Sink Immediately

BERLIN/EYL | | somalia

BERLIN/EYL (Own report) - Berlin announced its decision to fire upon and sink pirate ships off the Horn of Africa. As the interior policy spokesperson of the conservative parliamentary group in the German Bundestag announced, in the case of attack, ships "must be immediately sunk on the high seas." The deployment of special commandos of the German federal police and military is in preparation. The German government has decided to "'take off the gloves' in the war on piracy". Until now, Berlin had considered sinking ships, inconvenient due to the danger of sinking fishing ships by mistake. While the naval mission is becoming more brutal, the extension of military intervention to the Somali mainland is also discussed this week. As the German Bundeswehr is extending its radius of operations, business representatives are saying that the threat to world trade posed by piracy is being exaggerated to the public. The cause of the buccaneering off the coast of Somalia is basically ignored: the West's induced deterioration in countries that elude western control.

By All Means Necessary

The interior policy spokesperson for the conservative CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Hans-Peter Uhl (CSU) declared that pirates "will be strenuously fought with all the military and police means (...) necessary."[1] This was decided by the German government. "In dealing with pirate attacks, there can only be one applicable answer," according to Uhl: "the ships of the pirates must be immediately sunk on the high seas." Until now, Berlin has shown reluctance in relation to this sort of demand. The first ship that was sunk - by the Indian Navy - during this international fleet invasion off the Horn of Africa, had been a fishing boat. At least 14 innocent civilians were killed in the incident. Uhl further explained that the deployment of special commandos of the federal police (GSG 9) or the German military (KSK) is being considered. The deployment of similar units from France and the USA has resulted in several deaths over the past few days.

Signal of Power

In fact, according to reports, Berlin had already sent a GSG 9 advance unit to the Somali coastal region back in the beginning of April.[2] The plan to rescue the crew of the hijacked "Hansa Stavanger" by overpowering the pirates, was foiled only by the rapidity of the pirates, who had taken their hostages on land before the German elite unit arrived. Subsequently government circles announced that special troops will possibly be stationed in Djibouti or Kenya (Mombasa), to intervene more rapidly, if necessary. Plans for intervening are not exclusively aimed at fighting pirates, but rather seek to meet the demands of the interior ministry. Already last year the ministry announced that in the case of kidnappers, generally a "signal of power" must be given.[3] A deployment to this effect appears to be drawing closer in Somalia. A conference has been announced for this Thursday in Brussels that will discuss the situation in Somalia, as well as operations to be carried out by western troops on the Somali mainland.

Bearable

Whereas Berlin is intensifying the military activity, at the strategically important maritime trade route off the Horn of Africa, business representatives are explaining that the significance of the piracy in that area is being grossly exaggerated in the public. Overall "only very few ships" have been hijacked. Even the rise in the costs of insurance by approx. 100,000 Euros pro Suez Canal passage is "bearable for a billion Euro enterprise," explained the spokesperson for the German Ship Owners' Association (VDR). The transit charges for a Suez Canal passage are already a multiple of that price (around 600,000 Euros). "The piracy will not ruin a single ship owner" says the VDR spokesperson [4] - an opinion that strongly relativizes the alleged reason for the naval build-up. Berlin's government advisors agree that, in any case, given already the size of the area of ocean to be covered, piracy off the Horn of Africa can be reined in not with military, but, at best, with political means.

Repressive Partner

Concentrating on justifying the build-up of their naval presence along the world's most significant maritime trade route, the West is obviously not interested. The developments years ago that led to the rise of piracy off the shores of the Horn of Africa, remain largely ignored, the most important being Somalia's collapse in 1991. For a long time - despite his heavy repression and his attempts to shore up his rule by stirring up rivalries between the various Somali clans - the Said Barre regime was supported by the West, as an ally in the confrontation of systems. With the demise of the socialist block, the West lost interest in Somalia and dropped Barre. Bonn's partner's [5] fateful domestic policy bore its fruit. Somalia collapsed into areas controlled by rival clans, also causing the deterioration of coastal protection. Somali fishermen were helpless against the fleets of foreign fishing ships that invaded the undefended Somali territorial waters, fishing them clean and thereby destroying the population's means of livelihood.

Breeding Ground

The subsequent development was described last week in a British daily.[6] Piracy began among former fishermen already in the 1990s, until, around the turn of the century, regional officials attempted to set up a coast guard, bringing modern maritime technology and the corresponding knowledge into the country. This attempt was a failure, technology and know-how remained - and was then applied to hijack foreign ships to provide a livelihood at a higher standard than in the 1990s. A short interruption in piracy came in 2006, when, with the step-by-step formation of a government, piracy was prohibited. This nascent government was declared unreliable by the West and immediately overthrown with the help of Ethiopian troops.[7] Civil war and starvation have reigned since at the highest levels, forming a breeding ground for piracy - created under active western intervention.

[1] Unionsexperte: Bundesregierung schlägt härteren Kurs gegen somalische Piraten ein; www.neue-oz.de 17.04.2009
[2] GSG 9 sollte entführte "Hansa Stavanger" stürmen; Spiegel Online 09.04.2009
[3] see also Signal der Stärke
[4] Bomben auf Piratennester; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 17.04.2009
[5] see also Sehr gut
[6] "I'm not a pirate, I'm the saviour of the sea"; The Times 16.04.2009
[7] see also Interests of the Superpowers, Adequate persistence and Stabilizing Factor