Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Buccaneers In Somali Waters - They're Not Somalis

Buccaneers In Somali Waters - But They're Not Somalis


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford,
Black Agenda Report

To listen to this commentary.

For a downloadable MP3 copy of this commentary, visit the BA Radio archive page.

"Foreign ‘fish pirates' plunder Somali waters from about 700 vessels - an armada of commercial buccaneers."

So far this year, at least two dozen vessels have been boarded and seized by armed men off the coast of Somalia, the latest a Saudi Arabian supertanker capable of carrying two million barrels of oil. I'm avoiding using the term "pirates" because there is lots of piracy going on in Somali waters, most of it committed, not by Somalis, but by foreigners from around the globe. The northeast African nation, with 2,000 miles of coastline, once boasted some of the richest fisheries in the world, swarming with tuna, lobster, shark, shrimp and whitefish. But there has been no effective government in Somalia since 1991 and, therefore, no Somali coast guard to protect the fishing grounds from marauding foreign vessels. How much damage has been done by over fishing is unknown - foreigners sail into the fisheries as if they own them, and take what they wish.

Webster's Dictionary defines piracy as "robbery on the high seas." By that definition, Somalia is the victim of pirates from all over the world. According to the United Nations, these foreign "fish pirates" plunder Somali waters from about 700 vessels - an armada of commercial buccaneers.

Before Somalia descended into chaos, 30,000 fishermen made their livings from the sea. But they can't compete with the modern, foreign vessels, and there is no one to keep the commercial fish pirates out.

Some foreign fishing interests make their own deals, purchasing fishing "licenses" from warlords purporting to represent authority on behalf of Somalia. That's very much like the "diplomacy" practiced by white settlers in the colonial and early United States, when they made "treaties" with bogus Indian "chiefs" who signed away Native American land for trinkets and liquor.

"The American fleet does little to interfere with the illegal dumping of radioactive waste in Somali waters."

Local and clan militias have replaced national authority in Somalia, which is partially occupied by the Ethiopian military. The Ethiopian invasion and occupation, instigated by the United States in late 2006, has displaced millions, many of whom face starvation. The coastal fishermen are also members of militias. Western media call them pirates, but as one armed sailor told the New York Times: "Think of us like a coast guard."

Somebody needs to guard Somali's water resources, but it certainly isn't the Americans. The U.S. Fifth Fleet, of the U.S. Navy's Central Command, patrols the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean - Somalia's neighborhood. It also bombs Somalis that resist the Ethiopian occupation and targets people the U.S. claims have ties to Al Qaida. But the American fleet does little to interfere with the illegal dumping of radioactive waste in Somali waters or any other crimes against the environment and Somalia's national treasure and sovereignty.

When it comes to piracy, Somalis are on balance the victims rather than the perpetrators. It is estimated that foreigners poach $300 million from Somali fisheries each year. Somalia's armed sailors extort about one-third that amount - $100 million - from the owners of captured ships. So, who are the real pirates?

The United States helped Ethiopia hijack the entire Somali nation: an international crime against peace. Uncle Sam is the biggest pirate of them all.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford.

*************

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 


Dunne Speaks: Robertson's Budget Gamble On Treasury
The popular test of the success or failure of Grant Robertson’s fifth Budget will be its impact on the soaring cost of living. In today’s climate little else matters. Because governments come and governments go – about every six to seven years on average since 1945 – getting too focused on their long-term fiscal aspirations is often pointless... More>>

Keith Rankin: Liberal Democracy In The New Neonationalist Era: The Three 'O's
The proposed ‘New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme’ (‘the scheme’) has attracted strong debate among the more left-wing and liberal groupings, within New Zealand-Aotearoa. This debate should be seen as a positive rather than negative tension because of the opportunity to consider and learn from the implications and sharpen advocacy... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Words Matter, Prime Minister
Words matter, especially when uttered by politicians. History is littered with examples of careless or injudicious words uttered by politicians coming back to haunt them, often at the most awkward of times. During the 1987 election campaign, when electoral reform was a hot issue, Prime Minister David Lange promised to have a referendum on the electoral system... More>>


Digitl: Infrastructure Commission wants digital strategy
Earlier this month Te Waihanga, New Zealand’s infrastructure commission, tabled its first Infrastructure Strategy: Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa. Te Waihanga describes its document as a road map for a thriving New Zealand... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Leaking For Roe V Wade
The US Supreme Court Chief Justice was furious. For the first time in history, the raw judicial process of one of the most powerful, and opaque arms of government, had been exposed via media – at least in preliminary form. It resembled, in no negligible way, the publication by WikiLeaks of various drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership... More>>




The Conversation: Cheaper food comes with other costs – why cutting GST isn't the answer

As New Zealand considers the removal of the goods and services tax (GST) from food to reduce costs for low income households, advocates need to consider the impact cheap food has on the environment and whether there are better options to help struggling families... More>>