Yemen and Somalia 57


I was interested to see that I have probably met Farouk Murtallab. He was a pupil at the British School in Lome when I used to visit it quite frequently from 1998 to 2001, because I had consular responsibility in Togo for most of the staff and some of the pupils.

Farouk’s “Training” in Yemen has immediately focused US and UK military attention further on the country. Yemen, like Somalia across the strait, does urgently need more attention – but not of the military kind. They require a major international effort to end crippling poverty, in support of a conflict resolution drive that must shun political, religious and ideological preconception. It would have to be a genuienly UN led affair.

It would be nice – but otiose – to think that the obscenely wealthy clique that runs Saudi Arabia would be far-sighted enough to provide the necessary funds. That won’t happen, or if it did there would be so many Saudi strings as to make conflict resolution impossible. It is also worth noting that the activities of Somali pirates in disrupting the shipping lanes are contributing to the poverty in Yemen.

Unfortunately, the West seems to have forgotten that policy responses other than military force exist, so what we will in fact see is an attempt to solve Yemen’s problems by killing more peole with drones.

Many of Somalia’s problems also arise from Western military destabilisation of regimes they don’t like. The idea that this would lead to a regime they do like is self-evidently foolish. Disastrous poverty and starvation appears viewed by the West as a price worth paying for their negative achievement.

Paradoxically, we ought to be killing more people off the coast of Somalia. The problems of piracy in the shipping lanes is becoming a real drag on trade that damages many poor countries. Terms of engagement for the EU and other international navies have to be varied to allow for much quicker resort to lethal force. The UK should follow the example of France, which is mounting guns and putting armed commandos on its flagged merchant ships in the region. Extirpating pirates is not only permissible in international law, it is an obligation, and quite rightly so.

A number of readers of this blog have a starry-eyed view of those raking in ens of millions of dollars in ransoms, viewing then as noble dispossessed fisher-folk, turned Robin Hood because to fight the evils of pollution and global warming.

Bullshit. They are well-organised criminal gangs, centrally controlled and supplied and operating with clear tactics and their own terms of engagement, who receive training and logistic support from white mercenaries based in South Africa. This is information I have gathered in Africa, directly from those genuinely involved in the actual local fisheries industry, whose livelihood is being ruined by the pirates.

As I have recently explained with regard to Iran, it is essential to the whole world that the principle of free passage for shipping is maintained without undue interference by coastal states, be it by government or non-governmental actors. The costs to the entire world economy of allowing that principle to slip, would be enormous.


57 thoughts on “Yemen and Somalia

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  • amk

    “Israel will defend herself against genocidal neighbours. You don’t like it? Go fuck yourself.”

    Palestinians will also defend themselves against genocidal neighbours.

    You talk of “context” but do not appear to realise that 80% of Gazans are descended from those “ethnically cleansed” from what is today Israel in 1948. Sderot once an Arab town before the Arabs were forced out. The Gazans have been living in an Israeli created ghetto for decades.

    Two wrongs do not make a right: indiscriminate attacks of Palestinians on Israelis or of Israelis on Palestinians are unjustifiable.

    “realise that the Jews are a nation.”

    The primary lesson from WW2 and the Holocaust, which Zionists* have failed to learn: ethno-nationalism is a really bad idea.

    *Zionism: the ideology that there should be a Jewish state in the Holy Land

    Zionist: a proponent of Zionism.

  • amk

    “even the Jews who criticise these evil fuckwits are branded anti-semite”

    Finkelstein’s mother survived a Nazi death camp. Calling him an anti-semite is truly perverse.

    His mother learnt the correct lesson from the experience though: tribalism, including ethno-nationalism, is bad. Norman learnt that from her.

  • crab

    Amk you must be wrong, because anyone who disagrees with Gordon Bennet is an utter vile stupid driveling short plank idiot Jew-hating picnic moron, apparently.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    “Fisk has produced reams and reams of lies about Israel.”

    Gordon, one eye-opening thing about Fisk that no one has seemed to call him on is his flirtation with 911 truthy truth. Really tells you all you need to know about him.

    Same thing with John Pilger.

    (I might be wrong – someone might have called him on it).

  • glenn

    Damn, and I think ‘Gordon Bennet’ is someone desperately trying to sound oh so English, while fooling nobody at all. Does that mean I’m an anti-semite for pointing that out? And is my Jewish wife a self-hating Jew for having a husband that thinks such things?

  • lwtc247

    – Judaism is a tribal monotheism.

    – Christianity is a universal monotheism.

    – Islam is a universal monotheism with the images and music removed. Bit like protestantism really.

    I quite like that 🙂

    You know the expression: “Given enough rope…”?, Well I think in light of Gordon Bennet, the genocide apologist, we should petition for a change “Even with no rope…”.

    Ah Crimeless Israyhell

    Land of the just

    admirable

    Godly people

    Oh Israyhell

    Viva ISrayhell

  • Steve Abbott

    Sorry Craig, I can’t agree.

    Fair enough to suggest killing pirates because free passage on the seas has to be guaranteed. How does this apply to free passage of environmental and economic terrorists encroaching on the coastline of an impoverished and powerless people? This is mass murder. This is not bullshit.

    I have worked in Somalia, and work regularly with the powerless and impoverished in many countries. States should take responsibilities for their own nationals far beyond guaranteeing their free passage. Considering the outright murder that the environmental terrorism of dumpers and over-fishers represents to those defenseless populations, what they deserve is not piracy, but outright confiscation and near-permanent imprisonment of the crews.

    If Somalia had a government they would not dare to devastate their waters. Somalia would have a government, were it not for western intervention to raise warlords to battle against the first semblance of a fair government they had had in about 22 years. This too is not bullshit.

  • ingo

    Whilst I do not agree with shooting pirates out of the water, for globalised trade ueber alles, I feel that we have missed a trick or two here in London and elsewhere. If these pirates get logistical support from mercenaries, then there is another lever somewhere that is not being used, why not has to be the question?

    There are many punitive measures that could be applied to those who steer this shanghaing of ships, but they are rejected, cause one never negotiates with terrorists and pirates, according to the FCO, unless of course its in our back yard and they are blowing up our ministers.

    Pirates that are captured should be held and used as bargaining chips for hostages, such as the Chandlers, or tarded against the goods they seized.

    I also believe that the communications between the pirates and their backers/handlers are interceptable, why have we not been able/unwilling to hit their soft underbelly here in London?

    As for Gordon bennet and his undying love for zionists, again, ueber alles in der Welt, please try reading some of prof. Avi shlaims work, if thats not enough, read the personal diary of the ex PM of Israel, Moshe Sharett, I presume you can read hebrew. Because you have got your head seriously in a muddle.

    Never, since the good will of the world population/ UN created a history of Israel, has any Government made serious attempts to foster a peacefull relationship with its neighbours on equal terms, live with it or change it to the better.

  • lwtc247-again

    “we ought to be killing more people off the coast of Somalia”

    “Fair enough to suggest killing pirates because free passage on the seas has to be guaranteed.”

    I can’t believe this!

  • Craig

    Rhisiart,

    I a not a pacifist. People under armed attack have the right to defend themselves. It is OK to fight those who repeatedly use armed force against defenceless civilians.

    Steve,

    There is an urgent need for resources for all African countries to protect their waters from over-fishing, particularly by illegal Korean and Japanese plunderers. Even non-failed African states don’t have the resources to do it. I think I tackle the issue in the Catholic Orangemen. But that does not justify armed attacks on civilian sailors. The vast majority, and quite possibly all, of those taken hostage have nothing to do with illegal dumping or illegal fishing. Many were carrying aid shipments.

    Trade is a good thing. You have to be slightly mad to believe trade is not a good thing. It – in terms of what we would now call international trade – has been essential to human development for at least 5,000 years.

  • dreoilin

    “The ‘benefit’ of Somalia’s pirates”

    Channel 4

    ” …Fisherman in Kenya have reported bumper catches of shark and shellfish because commercial fishing boats from China and Japan have been scared away.

    “Now the fishermen are able to catch up to £200 worth of fish per day in an area where the average daily earnings are less than £5.

    “The massive factory trawlers which used to drain their fish stocks have been scared away and that means there is a huge bounty for local fishermen, as well as helping to restore the health of the marine eco-system.”

    http://tinyurl.com/yzkmu72

    Worth throwing into the mix perhaps …

  • dreoilin

    “It is OK to fight those who repeatedly use armed force against defenceless civilians.”

    Yes, Craig, but I’m not aware that these pirates have killed any of the people they’ve taken and held? I may be wrong.

    But I was equally surprised that you announced that,

    “we ought to be killing more people off the coast of Somalia”

    Dealing with the problem – yes. Killing more people – not necessary, IMO.

  • Anonymous

    Re: The ‘benefit’ of Somalia’s pirates to fisheries and seabed:

    Interesting, dreoilin.

    Haven’t Somali’s empoverished economies had any benefit from the millions exhorted from the pirates, or is the bulk siphoned off by those – possibly white South Africans – who understand bank transfers?

  • paul

    Is not piracy defined as sailing around the seas stealing what doesnt belong to you? Ie. exactly what the foreign fisherman are doing to the Somalis? Hence you seem to be supporting the Somalis attacking the true pirates.

  • mike cobley

    Quoth Gordon Benito:

    “Mike Cobley whines about the siege of Gaza. I bet he thinks that Israeli children shelled for years and years at Sderot should have simply put up with it. After all, they are only Jews, and the proper role of Jews is to be murdered – and say Thank You.”

    My, what a busy little troll you are. For your information, I have been and always will be antiracist, regardless of what place on Earth people come from. I’m not anti-semitic, or anti-patagonian, or anti-chinese, or anti-french, or anti-american, or anti-nigerian, or anti-inuit, or anti-nepalese. I am, however, anti-STUPID! And you, Mr Bennet, are clearly in posession of more high-grade, platinum-plated STUPID than most.

    Here’s a basic analysis of the Israel-Pal situation, just for you. Israel has occupied, seized and ethnically cleansed territory formerly inhabited by Palestinians. It therefore follows that Israel is an OCCUPYING FORCE; this occupation has been condemned as illegal for decades by the international community but most importantly by the Palestinians themselves. And here’s the nub of it – an OCCUPIER who has taken territory by force and maintains control by force has no recourse to the plea of self-defense. None, nada, zip. When the Soviets rolled into Afghanistan any protestations or claims of self-defense were seen as laughable. Same applies in the occupied territories.

    You had the temerity to put into my mouth the words ‘they are only Jews, and the proper role of Jews is to be murdered – and say Thank You’, to which I can only say, sir, you are a fool. Israel is armed to the teeth with military forces that outgun all its neighbours, yet it stands there with its collective boot on the neck of the Palestinians and cries, ‘Stop being horrible to me!’ while turning the lives of Palestinian children into a shrieking, squalid hell.

    Apologists for Israeli actions are the whiners. No doubt you will see this response as hateful mud slung against the pristine, near-saintly edifice of blameless Israel. So be it. But dont think that you can come on here and blab your inanities with impunity.

  • Craig

    paul,

    no, that’s not how piracy is defined. And I think firm action should also be taken against illegal fishermen off Africa. I was working on that years before you ever heard of Somal pirates. But if you believe that the Somali pirates have anything to do with protecting fisheries rights, you are extraordinarily naive.

  • dreoilin

    “But if you believe that the Somali pirates have anything to do with protecting fisheries rights, you are extraordinarily naive.”–Craig

    The fact that Channel 4 put the word “benefit” in inverted commas indicated that they were saying there was an accidental (good) spin off. There was no suggestion that the Somalis were pirating for any purpose other than cash. The web page is a brief version of what was on the News programme.

  • lwtc247

    @ Craig.

    “Trade is a good thing. You have to be slightly mad to believe trade is not a good thing.” – Did someone say Trade wasn’t good? Now, Trade under this system of ever expanding debt as opposed to a non usury based system. Tell me… which is mad now?

  • doug scorgie

    Craig,

    Using deadly force against the Somali pirates seems so obvious to me. In view of the fact that the US and UK are not averse to killing people (whether illegal or not), why are they not doing so here? They could put out into the media that the pirates are working for al-Qaeda, for example, if they needed a reason to attack them. There has to be a reason for their inaction.

  • angrysoba

    “They could put out into the media that the pirates are working for al-Qaeda, for example, if they needed a reason to attack them. There has to be a reason for their inaction.”

    It always HAS to be a conspiracy round here, doesn’t it?

  • MickS

    Its a shame that the topic was hijacked part way through, its something that I keep wondering about. Why don’t we just shoot pirates?

    We used to shoot pirates in the distant past. The pirates are obviously armed and not adverse to using their weapons if pushed to it. Why is the Royal Navy unable to engage in international waters to prevent piracy?

    Isn’t one of the duties of the Royal Navy on patrol to protect ships flying under a British flag?

    I’m genuinely curious as to the answers as the current state of affairs confuses me.

  • MS

    “This isn’t 1942 any longer.” – Gordon Bennet

    My word,you sound as if it actually is!

    You could have been cast as the Bear Jew in Inglorious Basterds!

  • anno

    Craig: All three religions are subject to abuse by various structures set up to administer them.

    The knobbling of Saudi Arabia by the UK and US in the past, and the current US attacks on Sunni-friendly Shi’a groups in Yemen at Saudi Arabia’s behest, are examples of abuse by external forces, rather than a defiency in Islam.

    What puzzles me is that you and others do not support the Taliban when it tackles the corruption which causes so much abuse in Islamic countries. Afghans come to the UK and inform us of the abuses of the Taliban. But if you confront corruption, its beneficiaries will always have a sob story. Look at the bankers in the city of London. What follows is a concerted attack on the very people who are trying to tackle abuse.

    Rich people in Muslim countries command political obedience and they abuse everyone in the system and look who is defending them against reform. Same old, same old. Even in this country, if someone put in place the reforms of the banking non-industry and of politics in general which many of us advocate on this blog, millions of people would be rallied by the media to stop this destruction of our honoured institutions.

    It’s hard to deliver a just society, especially when those who support justice clearly prefer the status quo to the struggle for reform.

  • jimquk

    I am not starry-eyed about the Robin Hood qualities of the pirates. Nevertheless, the outrage focused on Somali pirates, while western media and governments largely ignore the misery on land in Somalia, is instructive of their priorities.

    The origins of piracy DO lie in the plundering of Somali fisheries; and until peace is restored in Somalia, this problem will not end.

  • jimquk

    I am not starry-eyed about the Robin Hood qualities of the pirates. Nevertheless, the outrage focused on Somali pirates, while western media and governments largely ignore the misery on land in Somalia, is instructive of their priorities.

    The origins of piracy DO lie in the plundering of Somali fisheries; and until peace is restored in Somalia, this problem will not end.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Somalian pirates may be armed criminals, but as far as i’m aware they’ve never killed a hostage and generally treat their hostages well – and other governments have a lot of responsibility for Somalis being left with the two options of poverty or piracy. During the Cold War the US and the USSR both spent time backing Siad Barre’s dictatorship and since it’s collapse have allowed massive arms sales to Somalia, dumped nuclear waste of its coasts and sent trawlers in to take much of the fish. Most of the pirates are from former fishing ports.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article6045092.ece

    So i really can’t agree with you on this Craig. Killing Somali pirates isn’t going to solve the problem here – it’d be dealing pretty brutally with the symptoms but not the causes.

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