The International Maritime Bureau published a report detailing the decreasing amount of Somali piracy incidents. The report details a nearly 40% drop in maritime piracy on the coast, with only 15 incidents occurring in 2013. This is a drastic decrease from the nearly 237 in 2011. The decline has been slowly occurring since 2011.
Why has this been occurring? Many international observers point to a stronger Somali government structure, backed by the African Unions security forces. Somalia has long been plagued with severe poverty and inadequate security measures in recent years, and a growing financial security and the African Unions military efforts to quell the Al-Shabab terrorist network.
Piracy was long seen as the only option for many Somali’s, who viewed piracy as a way to gain fast money to help survive in the harsh wasteland that is Somalia. Puntland, the self-declared independent nation located in Central Somalia has been often described as a pirate paradise. The nation is not internationally recognized, but functions with it’s own government separate from the Transitional Federal Government located in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu. Puntland is notorious for corruption, and many pirates have found a peaceful existence there with a government that more than likely condones it’s actions due to the ineffectiveness to combat it.
The United Nations recently invested millions to build a prison to contain the pirates in the city of Garowe, but international observers question whether Puntland will actively jail these offenders as corruption has run rampant throughout many of the levels of the unofficial government. Somaliland, the other unrecognized state in northern Somalia, is more stable and has taken international support to combat piracy. Many view this as the nations own bid to gain “state-like” status amongst the international community and possibly attain recognized status.
The Transitional Federal Government located in Mogadishu has not been majorly involved in the piracy problem. The region is mostly dealing with Al-Shabab, the international terrorist organization that is attempting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic government. The Ethiopian backed African Union troops have managed to attain military victories against them, but the general anti-Ethiopian feeling amongst the Somali populace is alleged to bolster Al-Shabab’s recruiting efforts. Ethiopia recently ramped up its military involvement in February of 2014, sending in 4395 more troops, bringing the total “peacekeeping forces in Somalia to 22,126.” Al-Shabab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage took advantage of this spike in forces, and has called to action the Somali people to take up arms against the Ethiopians “to defend their country or suffer when it’s too late.
– Joseph Abay