Pirates vs. International Armada


The Somali news outlet WardeerNews is telling a very different story about the “pirates” in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia than what we are hearing in the U.S. news.

There’s no easy answer to dealing with a failed state such as Somalia. The “Somali pirates,” as they are lumped together, are a mix of jihadis, drug dealing gangs, and poor people driven to desperate measures to feed their families. But escalating violence by the international armada is not the right direction, nor will it lead to a lasting solution.

Listening carefully to the complicated factors “on the ground” (or the high seas) and valuing the legitimate grievances present by those on the bottom IS a good direction.

An April 12 op-ed by Muuse Yuusuf writing from Somalia gives context for what’s going on. Here’s an excerpt:

The dumping of toxic and industrial waste in Somalia’s waters is another issue that has not been fully investigated or taken up by the media. However, UN reports indicate that as early as 1990s European companies had been dumping hazardous industrial waste in Somali waters, as this was the cheapest option for them. This is what a UN official has to say about this sensitive issue; “Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting about the early 1990s and continuing through the civil war there,” he noted.

“European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of waste there, costing as little as $2.50 a ton where disposal costs in Europe are something like $250 a ton.  And the waste is many different kinds.  There is lead.  There is heavy metal like cadmium and mercury.  There is industrial waste and there is hospital waste, chemical wastes. You name it,” said Mr. Nuttal, a spokes person for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Somali news outlet WardeerNews ran an op-ed piece last December titled Piracy in Somalia: An Act of Terrorism or a Territorial Defense Mechanism?.

Their editorial conclusion:

WardheerNews believes that the real solution lays on-shore. Short of reinstating the Somali nation state would successfully solve either the piracy problem at hand or larger terrorist activities which lately became a main stay in Somalia. The world community must articulate a comprehensive strategy to stop the piracy in Somalia without further violating the territorial integrity of Somalia.

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