Last week a Saudi supertanker was hijacked by Somali pirates off the coast of Kenya, making it the largest ship ever to have been seized in this way. The problem of Somali piracy is growing; in this post we hear bloggers’ reactions from around the Middle East.
Saudi blogger Ahmed Ba Aboud wants Arab nations, and international bodies, to do something about the reasons for the increase in piracy:
من المؤسف بالنسبة لي أن تجتمع الدول العربية المطلة على البحر الأحمر من أجل مناقشة سبل حماية الملاحة في البحر الأحمر و يتم تناسي الأسباب الجذرية للمشاكل الصومالية و الدور الإنساني و الديني و المنطقي المفترض تحمله تجاه الصومال و اهله.
Syrian blogger Maysaloon believes there is more to the story than meets the eye:
Apparently this Somali piracy issue has only become a problem since 2005, around the time that somebody started supplying the men with fast white speedboats. There is probably some truth to this, and somebody is probably making a lot of money out of this, so the actual pirates are getting only a fraction of the takings. Still, there are huge sums of money being paid in ransoms, lots of good which are being stolen and I'm not so sure I understand how well these goods are being sold in a country with practically no infrastructure. Recently a shipment of Russian tanks was also seized. Interesting that Somalia was only recently “liberated” by Ethiopian troops with US blessings.
Iraqi blogger Roads to Iraq also has a conspiracy theory, translating some opinions found on Arabic news sites:
There is some truth behind Yemen accusations of Western countries with ignoring the piracy to internationalize the Red Sea. … This is also what Al-Akhbar reported today saying:
Western fleets raises doubts about the nature of their mission… Puntland’s Minister of ports, Nur Said, the West fleet led by the United near the coast of Somalia was involved in the increasing piracy operation…Chairman of the Red Sea shipping company, Abdul Majeed Matar, recalled how the commander of a British warship, called the company to tell them the details of hijacking the company’s ship (Al-Mansoura) rather than to militarily intervene to prevent the operation.
The last clue is reported on Al-Sharq Al-Awsat by asking one of the pirates, who revealed:
Some countries provide the pirates with information about the routes of the ships in the area.
John Burgess, who writes about Saudi Arabia at Crossroads Arabia, reports on the kingdom's plans to get more involved in the attempts to control piracy:
Saudi Arabia has decided that it needs to play its fair role in confronting international piracy, particularly after the hijacking of Sirius Star, the Saudi-owned supertanker seized over the weekend. The tanker, which holds 1/4 of one day’s production of Saudi oil is being held off the coast of Somalia. While Saudi Arabia’s Navy is small, it does have ‘blue water’ capabilities. It can take part in anti-piracy patrols and is sufficiently armed to sink any pirate vessel, from attack boats to ‘mother ships’ from which they descend. The Saudi Navy is probably not large enough to do port-to-port escort duty, even for only the super-est of tankers, but might manage shorter escorts, through particularly dangerous waters. [...] The new Saudi assertiveness is pretty hot. Arab News, in an editorial, does call for attacks on the port cities of Somalia that are hosting the pirate fleets. And yes, ‘collateral damage’ is always a possibility when military action is taken. I don’t see any way to get around that. But perhaps if Arab armed forces were required to face up to that reality, it might change some of the overblown rhetoric about other unintended casualties in other wars.
Apparently the defense of shipping lanes has been outsourced to India just like everything else.
American-born Israeli Yisrael Medad is looking at the situation from a different angle:
If these [Arab] countries can't handle a dozen pirates, what can we expect against Iran going nuclear?
Jordanian blogger Hareega wants to offer the pirates a little encouragement – by linking to a Japanese animated version of Treasure Island he watched as a child:
To watch the clip, click here.