Multi-billion-dollar warships, Navy SEAL snipers, Marine assault teams, mercenaries, Reaper drones, sonic beam guns and even improvised firebombs hurled by desperate fishermen: the world has tried everything short of a full-scale invasion to beat Somali pirates. The newest idea is a local pirate-fighting militia. But it’s doubtful that this tactic will be much more successful than the last half-dozen.
Informed observers say that you’ll never stop Somali piracy by fighting it at sea. Permanently ending a decade-long surge in hijacking off the Somali coast requires “something happening on land,” according to Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments analyst Martin Murphy, where pirates are based amid the ruins of civil war.
That’s why the U.S. and U.N. both expressed cautious optimism when the Puntland region of northern Somalia announced it was standing up a 1,050-strong anti-pirate militia, funded by an unnamed donor nation — not the U.S. — and led in part by former U.S. government officials.