Horn of Africa

  • Just Say No to a War on Piracy

    Secretary of Defense Bob Gates recently told an audience in Bahrain, “Under the United Nations Security Council resolution passed last week, members of the international community must work together to aggressively pursue and deter piracy.” This should not be interpreted as a new “war on piracy” or a call to wage war against pirates, a policy that would not bring stability to the Gulf of Aden.

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  • Maritime Shock and Awe Won't Fix Piracy

    The rash of ships hijacked in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden has focused the international community’s efforts to put an end to the scourge of piracy off the Somali coast. But eradicating piracy once and for all will require more than tough talk, sending in a few warships, and establishing shipping lanes that commercial ships must transit through if they want protection.

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  • Improving Our Maritime Vision

    Improving Our Maritime Vision

    Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia and the sea-borne infiltration of terrorists into Mumbai are graphic (and recent) reminders why maritime domain awareness — being aware of activity occurring on or under the water that has a direct impact on a country's safety and security  —  matters.  Transatlantic cooperation has already succeeding in making the Mediterranean a safer place. Now it is time to direct our attention further afield.

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  • Learning from the Barbary Pirates

    Learning from the Barbary Pirates

    Amidst all the angst and astonishment about those wild and crazy Somali pirates, we seem to have forgotten that we’ve been through this movie before. It was more than two centuries ago when Muslim pirates were, after England, perhaps the most serious foreign threat bedeviling the new American republic. And the policy response too, is instructive today, though the issues raised are more complex.

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  • Somali Piracy: Trouble on the High Seas

    "What can be done about the growing threat of Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden?" seems to be the question of the week.  Saturday's seizure of the Saudi ship Sirius Star, an oil tanker carrying about $100 million worth of cargo, set off a wave of pirate activity this week, culminating with news that an Indian frigate sank a pirate vessel late Tuesday.

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  • Russia to NATO: Let’s Invade Somalia

    The latest seizure of a Saudi oil tanker by Somali pirates presents an opportunity to improve relations between Russia and NATO. Russia's ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has called for an international ground military operation to better combat rampant piracy in the region. "It's up to the European Union, NATO and others to launch a coastal land operation to eliminate the pirates…naval action alone will not be enough to liquidate the threat of piracy."  Rogozin is right: there are limits to providing armed escorts or security teams for merchant ships. 

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  • Piracy’s Silver Lining?

    I recently outlined the growing challenge to international commerce and security posed by the burgeoning piracy in the waters off the Somali coast and lamented that it looked unlikely that the international community would muster the political will to confront the underlying causes of the pirate phenomenon. Nonetheless, there may be an upside to the crisis:  An opportunity for Russia and the West to work together.

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  • Blue Helmets and Gray Hulls: The Need for Maritime Peacekeeping

    When thinking about peacekeeping, blue-helmeted soldiers come to mind. With 82,000 peacekeepers deployed on sixteen active UN peacekeeping operations around the world, that’s not surprising.   Recent piracy activity in the Gulf of Aden, though, suggests that peacekeeping needs to encompass the maritime domain as well.

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  • The Challenge of Somali Piracy

    In a metaphor that the traditionally nomadic Somalis would undoubtedly appreciate, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Last Thursday, Somali pirates seized the Ukrainian-owned, Belizean-registered freighter Faina as it neared the Kenyan port of Mombasa. It was at least the sixtieth such attack for ransom this year in the waters surrounding the Horn of Africa and the pirates currently hold more than 200 hostages and approximately a dozen ships, mainly around Eyl, on the Gulf of Aden. 

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