Bad Idea of the Day: Invade Somalia to Defeat Pirates

24.11.08

Categorie: Africa, Alliances, Naval, Piracy |

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Lasting solutions to the problem of piracy must play out on land, analysts say. But that doesn’t mean that the developed world should invade Somalia, as Russia has just proposed:

Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s envoy to NATO, said this week: “It’s up to the European Union, NATO and others to launch a coastal land operation to eliminate the pirates,” adding that this “should be coordinated with Russia.”

Pleas recall that the last time Western troops had a large presence in Somalia, in 1993, 18 Americans and hundreds of Somalis died in a brutal gun battle. And much of the bloodshed in Somalia today is an outgrowth of a brutal Ethiopian occupation. Somalia is not the kind of place you invade lightly, and certainly not just to kill a few pirates. (Hijacked tanker pictured.)

Ending piracy means encouraging Somalis to establish law and order on their own territory, while deterring pirates with naval patrols in international waters. An armed invasion would be counter-productive, by exacerbating the present nationalist insurgency and prolonging the country’s instability.

(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Related:
Pirates and Islamists: Enemies or Allies?
Somalis welcome Islamists’ return
Port fall might help piracy problem
Is secret sea lane working against pirates?
Puntland raids pirates
No easy solutions to piracy problem
What I learned from a Somali warlord
Secret sea lane for piracy protection
Peacekeepers, insurgents swap mortar fire
U.S. planes terrify Somalis
Somalia series
Ethiopians withdraw? Peace talks break down
Ship rescues Somalis
Who are Al Shabab?
Abducted journos’ vulnerability
Journos kidnapped!
Problems retrieving journos
Kidnapping: inside job?
Ransom pending?
Developments in kidnapping case
Ignored victims

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8 Responses to “Bad Idea of the Day: Invade Somalia to Defeat Pirates”

  1. Brian says:

    I’m with you: the unifying power offered by the Islamists appears to be Somalia’s only hope right now for law and order. Clearly, the hawks in the Bush admin. and elsewhere destroyed the best hope for a slightly *moderate* Islamic solution, when they bankrolled Ethiopia to kick out the UIC.

    And since we all know that such hawkishness always leaves extremism in its wake, how can we be certain that the more extreme and less disciplined Al-Shabab would put the cap on piracy? I doubt anyone is getting paid sackfuls of millions of dollars without having to pay off some people. The pirates are linked into the arms trade as well, and I think the cash has to be flowing through all groups taking cuts. I don’t think *anyone* gets to act with total impunity, even if this is Puntland.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is this: (1) much of the UIC will not be present in the inevitable Al-Shabab solution, and this younger, angrier group will be less concerned with law and order as they will be with profit and control; and (2) surely anything that replaces the Western-backed warlord status quo – even with austerity and corruption – is a favorable outcome for Somalis.

    I think the world missed a good chance with the UIC to reign in the extreme elements with carefully placed carrots. That, along with Somaliland recognition could have put the country on the road to recovery. But hey, you’ve been there. You know the word on the street better than I.

  2. Mike says:

    I agree. Invading would only cause unnecessary bloodshed, and naval patrols are a better idea.

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