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Bloggingheads 11-30-2008 07:12 PM

UN Plaza: Pirates and Peacekeepers

Baltimoron 11-30-2008 08:21 PM

Re: UN Plaza: Pirates and Peacekeepers
That the pirates are linked to the Islamist and al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab hangs on a thin reed. According to The Economist:


What has made the pirates’ audacity possible is the collapse of Somalia. The existence of a vast ungoverned space in Africa’s Horn does not just provide a useful haven from which pirates can hunt their prey at sea. It also threatens to transmit shockwaves through a seam of fragile and strife-torn African states from Sudan to the Congo.

How did this happen, and how can it be resolved? The first question is the easier to answer. About 50,000 peacekeepers are currently deployed under United Nations or African Union auspices in east and central Africa in an effort to dampen down various conflicts. In Somalia in 2006, however, the Bush administration tried something different: war by proxy. It gave a green light for Ethiopia to invade Somalia. The plan was for Ethiopia to squash an Islamist movement and reinstate a Somali government that had lost control of most of its territory.

Two years on, the plan has backfired. Abdullahi Ahmed, Somalia’s increasingly notional president, admitted on November 15th that a variety of Islamist insurgents once again dominate most of the country, leaving only two cities, Mogadishu and Baidoa, in the hands of his increasingly notional government. Neither Ethiopia nor the African Union ever sent enough soldiers to impose order. Worse, the strongest of the insurgent groups, the Shabab, is even more radical than the Islamic Courts movement which the Americans and Ethiopians originally took on. It is suspected of being linked by money to the pirates (who hand over a slice of the ransom in return for protection) and by ideology to al-Qaeda.

So how to resolve the issue? It is not enough just to send more gunboats. Although an Indian warship sunk an alleged pirate vessel this week, and a bigger naval effort could help to keep the sea-lanes a little safer, a long-term solution demands much more. This includes establishing stability inside Somalia itself, depriving the pirates of a sanctuary, and preventing the jihad-tinted anarchy there from spilling over Somalia’s borders. But since there are no serious military forces available to defeat the insurgents, a proper answer will entail reshaping the country’s politics and stepping up attempts to woo the more biddable Islamists—if there are enough left and a deal with them is still possible.
A Reuters report reduces the link almost to a straw man:


The Islamists have been fighting the government and its Ethiopian allies for about two years. They launch near-daily guerrilla strikes in the capital and control most of the south, including a town just nine miles from Mogadishu.

Islamist leaders deny allegations they collude with pirates and insist they will stamp down on them if they win power, citing a crackdown when they ruled the south briefly in 2006.

Some analysts, however, say Islamist militants are benefiting from the spoils of piracy and arms shipments facilitated by the sea gangs. Analysts also accuse government figures of collaboration with pirates.

The elder in Haradheere port told Reuters the Islamists arrived wanting to find out immediately about the Sirius Star, which was captured on Saturday about 450 nautical miles off Kenya in the pirates' furthest strike to date.

"The Islamists arrived searching for the pirates and the whereabouts of the Saudi ship," said the elder, who declined to be named. "I saw four cars full of Islamists driving in the town from corner to corner. The Islamists say they will attack the pirates for hijacking a Muslim ship."

uncle ebeneezer 11-30-2008 09:22 PM

Re: UN Plaza: Pirates and Peacekeepers
Another great UN episode. I especially enjoyed the pirate discussion. I hope somebody can track down the Ethiopia '08 bootleg tape, at some point.

I was surprised at how serious Matt Lee's concerns are over Obama's finance team. I'd love to hear him do a diavlog on that with Dean Baker or Bob Reich etc., or any other knowledgable economist.

bjkeefe 11-30-2008 11:13 PM

Re: UN Plaza: Pirates and Peacekeepers
Freudian slip?

If this is what you're worried about, Mark, relax. You guys aren't divas. A little weak on pronunciation, perhaps. Of about the most important word you can utter on this site, admittedly. But divas? No.


Added: the rest of the di a vlog was good, though.

threep 12-01-2008 02:37 PM

Re: UN Plaza: Pirates and Peacekeepers
Maybe it's wrong, but god I love watching Mark uncomfortably have to play the right-winger.

Wonderment 12-01-2008 08:37 PM

Let's do drugs!
Matt is asking the right question about the Obama administration: will there be substantive change?

I'm cautiously optimistic that Obama represents a paradigm shift in thinking about global problems and the peacekeeping (in the broadest sense of the word) mission of the UN.

We'll see.

One area in which the US has been impervious to real global solutions is drugs. In an era of focus on terrorism and climate change, drugs tends to slip off the media radar unless Afghanistan-related.

I'd love to see a UN Plaza program on the global challenges of a rational 21st century drug policy.

The Brookings Institution released a report last week, co-chaired by former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, that looks at how and why the War on Drugs has failed so abysmally in Latin America, particularly in Mexico. (Four thousand Mexicans have died so far this year in the narco wars. )

A good summary of the Brookings report can be found here. The basic point is that if the US continues to fail to address the consumption side of the equation and continues to export guns southward, the "problem will never be resolved."

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee 12-02-2008 11:05 AM

Re: UN Plaza: Pirates and Peacekeepers
Agreed Agreed Agreed. Can we please please have Mr. Lee discuss the financial crisis issues at length with another knowledgeable participant instead of just stealing a tantalizing observation or two on UN Plaza?


Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer (Post 98311)
Another great UN episode. I especially enjoyed the pirate discussion. I hope somebody can track down the Ethiopia '08 bootleg tape, at some point.

I was surprised at how serious Matt Lee's concerns are over Obama's finance team. I'd love to hear him do a diavlog on that with Dean Baker or Bob Reich etc., or any other knowledgable economist.

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