It’s Pirate Season

Off the coast of East Africa, the end of monsoon season means it’s the beginning of pirate season.

With 25 ships already under pirate control, there are clear signs that piracy will again thrive this year off the coasts of Somalia and Kenya.  But unlike in the past, piracy is beginning to mix with politics.

Previously, pirates were primarily motivated by their personal financial interests.  Now, groups like the Shabab – an increasingly powerful and violent Islamic extremist group– have begun to sponsor piracy and use the ransoms to bolster their militias and weapons caches.

In turn, Somalia’s increasingly unstable – and U.S. backed – central government has aligned itself with competing pirate groups.  In the hopes of repelling the Shabab, the central government has seemingly turned a blind eye to piracy.  Additionally the government has relinquished law enforcement obligations to these pirate groups, who have also compiled significant weapons stockpiles.

What action should the international community take?  And what legal right does the international community have to intervene?

The United States has a significant interest in keeping the Shabab – who support al Qaeda – from gaining traction in Somalia.  But can the United States, or any other country who has been victimized by piracy, continue to support a government that accepts and encourages this criminal behavior?


  1. The Suez Canal might be one of the most important waterways in the world. Its position as the primary corridor connecting the markets of India and China to those of Europe and North America makes it a prime target for piracy and terrorism. The increase in piracy over the past few years and the boldness of their actions has forced the area to be under constant U.S. Military surveillance. Somalia has become a safe haven for piracy and if the government cannot reverse this trend, then the major military powers have an obligation to do it for them.

  2. The Suez canal is major for international trade and therefore cannot be ignored when piracy has taken over to this extreme. A develpoing nation like Somalia with an unstable poltical and economic regime, will not fight back because of it’s vulnerable position. Since the increase in piracy is now politically motivated at least partially, the U.S. and other global powers have a duty to step in and put an end to the canal takover.

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