March 2010
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Billie Silvey
Piracy Today
Piracy is not just a romantic conceit or a
historic phenomenon, it’s a
geopolitical and economic reality  today.

Piracy predates the pyramids.  Ever
since people first began carrying
passengers and cargo in ships, merchant
vessels have been seen as profitable
targets.  

Piracy thrives in waterways where
rewards are rich and risk is slight, where
poverty abounds and laws are few.
Today, piracy is on the rise as pirates ply the waters off
Indonesia, Yemen and Somalia from the Gulf of Aden into the
Indian Ocean.

Hidden coves and weak governments make the
Strait of
Malacca the most dangerous place in the world with over
50,000 ships passing between Malaysia and Sumatra, tempting
pirate attacks.

Pirates engage in terrorism, robbery, hijacking, murder, rape,
and mutilation.  Armed with automatic weapons supplied by
terrorists and warlords, today’s pirates use sophisticated
technology to track everything from large merchant ships and
tankers to yachts and small boats.  When they spot a likely
target, they dart out on small, high-speed boats.

In 2000, piracy increased by 57%.  Wealthy environmentalist
Sir Peter Blake was murdered by pirates in 2001.  In 2005,
Somali pirates robbed food aid bound for their starving
countrymen.  In 2008, Somali pirates captured their largest
prize, the tanker
Sirius Star (See chart below).

In a unanimously adopted resolution last November, the United
Nations Security Council reauthorized measures to combat
piracy off Somalia's coast, expressing concern that escalating
ransom payments and lack of enforcement of the 1992 arms
embargo are contributing to the growth of piracy.

The resolution called on states to deploy naval vessels, arms and
military aircraft to fight piracy off the Somalian coast.

According to US Ambassador
Susan Rice, the measure is timely
due to increased attacks.  "It creates greater impetus for more
effective domestic prosecution of pirates of various countries
around the world."

The Security Council called on all states to cooperate in
determining jurisdiction, and in investigating and prosecuting
piracy and armed robbery off Somalia.
Golden Age
Captain Blood
from Globalwhelming, 2009