Life after piracy?

“We have them in camps,” Afweyne says, speaking through a translator, “Like snakes in a cage.” He is talking about the more than 900 pirates being rehabilitated by the local administration.

Is there life after piracy in Somalia? The headache of Al Shabaab, politics

“We have them in camps,” Afweyne says, speaking through a translator, “Like snakes in a cage.”

He is talking about the more than 900 pirates — from rank-and-file guards to top financiers — in the central Somali state of Ximan iyo Xeeb, being rehabilitated by the local administration.

Assuming this figure is accurate, it would represent nearly all pirates thought to operate in central Somalia, one of the country’s two pirate centres of gravity — the other being the region of Puntland to the north.

In both regions, pirate bosses and their financial backers have been able to obtain protection through personal connections — through bribery and payoffs to local powerbrokers — and by playing on traditional systems of patronage.

Mohamed Abdi Hassan “Afweyne” knows this system better than most, being one of the first and most prolific Somali pirate kingpins.

His organisation was by all objective accounts sophisticated and successful, so much so that it laid the groundwork for the modern hijack-for-ransom business model of Somali piracy that has seen skyrocketing ransom payments. In every sense, he is an unlikely counter-piracy official.

But the business of piracy is fundamentally about local politics and protection, and in the messy political reality of Somalia, any sustainable anti-piracy solution will need a sizeable infusion of personal clout and social capital to be successful. In other words, it may in fact need the Afweynes of this world.

Click here to continue to full article.

Source: The East African.

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