TABLE OF CONTENTS
ABBREVIATIONS & ACRONYMS
THE PRECONDITIONS FOR PIRACY IN SOMALIA
Illegal Fishing and Toxic Waste Dumping by Foreign States
Somalia’s Strategic Geographical Location
Somalia`s Clan Structure
PIRACY’S GROWTH FOLLOWING STATE FAILURE
Lack of Opportunity
The Lack of Food Security and Other Necessities
Ongoing Internal Violence
IMPACTS AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
This report provides an analysis of the conflict which exists in combatting maritime piracy in Somalia. It identifies key factors that are responsible for the development of Somali piracy and the actors which aim to stop it. Furthermore, the report addresses the legal, social, militaristic, economic, and political complications that arise from varying international strategies to effectively combat policy.
The report outlines several underlying historical and geographical factors followed by the impacts that Somalia has faced in terms of its central government’s collapse in 1991. As is discussed, Somalia as a failed state has allowed for piracy to flourish in conjunction with the described underlying factors. It also describes the cyclical trend, or feedback loop, that many of these factors have for promoting piracy while piracy in return antagonizes the issues caused by these factors.
The obstacles towards combating piracy are also discussed demonstrating the difficult scenario that policymakers will need to address in order to effectively treat the cause of piracy. In order to identify the contradiction that exists pertaining to the issue of Somali piracy, this report will focus on Somalia’s fractured society and its incompatibility with international democratic norms. As will become evident, the reduction of piracy hinges on the ability for Somalia’s central government to stabilize. However, due to the mentioned fractured society within Somalia, the ability to develop a stable and functional democratic government is in direct conflict with the nature of Somali society.
ABBREVIATIONS & ACRONYMS
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Somalia’s Transitional Federal Authority was Somalia’s most recent officially recognized government following state failure in 1991. It was this government that was largely in cooperation with Western powers to combat piracy in recent years. In September 2012, however, the TFA successfully transitioned to a central government. However, as it is yet to be seen if this new central government will differ from the TFA in its ability to maintain state sovereignty, this report assumes that conditions now are similar to those discussed throughout the report. Thus, the prospect of a ‘central government’ as discussed in this report speaks to a central government that is functional and demonstrates clear progress toward stability.
COMBATTING MARITIME PIRACY IN SOMALIA
Maritime piracy has become an increasingly problematic issue along Somalia’s coastline, especially within the past decade, as Somali pirates continue to attack merchant ships using the high-traffic Gulf of Aden transit corridor. As attacks have become more rampant, acts of piracy have begun to spread to regions further from the Somali coast in the Indian Ocean as well. This has prompted an international response to piracy’s growing threat to maritime trade security and to the lives of those working aboard merchant ships. However, while the current policy of protecting merchant ships with a coalition of state navies and private security organizations may be helpful in preventing some pirate attacks, this strategy is largely ineffective. This report will demonstrate the reasons why piracy has developed in Somalia and the obstacles facing the effective resolution of ending piracy in Somalia.
Pirate attacks are executed by Somali warlords to capture merchant ships and hold ransom their personnel and cargo for millions of dollars. This has led to lengthy negotiations, loss of life, and a growing need to combat piracy in Somalia by a wide variety of states. Not only do Somali acts of piracy lead to security concerns for merchant sailors but they also destabilize one of the world’s most important trade routes. With 20,000 ships passing through the Gulf of Aden per year, representing 12 percent of the world’s daily oil supply, attacks undoubtedly affect the world economy as well (Kraska & Wilson, 2008, p41). Consequently, a number of states have cooperatively deployed warships along the Somali coast to protect merchant ships from being attacked. However, as Murphy (2011, p.17) argues, this strategy is a “policy vacuum” as the inaction to treat the root cause of piracy on land is not being pursued. Furthermore, as Sterio (2012, p104) claims, the legal burdens which states face when apprehending pirates typically allows for a “catch-and-release” policy. Therefore, the current strategy of combatting piracy in Somalia is an ineffective one as it does not dissuade pirates to pursue other means of financial gain.
The question then arises as to why Somalia is such a piracy-prone state and what factors have contributed to the ongoing need for many Somalis to pursue such methods of income. Between 2008 and 2012, Somalia has ranked first on The Fund for Peace’s (2012) Failed States Index. For the purpose of this report, a state fails when its government no longer has the ability to effectively govern, protect, and maintain its population. As argued by Krasner (2004, p90), a failed state is marked by national authority structures that are “inadequate, incompetent, or abusive…[who] have sabotaged the economic well-being, violated the basic human rights, and undermined the physical security of their countries’ populations” (Krasner, 2004). Following the collapse of Somalia’s central government in 1991, widespread corruption, factional disputes, a rise in Islamic extremism, rampant poverty, famine, and mass cross-border migrations have occurred. Therefore, the lack of a functional Somali central government is characteristic of a failed state as defined by Krasner.