The Virtue of Fighting Back

Suppression of piracy off Somalia is a double-edged sword.

The Virtue of Fighting Back

The Somali pirates are a problem again, mainly because they are no longer a problem. It works like this. Armed guards and aggressive naval and air patrolling off the Somali coast have reduced pirate activity to the lowest level in a decade. That means only (seven attacks so far this year with no ships seized. Most shipping companies and governments paying for their warships and aircraft to patrol the coast agree that the main deterrent was finally allowing armed guards on merchant ships. This increases costs a few thousand dollars for ships that pass near the Somali coast, but shipping companies note that just firing warning shots will cause pirates to turn away 90 percent of the time and when the pirates keep coming having a few shots hit their boats has always caused persistent attackers to turn and flee.

It’s not just gunfire that has caused the pirates to disappear lack of income has done the same. All the Somali pirates still operating are small time operators hoping to strike it rich with a long-shot success. In the last year all the larger pirate organizations have shut down. Two of the major pirate gang leaders publicly announced that they had gotten out for the simple and obvious fact that no one was capturing large ships and earning multi-million dollar ransoms anymore.

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