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Feb-17-2011 16:24printcomments

Update on Pirate Seized Vessels and Crews

Includes information from Somalia, Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

Pirates on the beach in Somalia
Pirates on the beach in Somalia. Courtesy: english.alshahid.net

(NAIROBI, Kenya ECOTERRA) - Today, 17 February 2011, 21h00 UTC, at least 49 foreign vessels plus two barges are kept in Somali hands against the will of their owners, while at least 815 hostages or captives - including a South-African yachting couple - suffer to be released.

But even EU NAVFOR, who mostly only counts high-value, often British insured vessels, admitted now that dozens of vessels were sea-jacked despite their multi-million Euro efforts to protect shipping.

Having come under pressure, EU NAVFOR's operation ATALANTA felt now compelled to publish their updated piracy facts for those vessels, which EU NAVFOR admits had not been protected from pirates and were taken.

EU NAVFOR also admitted for the first time that actually a larger number of vessels and crews is held hostage than those listed on their file. Since EU NAVFOR's inception at the end of 2008 the piracy has started in earnest and it has now completely escalated. Only knowledgeable analysts recognized the link.

Request the Somali Marine & Coastal Monitor from ECOTERRA Intl. for background info and see the situation map of the PIRACY COASTS OF SOMALIA (2011).

WHAT THE NAVIES OFF SOMALIA NEVER SEE:
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/05/fighting_for_control_of_somali.html

What Foreign Soldiers in Somalia and even their Officers Never Seem to Realize:
The Scramble For Somalia

PEACE KEEPERS OR BIOLOGICAL WARFARE AGENTS ?


LATEST:

OVER 800 SEAFARERS HELD HOSTAGE IN SOMALIA !

While billions are spend for the navies, the general militarization and mercenaries, still no help is coming forward to pacify and develop the coastal areas of Somalia. Updates on known cases see below in the status section
.

GHOSTSHIP ON THE INDIAN OCEAN ?  (ecop-marine)
MV ESPERANZA was spotted last on 10. February 2010 in position Latitude: 03 22.7S and Longitude 050 29.1 E, which is around 450Nm straight 90 degrees off Mogadishu, Somalia, 630Nm off straight East of Malindi Kenya and approximately 300Nm off the Archipelago of the Seychelles.
At the time of the sighting merchant vessel ESPERANZA apparently with NO CREW on board and neither pirates around seemed to have been abandoned.
A warning from the Seychelles was sounded to shipping in the area concerning the then drifting vessel and it was even assumed that the ship could be sinking.
Apparently the warning was not published widely by the navies.
The fate of the ship is at present not publicly known and further reports are awaited.


MISSING SRI LANKAN FISHING VESSEL RESCUED BY BY INDONESIAN NAVY (ecop-marine)
A group of Sri Lankan fishermen who went missing for more than two months were rescued by the Indonesian Navy - transpired only now. They had set sail for a fishing trip on FV SANKARA PUTHA (aka FV SANKARA SUN) from the southern port of Mirissa already in November, but were then reported missing to the Fisheries Ministry.
At the time a case of piracy was not ruled out, but as it turned out they just lost of communication and had engine trouble.
The Indonesian Navy, upon request by Sri Lankan authorities, started a search mission with the help of the Air Force and rescued the men.
Sri Lamkan FV SAGAR 04 (aka OCEAN 04) is still in the hands of pirates.

Finally some navies act on the pirated dhows and improve the way to do it (ecop-marine)
Combined Maritime Forces warship HMS Cornwall frees hostages from pirates.

A request for assistance from a South Korean Merchant Vessel in the Indian Ocean on Feb. 10 led to Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) warship HMS Cornwall securing and later releasing the Yemeni crew of a pirated dhow from their 17 Somali captors and returning the fishing vessel to its rightful owners, CMF reported on 15. February 2011. Items found with the dhow confirmed that it was acting as a ‘mother ship’ for Somali pirates who had captured it on Nov. 11, 2010.
The dhow, which was listed i.a. also by NATO as abducted or suspicious, is named FV JAISH (aka FV JEISH)
. 
HMS Cornwall is currently the Command Platform for Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, the counter-piracy mission of CMF. On Feb. 10 Cornwall’s Officer of the Watch observed a dhow acting suspiciously and received a distress call from the South Korean Merchant Vessel Yong Jin reporting a potential pirate threat. HMS Cornwall’s arrival on scene disrupted the attack, and the warship’s boarding teams, supported overhead by her Lynx helicopter, searched and secured the Yemeni-flagged dhow. An initial search found 22 people on board, three skiffs, powerful outboard motors and various items of equipment associated with pirates boarding merchant vessels, such as ladders, enabling the dhow to act as ‘mother ship’ for a group of pirates operating in the area.
Five of the people on the dhow were the original Yemeni crew who had been held hostage for 92 days.
HMS Cornwall’s commanding officer, Commander David Wilkinson, said
“Our presence in the area has had a hugely significant effect on the lives of five Yemeni fishermen, who have been freed from over three months of pirate captivity and can now return to their families. In addition we have restored a merchant vessel to legitimate use on the high seas and my highly trained team have conducted a very slick boarding operation which has ensured that this pirate vessel is no longer able to operate. This demonstrates the reassurance and security offered by the presence in these waters of HMS Cornwall and other warships from Combined Maritime Forces.“
Unfortunately no further investigation was conducted by a court of law, which e.g. would also have to raise the questions to what extend the dhow operation was a Yemeni-Somali joint venture, or if the vessel had been fishing illegally off the coast of Somalia.
The 15 Somalis were returned to land by the navy and released there.



UPDATE: CHIEF INGENEER KILLED AFTER RETURN TO KENYA!
ILLEGAL SOUTH KOREAN FISHING VESSEL SEIZED IN SOMALIA BACK IN KENYA
(ecop-marine)
FV GOLDEN WAVE WAS ILLEGAL ALL THE WAY ALONG
A South Korean fishing vessel seized in October last year in Somali waters has arrived in the Kenyan port of Mombasa after its release last week from Somalia.
Family and friends of the 39 Kenyan, two South Korean and two Chinese sailors aboard welcomed them. Emotional scenes could be observed as the sailors met their families and somer officials gathered for their arrival, among them the East African chapter chairman of the Seafarers Assistance Programme (SAP), Mr. Andrew Mwangura.
The FV Golden Wave - also known as Keummi 305 (or Geummi 305) - was escorted into the port by a Finnish warship and a small Kenyan navy boat. South Korea's foreign ministry earlier said the South Korean navy had requested that a vessel from the EU Naval Force accompany the Keummi 305 to secure the safety of the sailors.
The 241-ton, sometimes Kenya-flagged fishing vessel, which had not been authorized by the South Korean Government to fish outside Korean waters, was attacked on October 9 in Somali waters off Ras Kiamboni north of Kenya's Lamu Island while fishing.
Seafarers on the vessel as well as local sources all stated that the vessel actually had been fishing off Ras Kiamboni in Somali waters without licence. Crew members actually will consult with lawyers in order to sue the captain, who took them against their will into these dangerous waters on an illegal fishing trip.
Kenyan Joseph Amere, who had acted as the crew's chief negotiator with pirate bosses, told Reuters they had been illegally trawling for crabs off the shores of Somalia before the vessel was seized and later were forced to launch 17 raids on ships plying the busy waterways between east Africa and the Seychelles archipelago, because the shipowner was not ready to pay the hefty compensation for the illegal fishing.

"The day we were hijacked on October 9, we had escaped the pirates three times but the Korean Captain, Mr Kim De Geon, defied our request to change the course. After the pirates sprayed our vessel with bullets, the captain surrendered and we were taken to Haradheere where the pirates' commander lives," said Mr Mihadi Daniel
adding that the pirates were armed with AK-47 rifles and rocket launchers.
The vessel was captured by the Ras Kiamboni coastal militia and due to lack of a suitable court subsequently transferred to Harardheere at the Central Somali coast and handed on to Somali brokers, who wanted to get the fine from the owner. Since that did not materialize, the vessel and crew were then handed to a group, which more known for acts of piracy than anything else.
This group thereafter misused the fishing vessel as piracy launch to capture merchant vessels and all together held onto the vessel for over four month.
Several crew members confirmed this already also to news reporters and stated that their trawler was used by the pirates as a mother ship to attack other vessels and they gave brief statements on the true story of their ordeal.
"At one time we hijacked a Singapore registered ship 30 miles off the Kenya shore but the Kenyan security failed to rescue us," said Mr Amere.
Their Somali captors allegedly seized five vessels in Kenyan waters, the sailors believe according to the Daily Nation, during the four months,of the terrifying ordeal, and at no time were Kenyan security forces anywhere in the vicinity. The editor of that newspaper therefore felt obliged to blow into the horn of the navies, stating that "The conclusion then is that our security agencies do not have the capacity to protect Kenyan territorial waters." The sailors and fishermen also reported from their hostage takers that many of the pirates say they began as fishermen but have lost their livelihoods because of foreign trawlers.
At first no information about a ransom was reported, while pirates usually only release ships after being paid.
The Korean agent, who had been outside the country on a family trip, now claimed to a Kenyan newspaper that the ship and crew were released on February 8 after payment of a reported KSh50 million (= 635,000 US$) ransom, which was immediately rubbished by the seamen as well as sources in Somalia. The East African Seafarers Assistance Programme said that there was maybe only at one point of time a payment of 50,000 US$ (= KSh 4 mio) for upkeep of the crew, but that otherwise the crew was released for having served in piracy actions and because there was no hope that the owner or agent would come up with any serious money.
The Kenyan sailors also revealed heart-rending stories of their ill-treatment, deprivation, and sheer horror of life in captivity as well as their fear for their families, which had not been supported by the shipowner during all that time of their absence.
The vessel was known since years to conduct fish-poaching operations and when it finally got entangled in Somali not just few, including the Malindi fishermen were actually relieved that the boat wouldn't disturb their fishing grounds for a while.
In any case the South Korean Government, who had already listed the vessel as an illegal operator, will conduct a full investigation and it is hoped by the Kenyan beach units of the fishing co-operatives as well as conservation organizations that the Kenya authorities follow swiftly for misusing the Kenyan flag in fish piracy in the first place.

ECOTERRA Intl. had urged the South Korean government as well as the authorities of the Republic of Kenya to fully investigate the case of "GOLDEN WAVE 305" and hold the owner, captain, manager and agent responsible for endangering the lives of 39 Kenyan seamen, aiding Somali pirates in piracy operations and illegal fishing in the first place.
Chief Engineer of Geummi 305 Killed in Kenya - Was it an Accident, Murder or Suicide?
The chief engineer of the Korean fishing boat Geummi 305. released from Somali pirates last week died early Thursday in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa.
Seoul's foreign ministry confirmed the death of the 68-year old
seaman, identified as Kim Yong-Hyun, chief engineer of the 241-ton Keummi 305. "The exact cause of his death is not known and an investigation by Kenyan police is under way" at the request of South Korean diplomats, a statement said, adding that no suicide note was found.
Kim died due to a fall off the balcony of his hotel room and was found by a security guard after midnight at around 02h25 Mombasa time. Eyewitnesses said Mr. Kim had not been alone on the 3rd floor balcony.
Officials in Seoul said there had not been any unusual signs from Kim, but noted that he had been considering to quit working with the controversial company and to return to Korea.
Kim's family has been informed and his body was transferred to a local hospital.
The captain and owner of the vessel, also named Kim, meanwhile, has reportedly expressed wishes to continue working in the region, though he stands accused of persistent illegal fishing activities with a unseaworthy vessel, which was clandestinely transfered out of Korean waters, and mistreating the crew.

Chief engineer Kim was a key witness to the investigation concerning the illegal operations of this vessel.



From the SMCM (Somali Marine and Coastal Monitor): (and with a view on news with an impact on Somalia)
The articles below - except where stated otherwise - are reproduced in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and are for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.


Govt not helping us: hijacked Indian in Somalia By Shoaib Ahmed (CNN-IBN)
Mumbai: The six Indian sailors of the ship MV Iceberg-1 who were hijacked by Somali pirates nearly a year ago seem to have been forgotten by their employers and the Indian government. MV Iceberg-I was hijacked on March 29, 2010 by Somali pirates. The hijacked sailor told CNN-IBN that one crew member is dead and his body has been kept in the freezer. He also said that Indians are threatened with death and that there is little food and water.Shoaib Ahmed: Dhiraj where are you?
Dhiraj Tiwari: In Somalia, anchored in Puntland. Conditions are bad right now. One crew member is dead, his body is in a freezer. Another member is seriously ill, don't know what's going to happen.
Shoaib Ahmed: Where are you right now? What are your living conditions? What's around you?
Dhiraj Tiwari: They don't give us anything. Sometimes they give us food once a day, sometimes just half a bottle of water. Conditions are bad.
Shoaib Ahmed: What do you want the Government to do?
Dhiraj Tiwari: Government will just say that we are doing something. It's been 12 months here sir, don't understand what the Government is doing.
Shoaib Ahmed: What are their demands?
Dhiraj Tiwari: Money. They want someone they can negotiate with. If someone buys the ship or the cargo they might release us.
Shoaib Ahmed: Your ship's owner hasn't responded to their demands?
Dhiraj Tiwari: He does, but the owner says that 'whether you kill the crew or you sink the ship I don't care. I have this much money, if you like take it, if you dont like I don't care."
Shoaib Ahmed: What do they say about the Somali pirates that India captured recently? Do they take out that anger on you?
Dhiraj Tiwari: Yes, those pirates are from their group only. They say that don't speak to anyone else. They say no one should talk to Indians. They threaten to kill the Indians.
Mansingh Mohite, father of the hijacked seaman of MV Iceberg, Ganesh Mohite, says that he wrote to the Chief Minister, the Shipping Directorate General, the Prime Minister and even the President, but did not get any response.
Click to play video

Somali rebels detain several pirate gang leaders (Reuters)
Somali militants have detained a number of pirate bosses in the coastal town of Haradhere after negotiations over the rebels' cut of a ransom payout collapsed, pirates and local residents said on Thursday.
Pirate sources said they had come to close to sealing a multi-million dollar ransom deal for the release of two vessels earlier this week before their refusal to give al Shabaab insurgents a 20 percent cut scuppered the talks.
"Al Shabaab arrested four of our ringleaders today after we rejected their demands for 20 percent of the ransom payment," a pirate who identified himself as Ali told Reuters by telephone from Haradhere.
"There had been negotiations between us and al Shabaab since last night but we were unable to reach a compromise on this."
Pirate gangs are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms, and international navies have struggled to contain piracy in the vast Indian Ocean.
Ali said pirate negotiators had been on the verge of securing a deal for the release of the Singapore-flagged MV York, an LPG tanker seized in October, and the bulk carrier Rak Afrikana hijacked last April.
It was not immediately possible to verify that the negotiations concerned those two vessels but both are known to be under pirate control.
Ahmed Wardherre, a local resident, confirmed the militants had snatched the pirate chiefs. "Most of the pirates started fleeing from the town late last night," he said.
Shipping industry associations have warned that over 40 percent of the world's seaborne oil supply passing through the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea is at risk from Somali pirates, who are able to operate ever further out to sea and for longer periods, using hijacked vessels as mother ships.
Al Shabaab label Somalia's government a puppet of the West and have fought a four-year insurgency that has killed at least 21,000 people.

Georgian sailors to be freed by the end of February? By Mzia Kupunia
15 Georgian sailors, kidnapped by Somali pirates more than 5 months ago, will be freed by the end of February, Voice of America Georgian service reported, citing the father of one of the kidnapped sailors as a source. According to VOA, confidential negotiations between the Georgian government and the Greek owners of the ship have been finalised. Voice of America reported that the company that owns the ship is ready to pay USD 150,000, while the Georgian side has agreed to pay USD 750,000 to free the hostages. [N.B.: The negotiations are about MV OLIB G]
The ship sailing under the Maltese flag with 18 sailors on board – 15 Georgians and 3 Turkish, was kidnapped by Somali pirates on September 8, 2010 in the Straits of Aden. According to the Georgian President’s administration, the pirates demanded a ransom of USD 15 million in return for freeing the sailors and in October, the President’s press speaker, Manana Manjgaladze said, “There are no plans to conduct a special operation to free the kidnapped sailors until all possibilities of dialogue have expired.” Later, the pirates reduced their demanded ransom to USD 1 million, according to media reports.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry has denied having any additional information about the kidnapped Georgian sailors. Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze said on Monday that the Georgian side is not able to get involved in official negotiations, as there is no representation of Georgia in Somali. “We only have information that the sailors’ family members are trying to connect with them,” she noted. “We are completing our duties as much as we can, however our capacities are limited in this case,” the Deputy Minister added. On January 10 the Georgian Foreign Ministry said Tbilisi “has neither the possibility, nor the desire to be involved in any negotiations with the terrorists.” “We are talking with the owners of the ship and their lawyers,” Kalandadze told journalists.
Earlier in January the families of the kidnapped Georgian sailors said the pirates were treating the hostages “badly.” Members of the sailors’ families informed journalists that the situation aboard the ship was becoming “critical” as the sailors were not given food or water and were “severely” beaten every evening. However, speaking to Newsgeorgia news agency, Sergo Devadze, father of one of the kidnapped sailors, said on Monday that the situation has improved. “Several days ago we had telephone contact with the hostages and they informed us that the pirates’ attitude towards them has slightly improved,” Devadze noted.
There are also currently two other Georgian sailors being held hostage by Somali pirates. Oleg Nodia was kidnapped on November 11, 2010 together with 30 other sailors from Tunisia, the Philippines, Russia, Croatia and Morocco when the Somali pirates seized the Tunisian ship Hannibal 2. Another Georgian sailor was kidnapped in the Arabian Sea last week when Somali pirates kidnapped a Greek-flagged tanker, which according to foreign media outlets, apart from the Georgian, the crew of the tanker consisted of 17 Filipino and 7 Greek sailors.

Somali pirate quits plundering day job By Abdurrahman Warsameh (RNW-Africa Desk)
Ever met a pirate with remorse? Muhammed Muqtar, 27, consulted with his conscience and decided to quit his pirate life. “Now I know there is a decent way to earn a living and help stop the plundering of our national marine resources.”
Pirates are still wreaking havoc on international shipping in one of the world’s most important waterways along Somalia’s coast, despite the presence of naval forces in the Gulf of Aden. Muqtar says it was his nagging conscience that forced him to give up his plundering day job after two years.
Foot soldier
The former pirate says that although he was a junior ‘foot soldier’ in a gang that operated in the central Somalia’s pirate hub of Harardhere, he saw firsthand how the illicit activity was organised.
Pirate gangs who operate in the coastal provinces are well organised ad hoc groups who join forces for a specific one-off assault. After the job is done, they share the revenues, break up and join other gangs.
Funding ‘the mission’, as Muqtar calls it, is the most important part of the operation. Financiers, who are often moneyed former pirates, bankroll the organization. They arm, equip and supply the teams and are rewarded with the largest share.
Plundering concerns
But Muqtar started getting second thoughts and left the pirate gang last year to start his own small business in Mogadishu. “The men did more harm than good by taking innocent ships and demanding money from them rather than attacking the illegal fishing trawlers that are plundering our resources,” Muqtar told Radio Netherland Worldwide.
He says he was given a ransom share of over $200,000 following the release of a Saudi super oil tanker, which was dubbed at the time as the biggest jackpot ever seized by Somali pirates. Muqtar says he was ‘advised’ to give out the illegal money to the poor following his decision to quit and start from scratch with clean money loaned from friends.
Excuses
“It is un-Islamic to take other people’s money without their consent. We justified our actions by claiming that the ships we attacked were dumping toxic waste and chasing us away from fishing in our seas. In reality, we never targeted the real perpetrators. Instead, we mostly assailed innocent commercial ships and cargo vessels bringing aid to the displaced,” Muqtar confesses.
Root causes ignored
Muqtar says the international naval forces deployed along the Somali coast are not doing enough to deal with the root causes of piracy, but only treat the symptoms.
“What worries me most is that other countries who say they want to stop piracy in the Gulf of Aden do not say or do anything about the damage done to our seas, natural resources and the effects on fishing communities along the coasts,” the former Somali pirate concluded.

International Maritime Organisation warns that ships are disregarding piracy threat by Guy (DefenceWeb)
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) warns that an “unacceptably high proportion of ships transiting the Gulf of Aden and western Indian Ocean” are not taking the threat of piracy seriously by heeding warnings or taking measures to protect their ships.
In a circular letter to IMO members, the United Nations, intergovernmental, non-governmental and other organizations, the IMO said that naval forces off the coast of Somalia have observed many ships in area that are not registered with the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa; are not reporting to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) Dubai; show no piracy deterrents and are not acting on warnings of pirate activity. At least 25% of commercial ships passing through the Gulf of Aden ignore safety precautions, AllBusiness reported in January.
The IMO noted that as of February 14, 685 crew on board 30 ships are being held for ransom along the Somali coast, which reflects a worsening situation as pirates are expanding their reach into the Indian Ocean, especially through the increasing use of mother ships. The organisation also says that pirate attacks are becoming more violent and that pirates are using captured crew as human shields.
Failure to implement fully the IMO guidance, including the industry-developed best management practices, significantly increases the risk of successful pirate attacks, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said. Some of the best management guidelines include maintaining a high cruising speed (travelling at 18 knots or more makes it almost impossible for pirates to board), erecting physical barriers and using hoses and foam to deter pirates.
“Regrettably, there is disturbing evidence to show that, in too many cases, this advice has either not reached shipping companies or their ships or has not been acted upon,” the circular letter says. The IMO goes on to urge “all those concerned, particularly Administrations, industry representative bodies, seafarer associations, shipowners and companies to take action to ensure that ships’ masters receive updated information unfailingly and that all the recommended preventive, evasive and defensive measures are fully and effectively implemented”.
The announcement follows the launch on February 3 of the IMO’s anti-piracy action plan, in support of the 2011 World Maritime Day theme: “Piracy: orchestrating the response”. The action plan was launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said the escalation of piracy off the Somali coast is “completely unacceptable” and requires urgent action. He welcomed the decision of the IMO to pay special attention to this serious threat during the year ahead.
Also present at the launch was Colonel Richard Spencer, who criticised the shipping industry for in many cases failing to take adequate self-protection measures or assist the co-ordinating naval bodies, even when they had advised authorities they were in the high risk zone. “NATO has taken to phoning up ships within 50 miles of a mothership sighting to warn them of the risk because ships are not reading the warnings they put out. They are sailing blind,” he said. “There is a reason why some flags consistently have the highest number of ships taken. I’m speechless as to why some flag states are not doing more.” He said naval forces had “observed non-compliance” on the ships of the top four flag states, Liberia, Panama, Marshall Islands and Bahamas.
As a result of the continuing piracy scourge, the IMO is encourages governments to provide extra naval and aerial surveillance in piracy affected areas and provide security forces with information on ship movements.
The IMO added that an information distribution facility (IDF) has been created to help security forces operating in the Gulf of Aden and the Western Indian Ocean to build a better picture of where ships are, in order to provide warnings of pirate activity and to facilitate more effective repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships through the more effective deployment of the limited available naval and military resources.
Through the anti-piracy action plan, the IMO aims to strengthen its anti-piracy abilities and expand its reach to create a broader, global effort. The plan has six main goals for 2011 and beyond. These are:
to increase political pressure to secure the release of hostages;
to review and improve IMO guidelines and promote compliance with best
management practices and the recommended preventive, evasive and defensive
measures ships should follow;
to improve support from and co-ordination with navies;
to promote anti-piracy co-operation between states and the industry;
to deter, interdict and bring to justice pirates;
and to provide care, during the post-traumatic period, for those attacked or hijacked
by pirates.

Authorities misunderstand Somali piracy By Sanchay Jain (WSN/nyunews)
With all the turmoil in Northern African and Middle Eastern countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan, it is very easy to forget about the chronically ravaged nation of Somalia — one that has been in a state of civil war for years.
But just when the international community seems ready to ignore its problems, Somalia's infamous and yet arguably most successful industry steps up to issue a firm reminder.
That industry, of course, is piracy.
The latest pirate raid came last Wednesday, 200 nautical miles east of Oman, when pirates captured the Greek-flagged Irene SL, a supertanker that was carrying approximately $150 million in oil to the Gulf of Mexico. The previous day, pirates hijacked an Italian-flagged tanker on its way to Malaysia.
Estimates suggest that Somali pirates currently have 29 ships and 660 hostages. These high numbers come after recent success in thwarting piracy and freeing hostages.
In the past two weeks, the Indian navy has embarked on a campaign to attack pirate "mother ships," which are larger, hijacked vessels that the pirates use as marine-based headquarters. This campaign led to the capture of 43 pirates and the rescue of 44 hostages.
Of course, attacks like these, while jeopardizing the lives of the hostages on board the "mother ships," still maintain a large degree of effectiveness. It seems likely that as the pirate attacks increase in frequency and distance from Somali territory, similar anti-piracy tactics will be employed with greater rapidity by the international community at-large.
But when a financial situation becomes as grim as it currently is in Somalia, piracy cannot be stopped.
Somalia's per capita income is approximately $600 dollars, a figure that must be questioned on the basis that Somalia's last official census took place in 1975, according to the CIA World Fact Book.
While the Transitional Federal Government is the officially recognized ruling body of the nation, it only controls portions of the capital, Mogadishu — a result of nearly 20 years of post-dictatorial (Siad Barre) warfare between the TFG and the Islamic Court Union, with its presumably al-Qaida affiliated splinter groups.
And of course, adding to chaos is the fact that there are three autonomous regions within the nation itself.
Considering the failed state of any central government since the Siad Barre dictatorship, piracy has become an important tool for the Somali people for two reasons.
First, it injects a substantial amount of money into an economy of which 70 percent is based on agriculture and that is often stalled by the pervasive violence. Pirates, spending ransom money within Somalia, have boosted local industries and shops, providing amenities such as generators and cars.
But more importantly, the nonexistent federal government has allowed major corporations to exploit the Somali coast. European companies have found the coast to be a cheap destination to dump over 10 million tons of toxic waste. Meanwhile, foreign fishing vessels have made away with $300 million worth of fish annually.
Piracy has served as an equalizer in Somalia, also scaring away corporations trying to continue the streak of exploitation. Proof has come from the research of marine biologists, who believe that the recent rise of local fishing stock stems from a lack of commercial-scale fishing.
Ultimately, piracy is a major problem for the international community, but not for the reasons it reports. Failure to stop this industry is merely proof that not much else is working in Somalia itself.

MAKING THE GOATS THE GARDENERS
Germany: NATO To Consult Lloyd's On Horn Of Africa Mission
Nato to consult Lloyd's on piracy by Mairi MacDonald Post Online
The Lloyd’s Market Association is to discuss anti-piracy issues in Germany with officers from Nato.
Neil Smith, LMA head of underwriting, will offer Nato officers an insight into the London insurance market’s perspective on piracy and explain how the market handles this risk.
Mr Smith said: “Nato is keen to get a broader, non-military perspective on piracy. They particularly want to understand its impact on insurers, both operational and financial.
“The LMA believes this is a very positive initiative and I’m delighted to have been asked to talk to these officers.”
EU NAVFOR is the European Union’s naval force combating piracy in the waters off Somalia. Nato personnel make up a major part of the force. The anti-piracy workshop takes place at the Nato School in Oberammergau, Germany next week.

Shipowner: ‘Shoot the pirates’ By Nina Berglund (Views and News from Norway)
Shipowner Jacob Stolt-Nielsen is recommending extreme measures to deal with sea pirates off Somalia.
A 79-year-old veteran of Norway’s shipping industry thinks the international community and his own country are being much too kind in their dealings with today’s sea pirates off Somalia. He wants to shoot them on the spot.
Jacob Stolt-Nielsen, patriarch of the Stolt-Nielsen shipping empire, wrote a commentary in newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) on Tuesday that pirates caught in international waters “always have been punished with death, most often executed on the spot.” He thinks the practice should be taken up again.
“Perhaps I was a bit tough in the commentary, but I’m just telling it like it is,” Stolt-Nielsen told DN. “The way to solve the pirate problem is to sink the pirates and their ships.”
Stolt-Nielsen said he’s been “shocked” over the “low priority” given to piracy by the Norwegian government, which has only sent one frigate to the area for a limited time, has blocked efforts to arm a vessel that was to be used to patrol waters off Somalia to protect its shipping fleet, and otherwise mostly hopes foreign aid to Somalia will help lure Somalians away from piracy. Stolt-Nielsen clearly thinks that response is far too mild.
“The only way to fight piracy is to hang the pirates,” he said. “The only language they understand is force.”
His son, Niels Stolt-Nielsen, earlier told DN that the company he now runs has begun having armed guards on board their vessels. A few other Norwegian shipowners are doing the same.
The Norwegian Shipowners Association has also harshly criticized the Norwegian government for failing to be tough enough on piracy, but it distanced itself from Stolt-Nielsen’s call for pirate executions. So did Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre on Tuesday, although Støre told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that he “understood the shipoweners’ frustration.”
There have been nearly 40 pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean so far this year alone, while more than 700 seafarers are being held hostage aboard dozens of ships from 20 nations. South Korean special forces managed to counter a pirate attack last month against a Norwegian ship that was on charter to a South Korean company.

Norwegian ship owner: ‘Hang the pirates’ by Michael Sandelson (TheForeigner)
Shipping magnate Jacob Stolt-Nielsen advocates stronger measures to deal with the spate of hijackings by Somali pirates.
“The only way to put this business in decline is to hang them,” he tells Dagens Næringsliv (DN).
Swashbuckling
He expresses his frustration at what he claims is the international community’s lily-livered approach to the Somali pirates, where they are captured, released, or tried in an international court, saying, “the only language these pirates understand is force.”
“Sinking their ship will all hands aboard is the way to solve the problem.”
So far, the company is the only one who admits having armed guards on board, paying approximately one million dollars per month for its some 150 ships for the facility.
CEO Niels G. Stolt Nielsen has inherited his father’s uncompromising attitude, telling DN a few weeks ago that they have also used barbed wire and hot water to repel the pirates.
Last week saw two hijackings.  On Tuesday, Somali pirates seized Italian tanker Savina Caylyn in the Indian Ocean some 800 kilometres (500 miles) west of India, with approximately 60 million dollars worth of crude onboard.
Just one day later, another band hijacked US-bound tanker “Irene SL” off the coast of Oman with her cargo of crude to the value of approximately 200 million. This was one of the largest hijackings in the area to date.
High price
Despite the total of over 700 crew and some 30 vessels taken hostage to date, Jacob Stolt-Nielsen believes eliminating the pirates is worth the risk.
“It is conceivable the pirates would take revenge on the crews they are already holding hostage, one must realise this. However, this is war, and wars cost lives,” he says.
To justify his suggestion further, Mr Stolt-Nielsen draws parallels with history.
“Pirates captured in international waters have always been punished with death, often carried out there and then. The Romans had problems in northern Africa, the Vikings were pirates, and North African so-called ‘Barbary Corsair’ pirates controlled the Strait of Gibraltar for hundreds of years. The business will only stop when it starts costing the pirates too high a price.

STLT NLSN WAS FAST TO GIVE A PR-CONTRACT TO MEDIAHOUSE THOMSON-REUTERS TO SPIN THE SPIN
Stolt-Nielsen Limited Comments on the Article in Today's Copy of Dagens Næringsliv
(Thomson Reuters ONE via COMTEX News Network) (good example how "paid for news)
Stolt-Nielsen Limited (Oslo Bors: SNI) would like to comment on the article in today's copy of Dagens Naeringsliv on the subject of piracy
Stolt-Nielsen Limited ("SNL") would like to emphasise that the comments contained within the article are Mr. Jacob Stolt-Nielsen's own personal opinion.
SNL will first and foremost do what it takes to protect our crews and, in so doing, our ships and the cargoes of our customers.
SNL supports outside government intervention to stabilise Somalia, as shipping industry organisations have been urging for some time. Anarchy on land enables anarchy at sea. It is unrealistic to expect an end to piracy without establishing some form of government order in Somalia. Furthermore, the company fully supports industry calls on governments for more - and broader - naval protection. The piracy situation is not improving, it is escalating. Governments collectively need to step up to the challenge by taking action now and not wait and hope that the problem will disappear.
In view of the current crisis in the Indian Ocean with over 700 seafarers being held hostage and most recently a seafarer being executed, ship operators must be able to retain all possible options available to deter attacks and defend their crews against piracy. When the company has no alternative it will continue the use of armed guards, which has proved to be effective as a deterrent.
It should be stressed that the Risk Assessment and Mitigation Measures deployed by SNL have been shared fully with flags, insurers and major customers - and that we are in full compliance with all of their requirements.

Evolution of Somaly piracy: from farce to tragedy  By Mikhail Voytenko
Situation in Indian ocean seems to be nearly desperate. After weeks of hysteria in media, fuelled by international maritime organizations and navies, heads of world shipping apparently decided that public is ripe for what they’re going to propose. The head of Royal Dutch Shell, Jan Kopernicki, demanded navies to be more robust and attack pirates mother-ships, notwithstanding crews causalities. He was backed by the head of seafarer union Nautilus International. All of sudden, world and industry media found pirates to become cruel, starting to kill and torture captured seafarers. Media, fed by navies and shipping leaders, described Beluga Nomination tragedy as an example of such cruelty. Seychelles coast guard boat and Danish frigate closed already captured vessel and opened fire, three sailors died, and all media described their deaths as cold-blooded murder carried out by infuriated pirates. No media questioned the credibility of  the whole story, as it was presented to us by navies and politicians. No media mused over logical question – why did navies open fire on already hijacked vessel with crew held by pirates, in the first place? Suppose passenger plane is hijacked by bandits (not terrorists) requesting money, and some military happens to be nearby, with plane belonging to other from military State, and not a single person on a plane who’s citizen of military’s State. Military decides to take a chance and tries to free plane, some bandits and passengers get killed, plane is not freed. Will world media consider such accident as something routine, will media accuse bandits and praise military for their initiative? How come, that while all the world considers Beluga N tragedy as a result of pirates cruelty, relatives of one of sailors who was killed blame navies for his death, not criminals?
The head of Intertanko, one Joe Angelo, demonstrated to all the world, without any hint of shame, his knowledge of tanker world. After VLCC Irene SL was hijacked on Feb 9, he said that it means "a significant shift in the impact of the piracy crisis in the Indian Ocean ". If Mr Angelo reads something related to tankers, even if it happens not often enough for him to know what is it he’s heading, maybe he’ll read this:
Irene SL is the fourth VLCC hijacked by Somali pirates in their history, previous three were:
VLCC Sirius Star (IMO 9384198) hijacked Nov 15 2008, released Jan 9 2009 for then record 3 mil USD;
VLCC Maran Centaurus (IMO: 9073050) hijacked Nov 30 2009, released for 5.5 mil ransom Jan 18 2010;
VLCC Samho Dream (IMO: 9235737) hijacked Apr 4 2010, released Nov 6 2010 for all-time record sum of 9.5 mil USD (ransom sum was claimed by pirates, owner didn’t confirm or reject it).
Mr Angelo and other shipping politicians said the Somali piracy, at it’s present level, is endangering vital for world economy sea lanes, main routes for oil and containers transportation.
They are either absolutely ignorant or lying. Ocean-going boxships are still safest among all types of world merchant ships, because of their high freeboard and speed. VLCCs are to be provided with armed guards, either military or private, and they’ll be as safe as Mr Angelo’s bank account.
There is in fact, no real danger to world shipping anyway, Somali piracy is too small-scale for that. But there is another danger, which became a grim reality, danger to crews. Thanks to navies backed by international maritime organizations, Somali pirates became desperate, because too often they’re killed by navies, whether they give up or fight, whether they kill crew or spare. Thanks to politicians, the only measure to guarantee safety, armed guards on board, is a private matter of each shipowner, not an obligation. All of them, politicians and navies, oppose armed guards in principle.
Somali piracy suited them all – navies, politicians, international maritime organizations and UN. But spiralling violence was something they weren’t prepared for, though there were more than enough warnings, and after all, it was only logical. Navies patrolling the region are like bloodhounds on the leash, they’re eager to shoot but they can’t. Some of them, Chinese, Indian and Russian, being not curbed by public control, were the first to get a taste of blood. Once, twice, thrice – questionable, to say the least, bloodshed went off not with accusations or investigations, but with universal approval and many awards for navies ranks. Other navies were dying out of envy, they wanted to join the fun, and finally, they’re in the game too.
Still, they hope they’ll be able to restore some kind of control over situation and restrict piracy to acceptable limits, so that everything will go on as before. Shipping leaders can’t handle navies, navies themselves can’t do it, so it was decided to blame pirates for all what happened recently, and eliminate most dangerous trend in Somali piracy - raids deep into the ocean on hijacked vessels used as mother-ships. How many innocent civilians will die is irrelevant, seamen are an expendable stock.
By such an outrageous step, as attacking mother-ships with hostages on board, politicians and navies plan to achieve another goal, to shift public attention, by giving public enough blood in news to forget about the roots of present situation, alas somebody would start asking some very unpleasant for politicians questions.
For more than two years politicians and navies intentionally opposed armed guards, if armed guards should be made a must, there won’t be any victims today, there won’t be in fact, any noticeable piracy in the region by now.  That’s only one thing they could and should do, and there are others things they could do long ago, to inhibit or eliminate piracy threat.
To cloak their former crimes, they’re preparing new ones, with enthusiastic help from world and industry media. I can’t but wonder at world media, who are they? Bunch of utterly non-professional individuals, incapable of earning living by more honest ways? If for example, Secretary General of IMO will be caught with bribery or a prostitute, media will raise a hell worldwide. But when he lies and falsifies for years on all matters related to Somali piracy, nobody gives a damn. It’s in the open, there are facts and there are statements of world shipping leaders, all a professional has to do is to compare them and make a scandal. No way. Give us Wikileaks, give us some bloody secrets fresh out of safe, then we’ll believe.
Industry media is a sorry sight even in comparison with international one, it’s a disgrace to shipping whom it claims it voices. No position of it’s own, no emotions, no analytic, but mind you, if they find some petty scandal, they won’t miss it. A sorry bunch of corporate news, mixed with accidents news and if lucky, with some scandals of reasonably safe proportions.
How situation will develop, if shipping leaders will success with their “shoot’em all” scheme, is anyone’s guess. How navies will storm VLCC Irene SL, already used by pirates as a mother-ship, is a story for Hollywood screenplay writers. Somali piracy turned from farce into tragedy, and society we live in, the so-called international community, is no less responsible for that, than Somalians.

Pirates are ‘masters of the ocean’ – and what to do about it By Guy (DefenceWeb)
As the world faces the prospect of the worst ever year for piracy, the United Nations has admitted that pirates are becoming masters of the ocean and that 90% of suspected pirates that are captured are released again.
Jack Lang, the United Nations Special Advisor on Somali Piracy and former French Culture minister said that “there is this race between the pirates and the international community, and progressively that race is being won by the pirates.”
“Piracy still increases,” Lang told the UN Security Council last month. “Nine out of ten pirates captured by naval forces are freed, despite efforts by many states to have a single jurisdiction,” Lang says, and adds that, "this impunity encourages piracy". Indeed, naval forces have released between 500 and 700 pirates over the last three years – some pirates have even been arrested several times, the Economist reports.
In January this year there were 35 attacks on ships, with seven of them being successful, giving the pirates a further 148 hostages, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB). The situation will worsen in March when the monsoon abates and the Arabian Sea grows calmer - experts predict 2011 will be the worst year of Somali piracy. The IMB also reports that 1 016 sailors were taken hostage off Somalia last year and 49 ships hijacked, while 28 ships with 638 crewmembers are currently being held.
According to Lang, “Piracy has created an economy with a level of sophistication. At first it was artisan, now it has taken on an industrial scope.” The rapid sophistication of its methods, organizational structures and resources have allowed pirates to demand high ransoms and launder money similar to the operation of a mafia. Ransom costs have increased markedly of late, amounting to US$238 million last year, or an average of US$5.4 million per ship, compared with US$150 000 in 2005 and $3.5 million at the end of 2009. The South Korean oil tanker Samho Dream set a new record when it was released for US$9.5 million in November last year.
“There are 1 500 [pirates] who are defying the world, defying the UN. We must act now, quickly and firmly,” Lang said. “So do we do nothing, or do we try to find more effective solutions?”
In a report delivered to the UN last month, Lang calls for a multi-dimensional approach to the issue: economic, security, and judicial or penitentiary. He stressed the need for effective specialised courts to prosecute captured pirates and equally the facilities to imprison them. He recommended the international community work towards “Somaliasation” of responses to piracy by setting up courts and prisons in Somaliland and Puntland in Somalia as well as in the Tanzanian town of Arusha. The Somali courts would operate under Somali jurisdiction and laws.
Lang called for a modest US$25 million special funding, in order to better coordinate and empower the fight against piracy. In comparison, the report estimates piracy costs the world economy $7 billion. The US$25 million would be used over three years.
In April last year, the UN Security Council called on all states to criminalise piracy under their domestic laws and urged Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to consider setting up a regional or international maritime piracy tribunal.
Some 700 suspected and convicted pirates are now in detention in 12 countries, more than half of them in Somalia, according to Yury Fedotov, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
At the moment very few countries are prepared to hold and prosecute pirates, while lawlessness in Somalia makes trials there practically impossible. Somalia has not had a central functioning government since the civil war that erupted following the overthrow of former president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. “The problem in Somalia is there is no state; this has been the case for twenty years,” Lang stressed, adding that political instability and poverty are rife, although the region of Somaliland is relatively stable and prosperous.
Somalia’s neighbour Kenya has become the lead prosecutor of suspected pirates, after persuasion from the West. In 2009 The European Union, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, China and Denmark signed anti-piracy agreements with Kenya, the BBC reports. Eighteen Somalis are currently serving long prison sentences in Kenya, according to the Economist, and 130 suspected pirates captured since 2008 are currently being held by the country.
In exchange for its help, the European Union invested roughly US$3 million in the country’s judicial system through the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, some of which went on building a special court for piracy trials. However, with its legal system already overloaded, the government is reluctant to take any more. In November last year a Kenyan High Court judge ruled in a case that the country had no jurisdiction over piracy committed in international waters, the BBC reports.
Meanwhile, the Seychelles has said it will host a second UN-supported centre to prosecute suspected pirates seized by foreign navies. It has amended its criminal code to enable it to prosecute them under universal jurisdiction, according to the BBC.
Despite the agreements with Kenya, suspected pirates have been taken to the Untied States, France, Yemen, Germany and the Netherlands, among others, for prosecution. In the first case to come to trial in Europe, a Dutch court sentenced five Somali men to five years in prison for attacking a Dutch Antilles-flagged cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden in 2009.
The International Maritime Bureau has said that the logistical and legal burdens involved in transporting pirate suspects to Western countries could be expensive and time-consuming. Another issue is if the pirates are set free, the prosecuting country has to deal with them and possibly grant them asylum - pirates captured by South Korea said they were liking their time in prison and had even asked to stay in the country, Reuters reports. The pirates were captured by South Korean commandos during a raid to free a hijacked chemical tanker on January 21. South Korean maritime police have formed a team of 50 officials to deal with the country’s first legal attempt to punish foreign pirates in a move that will be closely watched by other countries dealing with piracy.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) allows sovereign nations to seize and prosecute pirates but nations are often frustrated by cost, rules of engagement and politics. Whether a country wants to prosecute arrested pirates depends on its own law.
In their article, Fighting Piracy (which appeared in the February 2009 Armed Forces Journal), Commander James Kraska and Captain Brian Wilson state: "On the high seas or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of a state…pirated ships may be boarded, the pirates can be detained and the property on board the vessel can be seized and submitted to admiralty and criminal courts. The registry or 'flag' of the attacked vessel, the state of nationality of any of the victims or crew, the nationality of the on-scene warship, and, in some cases, coastal and port states, all have a valid basis for asserting jurisdiction. But it can take weeks or months to sort out these logistics and legal issues."
“If we do not act quickly, we will reach a point of no return,” Lang warned. “We can not spare our spending here.” Piracy costs between US$5 and US$9 billion a year, with a knock-on effect of increasing prices and reducing activity in the fishing and tourist industry, Lang said.
The UN and other organisations agree that solving piracy involves solving the issue on land, and not at sea, by creating economic prosperity, a functioning legal system and a stable government.
So far no nation, not even the United States, has seriously contemplated fighting piracy on land by destroying pirate bases, according to the Economist. Instead, the international community runs several seaborne anti-piracy missions off North Africa, with the European Naval Forces Operation Atalanta, NATO-led Operation Ocean Shield and Combined Taskforce 151 led by Americans. Atalanta was originally set up to safeguard the United Nation’s World Food Programme aid deliveries to Somalia but has expanded to take on a general anti-piracy role. Other nations like South Korea, China, Japan, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and India also have ships off the East African coast.
Although waters in the Gulf of Aden are now safer, the international efforts have pushed pirates move farther offshore, even going as far as India and Mozambique. Colonel Richard Spencer, the British chief of the EU’s naval force, told the Economist that policing this enlarged area would require five times as many warships as the international task forces can muster. According to Lang, “There are numerous gaps in the counterpiracy effort.”
While piracy off the Somali coast is most often in the spotlight, it is also a big problem in the Malacca Strait and the Caribbean, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
Pirates used to be most active in the Malacca Strait but piracy has been alleviated there through a successful campaign of patrolling, arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning pirates. Conditions onshore improved with a peace settlement among rebels in Aceh, which led to economic development and improved living conditions, Gulf News reports.
As the prospect of improving conditions in Somalia remains elusive, ship owners are exploring a variety of options to defend against piracy. BAE Systems, for example, recently demonstrated a prototype laser beam capable of “providing a visual warning to pirates at distances greater than 2 kilometres, and of disorientating attackers sufficiently at lesser distances so that weapons cannot be targeted effectively” at commercial vessels.
Italio-British company Selex Galileo has developed a detector, able to provide 2D and 3D imaging capability from a single laser illumination pulse (BiL) to give sailors enhanced recognition and identification capability, day and night.
In January Samsung Heavy Industries rolled out a system that alerts the crew to an approaching vessel and enables sailors to remotely fire water cannons at the attackers. Mace Personal Defence recently announced it had joined with Shipboard Defence Systems to create an anti-piracy device that would spray Mace pepper spray at boarders. Other anti-piracy systems work by using strobing lights to disorient attackers or firing a rope across the water to entangle propellers.
Another device is the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), which works at distances up to 300 metres by disorienting attackers with high energy sound. It was used in November 2005 when pirates attacked the Seabourn Spirit, and in November 2008 when the MV Biscaglia was attacked. The pirates failed to board the Seabourn Spirit but captured the Biscaglia.
Another solution is to have a protected ‘citadel’ or safe room from which crewmembers can safely steer the ship even with pirates aboard, until being rescued by naval forces. However, pirates are using explosives and cutting torches to breach some of these ‘citadels’.
Increasingly, ships are carrying private armed security guards - the German Ernst Komrowski shipping company said it will now have its 20 ships protected by armed guards and the Hamburg-based Offen shipping company says it will also put armed guards on ships passing through the pirate zone, Der Spiegel reports.
The problem with employing armed guards provokes a more brutal response from pirates while applying the historic cure for piracy – exemplary violence – would lead to many more dead hostages, the Economist reports. However, experts like US author Ralph Peters suggest that only when groups like pirates become exceedingly violent will the international community make a concerted effort to stamp out the problem.
Meanwhile, ships sailing in risky waters have been given guidelines to maintain a high cruising speed (travelling at 18 knots or more makes it almost impossible for pirates to board), erect physical barriers and use hoses and foam to deter pirates.
Historically, piracy has been stopped by hunting down and destroying pirate ships and bases. Many pirates, such as William ‘Captain’ Kidd (1645-1701) and ‘Calico Jack’ (Jack Rackham – 1682-1720), were hanged in the 17th and 18th centuries. Indeed, there was a time when "to see to it that any man who sails under a pirate flag or wears a pirate brand gets what he deserves: a short drop and sudden stop" - a hanging - was not just Hollywood dialogue (in this case Lieutenant James Norrington in Pirates of the Caribbean). Captured pirates in previous eras were notoriously "hanged from the nearest yardarm." Indeed, the last pirate to be hanged was Nat Gordon in New York in 1862.
Most studies of crime have concluded it is the certainty of capture and punishment (and not capture and punishment itself) that influences criminal behaviour. When nine out of ten pirates are released unpunished, it is hardly surprising that the IMB is predicting 2011 to be the worst year on record for incidents of piracy.

US expresses concern about maritime piracy By Allan Jacob (KT Exclusive)
The United States has expressed concern about rising maritime piracy in the region and the damage these attacks wreak on the already fragile, political, social, economic and humanitarian situation in eastern Africa. In an interview to Khaleej Times, Donna L. Hopkins, Coordinator of Counter Piracy and Maritime Security at the Bureau of Political Military Affairs, US Department of State, said deployment of more naval vessels would not solve the problem, which now reaches the Arabian Sea.
‘‘We are very concerned that pirate ransom money is actually undermining the development of sustainable legitimate economic activity such as fisheries and normal maritime trade,’’ said the counter-piracy official.
She revealed governments were cooperating on a judicial framework to prosecute the criminals. ‘‘Work is ongoing in dozens of cooperating governments to enable prosecution and incarceration of pirates.  Piracy is a crime of universal jurisdiction, and the United States firmly believes that every nation can and should prosecute pirates who attack their interests.’’
Affected states – the nations of the flag registry, the vessel owner or operator, the countries of nationalities of the crew – should pass national laws criminalising piracy and then prosecute criminals who attack their interests.  Several countries had successfully implemente this, including the United States, according to the official.
Additional naval patrols could be considered, but that’s not a solution to the larger problems prevailing in Somalia, besides there were not enough ships to patrol the entire Indian Ocean, said the official.
The US Navy’s 5th fleet based in Bahrain runs counter-piracy operations under the Combined Maritime Force, a 25-navy grouping to secure regional waters from threats. On the question of a larger US presence in the region’s waters to combat the menace, she said, ‘‘Not at this point in time.  Our efforts are focused on improving prosecution options and disrupting the illicit financial networks that enable piracy.’’
A greater participation from Middle Eastern navies to maintain security at seas was welcome, said the State Department official.
Experts put the annual cost of piracy at between $7 and 12 billion per year, but the US estimates it to be much more. ‘‘It’s very hard to quantify the economic costs of piracy, but I suspect the the figure is probably rather low. Just as important to us, however, are the human and social costs of piracy, the damage it is doing to the already tragic political and economic landscape of Somalia, and the terrible cost to innocent mariners who are held hostage and abused physically, mentally, and emotionally by pirates,’’ said Hopkins.
Last year was one of the highest on record with pirate activity off Somalia accounting for 92 per cent of all ship seizures. The International Maritime Bureau said 49 vessels were hijacked and 1,016 crew members taken hostage.
Hijackers are known to be currently holding hostages from Algeria, Bangladesh, Burma, China, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Montenegro, Mozambique, Pakistan, Phillipines, Romania, Russia, Serbia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam and Yemen.

Pirates vow to kill and mutilate bodies of Koreans (DN)
Somali pirates have vowed to revenge last month's killing of their colleagues by South Korean forces patrolling the Indian Ocean.
Talking on Shabelle, a major broadcaster in Mogadishu, a pirate leader Abdullahi Mohamud Abdulle said that they were upset by the (South) Korean’s killings of their compatriots.
Abdulle was speaking following the arrival of the bodies of the eight pirates killed during a rescue mission.
The bodies were brought back to Mogadishu by a chartered Korean plane, said to have originated from an airport in Oman in the Arabian Peninsula.
“We are going to avenge the deaths of our dead colleagues,” said Abdulle.
Massive presence
“We are going to mutilate the bodies of the Koreans we are holding as hostages, put their flesh in tins and send them to (South) Korea,” added the pirate official.
No Somali Government official was present to receive the bodies, according to airport sources that spoke on condition of anonymity.
The bodies were instead presented to the peacekeepers serving the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).
South Korea To Fly Bodies Of Pirates To Somalia (Bernama)
South Korea had planned for Wednesday to transport the bodies of eight Somali pirates which were killed in last month's commando raid on a South Korean freighter to the African nation, Yonhap news agency reported, quoting an official as saying.
The bodies, which have been kept in a police hospital mortuary since they were unloaded from the freed freighter Samho Jewelry last week, will be flown from Oman's Muscat to the Somali capital of Mogadishu on a charter plane, a foreign ministry official said.
A South Korean diplomat will travel on the charter plane to hand over the bodies to Somali officials.
The interim Somali government's foreign minister was expected to be at the airport to receive the bodies. [but wasn't]
South Korea has agreed to pay for the transportation cost.
The eight were among a total of 13 pirates that had seized the 11,500-tonne chemical carrier last month.
South Korea sent naval commandos to free the ship and its 21 crew members.
Five other pirates were captured and all of the crew were rescued alive, though the captain was seriously wounded.
The captured pirates have been brought to South Korea for investigation and trial.

Somali pirate to be sentenced in NYC case By Tom Hays (AP)
Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse has admitted he's a modern-day pirate. The U.S. government says he also had an old-school sadistic streak.
While terrorizing merchant ships on the Indian Ocean, Muse regularly aimed "his gun at the head of a hostage and pulled the trigger, laughing when the gun did not fire," federal prosecutors wrote in court papers. "Muse derived joy from the suffering of victims."
The prosecutors argued Muse's ruthlessness is one reason he should get nearly 34 years at sentencing Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom. Defense attorneys have countered in their court papers that their client, who's from Somalia, is an impoverished and naive young man whose crimes were born of desperation.
"The temptations of piracy were overwhelming for (Muse)," they said in seeking the 27-year minimum sentence. "He had so little to lose."
Muse's involvement in a brazen high-seas attack on a U.S.-flagged vessel and the dramatic rescue of the ship's kidnapped captain in 2009 made him an instant symbol of a 21st-century brand of piracy targeting shipping routes off the coast of Africa - and of stepped-up efforts to punish offenders through 19th-century maritime laws.
Late last year, a Virginia jury found five other Somali men guilty of exchanging gunfire with a U.S. Navy ship off the coast of Africa. Scholars called it the first piracy case to go to trial since 1861 during the Civil War, when a New York jury deadlocked on charges against 13 Southern privateers.
Aside from the novelty of his case, Muse became a curiosity because he defied swashbuckler stereotypes: The boyish, 5-foot-2 defendant has often looked bewildered in court and sometimes wept. Following his capture, his lawyers insisted he was 15 and should be tried as a juvenile; prosecutors convinced a judge he was at least 18.
In a guilty plea last year, Muse told a judge he was "very, very sorry about what we did."
Prosecutors branded Muse the ringleader of a band of armed pirates who commandeered at least three ships and kidnapped dozens of sailors. The last attack was on the Maersk Alabama on April 8, 2009, as it transported humanitarian supplies about 280 miles off the coast of Somalia, an impoverished East African nation of about 10 million people.
Muse was the first to board the 500-foot ship, firing his AK-47 assault rifle at the captain, Richard Phillips, prosecutors said. He ordered Phillips, of Underhill, Vt., to halt the vessel and then held him hostage for several days on a sweltering, enclosed lifeboat that was soon shadowed by three U.S. warships and a helicopter.
The English-speaking Muse taunted Phillips by threatening to "bury him in a shallow area of the ocean" and by telling his captive he "liked having hijacked an American ship and wanted to kill Americans," the government's court papers said.
The siege ended when Navy sharpshooters on the USS Bainbridge picked off the three pirates in a stunning nighttime operation, leaving Phillips untouched.
The defense has since claimed Muse was a low-level pirate who was following orders, and it accused the Navy of opening fire after he had negotiated Phillips' release. Defense lawyers also have stressed that their client comes from a troubled nation where piracy has become a multimillion-dollar business, despite a flotilla of international warships patrolling nearby waters.
Muse "would not be before the court for sentencing if not for the chaotic conditions prevalent in Somalia and the hunger and deprivation he has experienced in his young life," his lawyers wrote.
Prosecutors agreed it was likely Muse "endured an extremely difficult upbringing." But, they added, "so have millions of other citizens of Somalia."
"Unlike Muse, however," prosecutors said, "they have not resorted to preying on the defenseless and terrorizing the innocent - time after time."

Extension of TFP Term heralds catastrophe for Somalia By Mohamud M. Uluso (*)
It’s interesting to witness the intense vilification of the International Community (IC) by Ethiopia and Members of the Djibouti Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP-D) after the IC objected to the three-year self-extension of TFP-D’s tenure from August 22, 2011.
Ethiopia and Djibouti (IGAD) encouraged and defended the self-serving TFP’s decision. MP Hassan Abshir (former PM) said that the Parliament decided to extend its mandate after it became aware of the fact that the IC planned to organize a Somali conference outside Somalia for the selection of new MPs. Therefore, the rationale behind Parliament’s decision was to hold on to the power and thwart efforts to reform the Djibouti Transitional Federal Government (TFG-D).
In particular, the MPs have threatened Dr. Augustine P. Mahiga, UN Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), with formal protest and persona non grata edict. They have reminded the Somali public that the yearly salary bill of the IC staff assigned to Somalia, but stationed in Nairobi, Kenya was 112 million dollars, while the Somalis are dying of hunger and thirst. Furthermore, they have publicized that millions of dollars collected on behalf of the starving Somali people have been squandered in Nairobi, Kenya, without relief to the intended beneficiaries. TFP-D and Ethiopia like Al Shabab rejected foreign interference in Somalia and became defenders of the Somali sovereignty and dignity. But it’s an unholy alliance.
While Ethiopia applauded the “independent thinking of TFP” from the Nairobi based International Community, the TFG-D lobbied for indefinite extension but IGAD granted extension only to TFP-D and left the handling of the remaining political dispensation to the Somali people.
In this circumstance, the TFP-D led by Speaker Sharif Hassan is the horse Ethiopia rides on for its hegemonic policy over Somalia. The return of a Somali speaking Ethiopian diplomat to Mogadishu expedites the execution of that policy.
It’s absolutely foolish and a waste of time, desire and energy to argue on constitutionality, rationality and political legitimacy against TFG’s unlawful and irresponsible performance and behavior. Nevertheless, the unconstitutionality and fraudulence of the term extension is irrefutable and the Speaker’s handling of the process is lesson for the corrupt leadership style imposed on Somalia.
The TFP Speaker, who received a green light for the term extension from AddisAbaba before IGAD’s meeting, made a deal with about 100MPs hanging around in Nairobi, Kenya in order to secure a super majority of 550 MPs (75%). During the last 2 years, little more or less than 300 MPs attended Parliamentary sessions. Different sources indicated that the 100 MPs were bribed to go to Mogadishu. This shameful system of governance plagues Somalia.
Two days after IGAD’s public declaration, the Parliament approved the three year term extension easily with 97 % yes (435 present). Unfortunately, there is no official public record of parliament’s approved text. Speaking on behalf of Somalia, Ethiopia has said that there will be an election of President, Speaker, two deputies, and the appointment of a new Prime Minister. The President and the Prime Minister are in favor of the term extension.
In an interview with the VOA, TFP’s Speaker made few derisive remarks. He said that the MPs agreed not to make another extension after the 3 years as they have permanent legitimacy to extend their mandate. Erroneously he argued that the President, the Council of Ministers and the public cannot oppose TFP-D’s decision since TFG-D is based on the parliamentary system. The same argument was made by Ethiopia. However, the Charter allows Somali citizens to petition to the Supreme Court against the parliamentary law for unconstitutionality. A group of Somalis can submit a petition to the Supreme Court against the extension.
Another excuse for the extension was that the end of TFG-D term will create a political vacuum. It is senseless if the TFG-D leaders can’t yet see the real political vacuum and fragmentation the country suffers from. The power for the selection of new MPs is invested in the sub clans through their genuine traditional leaders until a free and fair election is practicable throughout the country. Therefore, community leaders (intellectuals, politicians, women, religious leaders) have the responsibility to select new MPs for a new Parliament that will replace the incompetent one. False representation is harmful and unacceptable.
The Speaker, who enjoys the chaos system of governance, failed to recognize that the extension of the parliament tenure was a political issue, which requires a political process among stakeholders before parliament acts on it. The Parliament as a whole failed to understand and respect the core vision and message of the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC). Stakeholders of TFG-D are clans, Mbagathi Groups, factions like ARS (Diaspora and Islamists), TFG-Kenya, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama, Hizbul Islam, Regional Administrations, and Civil Society.
While the extension issue is precluded in the Charter, there are constitutional concepts or principles included in the Charter that limit the amendment of certain provisions of the Charter. The Speaker and the Parliament ignored the substance and spirit of the TFC’s provisions outlined in the preamble, in article 1:1 on sovereignty of the people, in article 4 on the interpretation of the Charter, in article 30 on the selection of MPs, in article 32 (4) which explicitly forbids the extension of parliamentary tenure, and in article 33 (i) on the legislative functions and processes before a law is passed. The parliament is not free to amend constitutional articles concerning itself. More importantly, before extension, there should be a national dialogue after 7 years of total failure.
The parliament has purposefully avoided to fulfil its Constitutional Transitional Tasks before the end of its term. Therefore an extension is a reward for failure, political deception or abdication of duty. An acceptance of TFP-D term extension heralds a catastrophe for Somalia and will undermine its credibility in the eyes of the IC.
An end of the TFG-D is the first step for national reconciliation and peace, like the push-out of Hosni Mubarak and his government was key to Egypt’s stability and political reform.
Trained Military, Police and civil servants will continue their job under a different arrangement.
(*) Mr. Mohamud M. Uluso can be reached at mohamuduluso@gmail.com

Why Sufism is a bridge between the East and the West? By Dr Ehsan Azari Staniza
Who wants to break this bridge? On October 25, 2010 an al-Qaida affiliated militant group turned a majestic Sufi shrine into a bloodbath in the Punjab province of Pakistan, by detonating bombs hidden in milk cans, killing and wounding scores of innocent people. This was the latest of a spate of gruesome attacks on Sufism and dead Sufi saints this year alone, leaving hundreds of innocent people killed or wounded.  Such violence has brought a new upheaval to Islam, shaking its ethical and moral foundations and reducing it to a merely a radical political ideology.
The ideological driving force behind this violence is religious extremism which considers everyone outside its ideological league, Muslim or non Muslim, dead or alive, as an enemy and an infidel deserving to be killed.  The fanatics blow up ancient relics, Sufi heritage, Sufi shrines and the Sufi way of life everywhere they can.  They want to micromanage social, cultural and individual life. They condemn gatherings and ceremonies in Sufi saints’ graves, shaving beards, wearing charms, music and painting as heresy.  All this is like the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.
The history of Islam is not alien to violence against Sufism.  The root of the current upheaval lies in Wahhabism, which has been gradually institutionalised from a tiny band of theologians into a political ideology by the Saudi ruling dynasty.  The Wahhabi religious movement was originated by Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab (1703-1792), essentially to challenge the influence of the Ottoman Empire in the Arabian Peninsula.    The Saudi petrodollars and Pakistani military ruling elite have helped the spread of this fanatical form of Islam.
In addition, the vision of this ideology was empowered in the Middle East and South Asia by another extremist movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood which originally emerged in Egypt in the 1920s.  
The Brotherhood copied much of its ideological agenda, political structure, revolutionary features and a violent persuasion from Marxism.  Like the latter during the Cold War era, the Brotherhood’s ultimate objective has been to topple the state by violent means and extend a radical ideology to the West.  The Iranian revolution of late 1970s gave further impetus to this ideology, which began to justify the export of Islamic revolution as an Islamic obligation everywhere in the world.
Like Saudi rulers, the secular Pakistani cunning and sly generals began to use the most lethal religious radicals for domestic security and as a tool to promote its foreign policy in Afghanistan and India.  Pakistan served also as a gateway for the spread of Wahhabism in the region.  At present they are pinching American coins in return for carrying out the Pashtun genocide.
As it was hinted, war on Sufism is not a new phenomenon.  Hussein Al-Halaj, a great Sufi poet and teacher was condemned for heresy when in a state of mystical trance he exclaimed, “I am the Truth”.  He was cut to pieces and his remains were burnt by a mob in Baghdad in 922 AD.  He was the first Sufi martyr.
During the 17th-century Persian Safavid Empire, Sufis were suppressed, during the Indian Moguls, it flourished but in the twentieth-century the die-hard Turkish secular leader Kamal Atatürk banned Sufi monasteries and Sufi rituals in Turkey.
Sufism (comes from Arabic noun, suf, literary meaning course wool and the Sufi is the one wearing woolen garments) is the name of Islamic mysticism.  The word Sufism was coined in the West for the first time by the German scholar August Tholuck in 1821.  It has been divided into two practical and theoretical parts:  To those who practice it, Sufism means a quick spiritual foray into a space where the presence of the divine could be experienced.  To those who are concerned with its theory, it is a mystical and spiritual theology, a body of knowledge and an epistemology interwoven with Islamic metaphysical texts.
The Sufi philosophy was developed and promoted by the medieval Muslim philosophers such as Ibn-Arabi, Averroës (known in Islamic world as Ibn-i-Rushd), Avicenna and Farabi, who, for their Islamic Aristotelianism, were often referred to as the Oriental Peripatetics. This school of thought was greatly saturated with Plato and Aristotelian metaphysics.  The Sufis also have created a vast body of a literary and poetic heritage.
As an elixir of wisdom and an intellectual Yoga, Sufism has been known, cherished and even practised in the West since time immemorial.  It is hard to find a single great Western poet or thinker who has not been inspired by Sufism. Dr Johnson loved Sufi Oneness and pantheism; Voltaire in Candid saw Sufi philosophy as an antidote to religious extremism of his time.  Goethe loved Sufi poetry, Richard Burton and Robert Graves were keen on practicing Sufism.  Sufism was cherished by Australia's greatest poet professor Alec Derwent Hope.  Hegel draws on Sufi thought in his works.  Danish fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Andersen was the first who brought the news about the Sufi music and dance known as “Whirling Dervishes” to Europe.
Nobel laureate, Doris Lessing is the doyen of contemporary Sufis in the West.  She identifies Western admiration of Sufism since the 1960s as ‘a Sufi craze,’ and ‘Sufi bandwagon’.  For Lessing, Sufism was a kind of universal feeling, emotion, a quick fix and an access with no intermediary.  “Sufism is something one experiences on one's own,” she would say. In my own lectures in Australia and Europe, I came across with an enormous interest in Sufi philosophy and literature.
The al-Qaida zealots and the Pakistani militants will never win over Sufism.  They might destroy their tombs on earth but cannot steal away Sufism from the hearts of people in the East and the West.
The 13th-century great Sufi poet and the founder of the Whirling Dervishes, Rumi knew this.  He believed that fanatics will never extinguish the Sufi torch or destroy Sufi tombs as he says “when we are dead, see not our tombs in the earth, but find it in the hearts of the people.”  And the 17th-century Pashtun Sufi poet Rahman Baba, known in the West as the Nightingale-of-Peshawar to the vandals:
We are all one body,  whoever tortures another, wounds himself.
Last spring (2010), his mausoleum was bombed by the Punjabi Taliban.
Rumi declared the Sufi manifesto of universal love, tolerance of nonbelievers, pluralism and interfaith harmony in one of his quatrains:
Come, come whoever you are,  An unbeliever, a fire or idol-worshiper, come, Our convent is not of desperation,  Even if you have broken your vows a hundred time, Come, come again.
(*) Dr Ehsan Azari Stanizai is an Adjunct Fellow with Writing & Society Research Group, University of Western Sydney. The article was first published on www.international.to


- FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD:

Somali pirate handed 33+year sentence by US court By Basil Katz
* Muse pleaded guilty to attacks in May
* Judge finds him leader of pirates, cries over victims (Adds quotes from court, background)
A U.S.-American judge sentenced a Somali pirate to 33 years and nine months in prison on Wednesday for his role in the 2009 seizure of the Maersk Alabama container ship in the Indian Ocean.
Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse -- the sole surviving pirate after others were killed by U.S. Navy marksmen in a high-seas rescue -- was charged with kidnapping, hijacking and hostage-taking.
In a deal with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty in May.
Muse was extradited to the United States following the April 2009 attack on the Maersk Alabama, in which kidnapped Captain Richard Phillips was rescued while three captors around him were shot dead by sailors on another vessel.
"I ask for forgiveness to all the people that I harmed, and also the U.S. government," Muse told the court through a Somali interpreter. "I got my hands into something that was more powerful than me."
Muse was 16 at the time of the attacks, defense attorney Fiona Doherty said, although his exact age is unknown. Doherty had asked for a 27-year sentence, citing his young age and his growing up in the "failed state" of Somalia.
Manhattan federal court judge Loretta Preska broke into tears as she read aloud letters about the ordeal from the ship's crew and their family members. She said Muse was the leader of the band of pirates and should receive a stiff sentence to deter other pirates.
"(The pirates) appeared to relish even their most depraved acts of physical and psychological violence and abandoned all pretense of humane treatment for their captives," Preska said.
None of the ship's crew was killed.
The hijacking of ships near the coast of Somalia, where an Islamist insurgency and lawlessness has created a pirate safe haven, has cost the shipping industry millions of dollars.
"For five days that must have seemed like an eternity to his victims, Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse terrorized the captain and crew of the Maersk Alabama," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
The fight against piracy has been hampered by legal ambiguities over the appropriate venue to prosecute captured suspects. A U.N. envoy this month proposed special courts be set up rapidly in the Somali enclaves of Somaliland and Puntland, and in Tanzania, to try captured pirates

Egypt: No Iranian Warships Have Passed Through Suez (theyeshivaworld0
Iran has not requested to move any of its warships through the Suez Canal, an Egyptian official said Thursday.
“No Iranian warships sailed through the canal in the last two days and nothing is planned for the coming days either,” said Ahmed El-Manakhly, the transit director of the Suez Canal Authority.
“In order for any warship to cross the canal, their government needs to send a request to the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through their embassy in Cairo for approval and once approved, the warships can cross the canal. but for now, no official request has been submitted,” he said.
The development came a day after Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said two Iranian warships were expected to pass through the Suez Canal Wednesday night on their way to Syria.
“This is a provocation that proves that the self-confidence and insolence of the Iranians is growing from day to day,” he said. “This happens after the Iranian president’s visit to south Lebanon and his aggressive declarations there towards Israel.”
The Israeli Defense Ministry said Israel was monitoring the movement of the Iranian ships and alerted its allies.
On the report, oil prices spiked for a time on Wednesday.
The Suez Canal serves as a key passageway for international trade, allowing ships to navigate between Europe and Asia without having to go all the way around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
Millions of barrels of oil move through the Suez every day on the way to both Europe and North America.
Iranian Navy officials have said the flotilla has embarked on a yearlong training mission that takes it to the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea and through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
During the mission, Iranian Navy cadets are due to be trained and prepared for defending the country’s cargo ships and oil tankers.
Iranian Navy Cmdr. Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari said cadets would be trained to protect ships and tankers now under threat of attack from Somali pirates, Fars said. Part of the mission was also to gather intelligence.
Sayyari said the ships were in the region in “pursuit of a powerful (military) presence in the high seas and to consolidate our friendly ties and declare our message of peace and friendship to the regional countries.”
Liberman said Wednesday that Israel’s allies should pay attention after the news of the Iranians plan to enter the Suez.
“We expect the international community to act speedily with determination against the Iranian provocations, designed to deteriorate the situation in the area, and put the Iranians in their place,” he said.
Liberman’s comments were not so much a threat but a wake-up call about a “worrying development,” said a senior government official who was not identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The official said Liberman was “painting it as a challenge to the West.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamim Netanyahu’s office offered no immediate comment.

Iran says two warships to pass through Suez canal (Reuters)
Iranian state TV said on Thursday two Iranian warships are due to pass through the strategic Suez Canal -- an event that would mark the first such passage by the Islamic republic's navy since Iran's 1979 revolution.
A similar plan was announced on Wednesday but then canceled.
However, English-language Press TV subsequently quoted an official as saying the deployment was back on.
"Two Iranian warships are to cross the Suez Canal. The vessels are on their way to the Suez Canal," he said.
Egyptian authorities saw "nothing wrong" with the passage of the two warships through the canal, Press TV said.
"Iranian officials were in contact with officials in Cairo to secure the vessels passage," it quoted an unnamed Iranian navy official as saying.
The passage could be a potential policy headache for Egypt's new army rulers. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said after the first announcement that the move through the canal en route to Syria would be a "provocation."
It would be the first time since Iran's 1979 revolution that Iranian warships had passed through the canal. The revolution poisoned ties with Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel that year.
The canal is a vital commercial and strategic waterway between Europe and the Middle East and Asia. It is also a major source of revenues for the Egyptian government.

CHANGING EGYPTIAN PIRACY VIEWS REVEALED BY US EMBASSY CABLES

EGYPTIAN VIEWS ON COUNTER PIRACY, SOMALIA AND SUDAN
Passed to the Telegraph by WikiLeaks 8:21PM GMT 15 Feb 2011
Ref ID: 09CAIRO218
Date: 2/5/2009 15:09
Origin: Embassy Cairo
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Destination: 09KHARTOUM51|09KHARTOUM75
Header: VZCZCXRO3880PP RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRODE RUEHEG #0218/01 0361509ZNY CCCCC ZZHP 051509Z FEB 09FM AMEMBASSY CAIROTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1571INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVERUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVERUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVERUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVERUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 0003RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 1245RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0411RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0259
Tags: PREL,PTER,KCRM,EWWT,SO,SU,EG
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000218 SIPDIS DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ELA, AF/SPG, AF/E, NAIROBI FOR TRIMBLE E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/05/2019 TAGS: PREL, PTER, KCRM, EWWT, SO, SU, EG SUBJECT: EGYPTIAN VIEWS ON COUNTER PIRACY, SOMALIA AND SUDAN REF: A. KHARTOUM 51 B. KHARTOUM 75 Classified By: Minister Counselor for Economic and Political Affairs William R. Stewart for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.(C) Summary: The Egyptian MFA's Cabinet Advisor on African Affairs told us February 5 that Egypt believes "substantial progress" on Somalia was made in Djibouti over the past two weeks. The Government of Egypt (GOE) supports the election of Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmed as President of Somalia. The GOE also advocates for international support for the new Somali Government to help provide security. Egypt will host, in March, both the plenary session and working Group 4 of the Contact Group on Piracy of the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS). Egypt is concerned that Qatari and UN efforts to bring Darfur rebel groups to the negotiating table are undermining Minni Minawi and the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). Egypt also feels that a recent report, released by the UN SYG, reflect international acceptance of the eventual partition of Sudan and does not promote the unity of the country. End Summary.
------------------------------- Egypt Cautiously Optimistic on Somalia --------------------------------------
2.(C) Ahmed Abu Zeid, the Egyptian MFA's Cabinet Advisor on African Affairs, told us on February 4 that the GOE feels the new Somali Government made "substantial progress" during meeting in Djibouti over the last two weeks. He said new Somali President Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmed is the "choice of the Somali people," and the GOE has confidence in his abilities to reach out to all parties in Somalia. However, Abu Zeid stated that there are many challenges ahead including challenges to Shaykh Sharif, AMISOM, and the Djibouti process. He said the GOE wanted to wait and see how Shaykh Sharif dealt with these challenges. Abu Zeid advocated for international financial, logistical and training support to legitimize Shaykh Sharif and the new Somali Government. He stressed the need to facilitate the development of the Somali joint forces to provide much needed security.
------------------------ Egypt's Plans for Hosting Piracy Contact Group Meetings ----------------------------------
3.(C) Abu Zeid told us that Egypt accepted the offer by then-P/M A/S Kimmitt to host the next plenary session of the CGPCS in March. He said Egypt will host Working Group 4 (WG4), on improving diplomatic and public information on piracy, of the CGPCS and the plenary session "back-to-back" so as to minimize participant travel. Abu Zeid stated that Egypt is working on a concept paper for WG4 and will disseminate it to the participants. He said there was a need for a central point for all information on t...

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Ralph E. Stone February 18, 2011 2:15 pm (Pacific time)

Piracy is a deplorable act. However, the piracy reports omit some important background information. Consider, since 1992, foreign trawlers and vessels have been overfishing Somali territorial waters and at the same time dumping toxic waste, including nuclear waste, into its waters. These foreign vessels are from all of southern Europe, France, Spain, Greece, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and Norway. Somalia has become a free-for-all coast for dumping toxic waste. Somalia complained to the United Nations and the European Union, but were ignored. Somalia tried to chase these fishing "pirates" away, but they returned with navy escorts. With the loss of their livelihood, many of these fishermen turned to piracy. Perhaps, the United Nations and the world should have taken Somalia's complaints seriously.

Editor: Good call Ralph, I explain this to people frequently.  

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