Back those days, I mean really old days; being a Pirate was an exiting way of life. The adventure, the thrill of venturing into the unknown seas, looting, killing, women and most importantly Gold; beckoned many into this profession. But only a few were successful. Some of them are still remembered and have become legends.
It is said that the oldest recorded piracy dates back to1350 BC. Port Royal (Jamaica),
Ile de la Tortue or Tortuga (modern Haiti) and the isle of Madagascar are quite famous as the popular hangouts of pirates. Tortuga more so; because of the movie: “The pirates of the Caribbean.” The success of the movie shows how we all love to be a pirate and lead that enchanted life, away from our boring jobs that are right now being threatened by recession.
However, the Somalian pirates have become the scourge of the nations. We like our pirates only in the movies. In reality, we would love to strap every one of them to torpedoes and send them back to Davy Jones Locker!
These modern pirates attack cargo ships in small boats, launched from a mother vessel nearby. These cargo ships are generally sparsely crewed and most of them do not carry arms, making them sitting ducks. These Somalian pirates, armed with guns, rocket launchers hijack such cargo vessels and dock them at Somalian ports. Hence rescue operations cannot enter the Somalian waters; the pirates rig the cargo vessel with crude bombs and threaten to blow it and kill the crew and the Somalian Government [if there is one] is toothless. The nations and sometimes the companies, to which the cargo vessel and the crew belong, pay a hefty ransom to free their crew and cargo.
When we objectively look at this issue from one side, we see the struggling people of Somali trying all possible means to earn themselves a livelihood. In the absence of a viable economy and the success that others have found in piracy, more people are opting to become a pirate. Working out a ground solution resulting in peace and stability in Somalia can turn out to be an effective solution against not only piracy, but also the civil war that has been ravaging the region.
In the meantime a lot of nations have joined hands to patrol the troubled region with warships, providing a semblance of security to the vessels plying there. Unfortunately, that has been woefully adequate as more warships are needed to patrol millions of square kilometers. There has been little success and the piracy rate has dropped, but that is not enough. The recent attack on a U.S. vessel proved just that.
While digging information, I came across an interesting piece of information regarding the U.S. USA had turned to pirates to help thwart Britain when the country had declared its independence. The vicious circle has come full as the U.S. is now bristling with anger at the brazenness of the attack by pirates against its vessel. I couldn’t help notice another issue that currently involves the U.S. The CIA and ISI had provided arms to Afghans in the 80’s helping them resist the Soviet invasion. Now the Americans are leading the fight against the very same people that it had supported decades ago.
As usual we wait for the U.S. to decide that enough is enough and take stringent measures against these pirates. In the meantime, piracy as a profession is quite tempting, at least to the Somalians.