The Pirate Wars

Will the next war be a naval one? From FP:

NATO escorted a humanitarian ship to the coast Wednesday, following the U.N. Security Council’s request last week. Today, India announced its first ship deployment to Somalia’s Gulf of Aden to protect the 90 percent of India’s trade (by volume) that travels that route. The latest additions mean that some 10 countries have sent or are sending their forces to stop the pirates.

But the newly arriving warships will face the wrath of Somalia’s Islamic Courts, the party that governed Somalia until an Ethiopian incursion installed a transitional government in late 2006. That governing body, now operating largely underground, has declared war on the incoming vessels.

Pirates in recent years have made millions in ransom — booty that has funded satellite phones, weapons, and GPS systems. Plus, the pirates are political — angry at foreign shipping off their coast and political neglect at home. So, as the European Union’s special envoy told the AP, solving the problem is “not only a matter of sending ships, it is also a matter of entering into dialogue on the ground.”

Of course, where some see gloom, others see opportunity. Blackwater Security, the infamous private defense firm, has offered one of its ships to man the Gulf of Aden, perhaps hoping to win contracts from the world’s shipping companies to guard their fleets. The Somali government looks interested, but a similar government deal with a French security firm fell apart over miscommunication earlier this summer.

The piratocracies of Somalia, having been given time to grow their political and technological roots, will be all but impossible to uproot. It’s been decades since Prohibition and the U.S. is still cleaning up the mafioso aftermath. Prepare for decades of trouble in the Gulf of Eden.