship with 24 crew
Armed pirates in two skiffs boarded and sea-jacked the product tanker MT POLAR with 24 crew members aboard in the very early morning hours at 01h40 UTC (04h30 local time on 30. October 2010 in position 12:12N – 064:53E, which is according to the Piracy Reporting Centre 633nm east of Socotra island, off Somalia or 684 miles (1,100 kilometres) east of the Indian Ocean island of Socotra according to EU NAVFOR.
According to a EU NAVFOR statement the owners of the Panamanian-flagged 72,825 ton vessel MV POLAR confirmed early Saturday that pirates are in command of the ship.
While it is undisputed that the ship has 24 crew members, EU NAVFOR reported one Romanian, three Greek nationals, four nationals from Montenegro and 16 Filipinos, but according to the ICSW (International Committee on Seafarer's Welfare) there are three Greek nationals, 16 Pinoy seafarers, three from Montenegro and one Romanian as well as one Serb.
AFP concluded that though naval powers have deployed dozens of warships to patrol the region's waters they have failed to stem piracy, one of the few thriving businesses for coastal communities in a country devastated by war and poverty.
According to reports from Somalia the already sea-jacked gigantic oil-tanker VLCC SHAMO DREAM was used to capture this vessel.

Dhow Captured for Pirate Use
A motorized Dhow was seized on October 28, 2010 at 11h56 UTC (14h56 local time) in position 12:08N – 054:25E off Socotra Island, Somalia, according to the IMB Piracy reporting centre. Once a British protectorate, along with the remainder of the Mahra State of Qishn and Socotra and being a strategic important point, the four islands making the Archipelago of Socotra  were accorded by the UN in 1967 to Yemen, though they are very close to the mainland of the tip of north-eastern Somalia. Several of the female lineages of the inhabitants on the island, notably those in mtDNA haplogroup N, are reportedly found nowhere else on earth.
The Dhow with presently unknown flag and about 10 crew is heading now towards the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor of the Gulf of Aden (IRTC) and is likely to be used as pirate-base and decoy to capture a larger vessel. Further reports are awaited.

"MSV SEA QUEEN SAILS FREE", says Owner - but he is the only one who says so
Several sources had reported the Indian-owned but UAE flagged motorized merchant Dhow MSV SEA QUEEN as having been captured outside Kismaayo in Southern Somalia.
But Mr. Jagdip Ayachi, who operates as the vessel's handler out of the United Arab Emirates and sometimes also poses as the owner of the Indian registered Dhow MSV Sea Queen, maintains that the vessel is UAE flagged and is not under duress in the moment.
Also a naval source reported that the charcoal-laden ship had been attacked by two skiffs at 10h11 local time (13h11 UTC) on 23. October 2010 and stated that the Indian flagged Dhow SEA QUEEN (MSI Number: 419956127) was loaded with charcoal in position 00.23.13S/42.35.58E, outside Kismaayo, when it was pirated by 2 skiffs. Thereafter the latest position of MSV SEA QUEEN was at 16:19:36 (UTC) on 23OCT10 at position 00.24.48S/42.38.29E.
The fact that she then was heading from 00.23 to 00.24 South (both positions already south of Kismaayo and with course towards the Kenyan border) could be an indication that they are involved in some other business all-together and that it might not be a sea-jack but a taxi-ride or some other purpose behind it, like weapons- or precious-stones-smuggling, transport of Al-Shabaab fighters to these islands there or similar clandestine and illegal activities.
Since that vessel and crew were taken already in April in a flurry together with other blockade breaking Dhows. which probably also resembled a quarrel or fall-out among certain players, it could very well be something like that this time too. But for the moment we presume that this specific blockade-breaker is doing illegal business together with Somali criminals.
This vessel clearly not only violates the legal regulations of the transitional federal government (TFG) of Somalia, which clearly stipulate that Kismaayo is not a port of entry for foreign flagged vessels and obviously is a crime-ship since it exports illegally charcoal from Somalia, but since it is also fact that the vessel has a registration issued by the Indian Government it violates blatantly and persistently the ban imposed at the beginning of the year on all Indian registered merchant dhows which clearly rules that it is not permitted for any of these vessels to ply the waters south and west of a line joining Salalah (Oman) and Malé (Maldives).
If the Indian government as well as the authorities now still will do nothing to once and for all stop the criminal activities of this vessel MSV SEA QUEEN, it will become obvious that they protect these blockade breakers, smugglers and thieves and thereby aide the dealings of organizations like the Al-Shabaab, which is officially listed as a terrorist group, because without their colluding consent the vessel never could have even entered Kismaayo in the first place.
Kenyan security organs have now been informed about this vessel and the government of the United Arab Emirates was urged again to finally forbid the import of illegal charcoal exports from Somalia, which at least would show that the UAE recognizes the laws of Somalia and assists Somalia in their enforcement.

Renewed Capture of Taiwanese Fishing Vessels in the Somali Basin? (ecop-marine)
Persistent local reports from the Seychelles, which are however not yet officially confirmed, speak of the capture of two Taiwanese fishing vessels, who are said to operate in connection with the Seychelles as point of transshipment for mainly tuna caught in the Indian Ocean. It seems that the owners as well as the authorities of Taiwan increasingly keep such cases out of the information stream in order to avoid that their illegal fishing activities in the Indian Ocean are disclosed and cover up in total negligence of the seafarers plight.

Seafarers' Activist  in Kenya acted honourably - court ruled (ecop-marine)
The case in which the human rights activist and chairman of the Prepared Society, Mr. Hassan Greeve, was charged with taking part in and leading an allegedly unlawful assembly was thrown out by the court in Kenya immediately after the investigating officer ended giving his evidence.
Mr. Greeve was arrested in March this year by police in Kenya's coastal town of Mombasa as he joined members of the families of the crew suffering on fishing vessel FV SAKOBA, which was captured and held in Somalia, while the demonstration proceeded to the Kenya Maritime Authority in order to present their grievances.
A protest note detailing the plight of the families of the seafarers, who had been left without any support by the Spanish owner of the fishing vessel, except a one-off payment of US$50 during the 6 month lasting ordeal and a memorandum urging the Kenyan and Spanish authorities to step in to secure the speedy release of the crew from Somalia were supposed to be handed to the Kenyan authorities in charge of seafarers working on vessels, which fly as flag of convenience the Kenyan flag.
Mombasa Resident Magistrate, Mr. Michieka, while acquitting the accused of all charges, agreed  that Article 35 of the new Kenya Constitution made the case totally irrelevant. The magistrate considered all the evidence before him and was satisfied that the police had been properly notified of the protest-march, but had unconstitutionally preferred to act the way they did by arresting the activist unlawfully and throwing him into the cells, from where his temporary release could only be realized by paying a significant bail.
Clandestine fishing operations out of Mombasa also into the waters of neighbouring Somalia have since many years enjoyed the protective hands of politically very well connected people, who in the past regularly instruct or bribe police to act against environmental groups or human rights defenders. The new constitution the Kenyans had to wait for over 20 years is about to bring a significant change.
Two Somalis, who had been snatched by Spanish naval forces from the Somali coast in the vicinity of sea-jacked FV ALAKRANA, one of the large Spanish tuna haulers using the disastrous purse seine method, are still languishing in Spanish jails.

The Colonial Masters and Takers Don't Give Up
Fact is simply that the United Nations Common Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS), which was ratified by Somalia as well as Kenya since long, very clearly determines the angle the maritime boundary takes from the coast. And the Somali parliament of the TFG therefore rightly decided that there is nothing to be discussed - also including the 350nm extension concerning the seabed, which is just a straight prolongation of the existing lines drawn by the 200nm Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as well as the 200nm Territorial Waters of Somalia.
But some do want to continue to stir up things.
Fact is also that the British government seems to have money for such consultancies and "workshops" - and we all know what it costs to have Kenyan ministers of that calibre to attend - while not a single penny is given by the UK to help the coastal communities in neither Somalia nor Kenya, who are the key to
also end the surge of piracy. But as long as the British earn good money with piracy and insurances, which is why they also did shoot down the UN-sponsored anti-ransom move, nothing will change.
Commonwealth experts help Kenya for maritime boundary negotiations with Somalia
27 October 2010 http://www.thecommonwealth.org/news/34580/231326/271010kenyasomaliamaritimeboundaries.htm
Clear boundaries will have important implic
ya prepations for maritime security, shipping, environmental protection, fishing and offshore resource exploration.
The Commonwealth Secretariat is assisting the Government of the Republic of Kenya to prepare for maritime boundary negotiations with Somalia.

Establishing clear maritime boundaries with Somalia will have important implications for maritime security, shipping, environmental protection, fishing and offshore resource exploration in the region.
The assistance follows the successful lodgement of Kenya’s extended continental shelf submission in 2009, and focuses on building knowledge and expertise concerning the delimitation of maritime boundaries. As part of the project, a workshop for government officials was delivered by the Commonwealth Secretariat’s maritime boundary specialists.

What are maritime boundaries?
Maritime boundaries are established between States by agreement. This is important to settle overlapping maritime claims and to define the areas of ocean space over which States can exercise their sovereign rights. The workshop was opened by the Minister of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security, Professor George Saitoti MP, and hosted by the Kenyan Solicitor-General, Wanjuki Muchemi. The workshop was also attended by several departmental heads as well as other senior officials, academics and business figures, and drew substantial media attention.
Paul Hibberd, who leads the Kenya project, praised the commitment of the government in supporting the workshop. “Reaching agreement on the boundary with Somalia will be critical to securing Kenya’s territorial integrity. It also opens up opportunities for the future sustainable development of the country,” said Mr Hibberd.
“The support of all government agencies in preparing for and conducting negotiations will be essential to maximising the strength of Kenya’s negotiating position.”
The Secretariat’s participation at this workshop drew praise from the Kenyan Government, including at the recently concluded Senior Law Officials Meeting held at Marlborough House, in London, where the Secretariat outlined the recent achievements of the maritime boundaries programme.

N.B.: Similar stories like the one on the Somalia-Kenya MOU, surround the secret Somalia-Djibouti MOU and the Somalia-Yemen MOU (see below).

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Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 65 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

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