Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Somali Pirates Threaten Retaliation

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Somali piratesThe resistance put up by the American crew of the Maersk Alabama and the dramatic Easter Sunday rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, of Underhill, Vermont, who had been held by Somali pirates since April 8, may cause pirates to think twice about targeting Americans. But some Somali pirates are threatening retaliation for the U.S. military action that resulted in three pirates being killed and one taken captive.

"Every country will be treated the way it treats us," Abdullahi Lami, one of the pirates holding a Greek ship in the central Somali port of Gaan, told the Associated Press. "In the future, America will be the one mourning and crying. We will retaliate for the killings of our men."

"After the action they took yesterday, we will respond with action," Hassan Yare, a pirate in the Somali city of Garad, told Time magazine. "We're warning the owners of the other ships that if they try to attack, we will kill the crews and burn their ships."

The rescue of Captain Phillips by Navy SEAL snipers followed hours after the rescue by French commandos of four French tourists, including a child, held by Somali pirates aboard a yacht in the Gulf of Aden. The French rescue ended more tragically than the American operation, however, with the yacht’s owner/captain Florent Lemacon being killed in the process. It is unknown at this time whether he was executed by the pirates or killed inadvertently by friendly fire from the commandos. Two of the pirates holding the French hostages were killed and three pirates were taken captive.

In both the American and French cases, the lethal force option was exercised after days of fruitless negotiations with the pirates to release the hostages. Also, in both cases, naval vessels had been forced to take actions to keep the pirates from taking Capt. Phillips and the French captives ashore. Finally, the decision was made in both cases to “take out” the pirates when there appeared to be an imminent danger of loss of life of one or more hostage.

The Somali pirates, who have been able to act with impunity for years in the waters off of their failed state, have not let up their criminal depredations in the face of these two recent setbacks. On Monday, April 14, the day after Capt. Phillips’ rescue, pirates seized two Egyptian fishing vessels with crews totaling 18 to 24 members. The following day pirates in the Gulf of Aden seized a 35,000-ton Greek-owned bulk carrier and a 5,000-ton Lebanese-owned vessel. The number of hostages on the four ships totals more than 60, according to news reports. According to the International Maritime Bureau, Somali pirates have attacked 78 ships this year, capturing 19 of them, and about 17 ships with more than 300 crew still remain in pirates' hands.

"Our latest hijackings were meant to show that no one can deter us from protecting our waters from the enemy because we believe in dying for our land," Omar Dahir Idle, a pirate based in the coastal town of Harardhere, told The Associated Press by telephone. "The recent American operation, French navy attack on our colleagues or any other operation mean nothing to us."

According to news reports, editorials, and opinion polls, President Obama has benefited politically from the success of Captain Phillips' rescue. But what is the president likely to prescribe for dealing with the ongoing problem of piracy in the Gulf of Aden region? "I want to be very clear that we are resolved to halt the rise of piracy in that region and to achieve that goal, we're going to have to continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks," Obama told reporters on April 13.

That would seem to point in the direction of multilateral approaches aimed at empowering the United Nations.

The LOST “Solution”

More precisely, it points toward the UN Law of the Sea Treaty, the solution favored by our globalist-minded policy elites. As we noted in our previous posting, if you haven’t already heard of the LOST prescription for piracy, you soon will. Ratification of the UN Law Of the Sea Treaty (LOST, also called UNCLOS, for UN Convention on the Law Of the Sea) is a “top priority” for the new Obama administration, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The push for ratifying LOST heretofore has relied largely on environmental propaganda: LOST is “essential” for global cooperation to save the whales, the seals, the polar bears, the penguins, the plankton, the icebergs … (pick the endangered critter or object de jour). However, the age-old scourge of piracy has always been a back-up argument. Articles 100-107 and Article 110 of the UN Law of the Sea Treaty deal with piracy.

The administration of George W. Bush broke with past Republican opposition to LOST and strongly endorsed the convention, which would dangerously undermine national sovereignty and transfer vast new powers to the UN to control and/or regulate virtually all human activity on, over, or under the oceans, including the seabed, coastal areas, and inland waterways (rivers, streams, and lakes) that empty into the oceans.

Shortly before leaving office, the Bush State Department issued statements supporting UN peacekeeping and LOST as a remedies for the Somali pirate problem. In a December 17, 2008 “Fact Sheet” entitled “United States Actions on Somalia Piracy,” the Bush State Department declared:

The United States remains deeply concerned by the continuing threat of piracy in the Horn of Africa and its impact on commercial shipping … and overall stability in the region…. The United States believes that a proper United Nations supported peacekeeping mission is necessary to combat piracy in the Horn of Africa.

The document goes on to say:

The United States, along with the international community, continues to use the legal framework provided by international treaties for addressing piracy. The UN Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) gives authorities the power to arrest or deter pirates on the high seas.

And, furthermore:

The United States recognizes piracy is a symptom of the lack of stability, security, economic development, and rule of law on the ground. Addressing these deficits in Somalia. Therefore, the United States recognizes the need for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation.

Then, on January 14, one week before handing over the reins of government to the new Obama administration, the Bush State Department issued a new fact sheet stating:

Pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1851, the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) was established on January 14, 2009 to facilitate discussion and coordination of actions among states and organizations to suppress piracy off the coast of Somalia. The CGPCS will report its progress periodically to the UN Security Council.

The Contact Group notes “with deep concern that piracy off the coast of Somalia grew significantly in 2008, and that attacks on shipping vessels can be expected to increase without enhanced international efforts.”

So, what will this UN Contact Group, of which the United States is a member, do about Somali piracy? Again, the State Department informs us:

As an international cooperation mechanism created pursuant to Security Council resolution 1851 to act as a point of contact between and among states, regional and international organizations on aspects of combating piracy and armed robbery at sea off Somalia’s coast, the CGPCS will inform the UN Security Council on a regular basis of the progress of its activities, including through providing relevant information to the UN Secretary General for possible incorporation into his periodic reports to the Council.

But here’s where it gets to the crux of the matter:

The CGPCS calls on state parties to implement their obligations under relevant treaties and applicable international law, including in particular the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea with respect to suppressing piracy.... [Emphasis added.]

How will LOST assist in “suppressing piracy.” It won’t. In fact, it will cripple any effective U.S. action by binding us down with “international law” — as defined and interpreted by anti-American forces in the UN and their allies in our media and our government.

Article 110 of LOST, for instance, states: “The right of hot pursuit ceases as soon as the ship pursued enters the territorial sea of its own State or of a third State.”

So, if the pirates slip their speedboats into the territorial waters of Somalia, Kenya, or Ethiopia, they’re home free. Their pirate bases are likewise protected.

Luckily, the infant U.S. republic was not burdened with the UN or LOST when the Barbary Pirates were the scourge of the Mediterranean.  The great European sea powers — Britain, France, Spain, Holland, Portugal — paid tribute to the murderous brigands and slavers of Tripoli. So did America, until our new nation finally said, “Enough!” — and built its own navy and sent a force to deal with the villains. The intrepid exploits of Commodore Edward Prebel, Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, Consul William Eaton, Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon, and Captain William Bainbridge are legendary. Against incredible odds, and against difficulties far greater than those we face today from the Somali pirates, they triumphed — without sacrificing U.S. sovereignty and independence of action to a global authority.

Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, the most eminent naval hero of the time, praised Decatur’s raid on Tripoli "the most bold and daring act of the age."

Pope Pius VII effusively praised Preble's attacks on the pirates, saying the American offensive "had done more for the cause of Christianity than the most powerful nations of Christendom have done for ages."

The inspiring story of America’s earliest experience in dealing with piracy on the high seas is brilliantly told by Thomas Jewett, in an online article entitled, “Terrorism In Early America: The U.S. Wages War Against the Barbary States to End International Blackmail and Terrorism.”  The present generation of Americans should read this stirring and instructive chronicle of the good sense and heroism of our forebears in dealing with international criminals. The captain and crew of the Maersk Alabama appear to be imbued with some of the same sense and courage; they didn’t wait for a UN resolution or a LOST tribunal to tell them that it was OK to resist their captors. We need some of that good sense and courage in the halls of Congress, in the White House, and the State Department.

Photo: AP Images

Related articles from The New American:

LOST: Law of the Sea Treaty

Who Wants the U.S. to Get LOST?