New Somali Government Hails Obama’s Promised Piracy Fight

The new Somali government has expressed delight in President Barack Obama's promise to help fight the escalating piracy problem off the Somali coast. At a Washington news conference, President Obama said he was willing to work with other nations to halt the rise of piracy. President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's government said Obama's promise to help fight piracy comes at a time when the new administration is pleading for help from the international community to help resolve the problem. This came after U.S. Navy Special Forces Sunday freed an American cargo ship's captain and killed his three Somali pirate captors, ending a five-day standoff in a lifeboat. 

Abdirashid Irro Mohammed is the Somali minister for Commerce. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that the piracy problem requires and international solution.

"It is a pleasure for us and we are really happy to receive such kind of response from the United States of America. We do believe that if we get the support for our government, especially for the security forces we can overcome the piracy issue. We do believe now that the piracy issue is an international problem and it needs to have international solution. So, I do believe if we strengthen our security forces we can overcome and we can clean our territorial waters," Mohammed pointed out.

He said resolving Somalia's protracted political problems would go a long way in helping to resolve the piracy problem.

"We also do believe that unless we make peace and security as well as law and order inland we cannot control the water," he said.

Mohammed said the new Somali government is gradually beginning to take full charge of the lawlessness in the country.

"You know this new government was only formed in the last two months and we are still organizing and recruiting our security forces. We have been a failed state for the last 19 years so we cannot overnight be in a perfect position. But we need to organize our security forces like the police the military, the national intelligence and we also need to have our marine forces as well as human intelligence. But we don't have any equipment and we need to have some ships, we need to have helicopters as well as some military equipment. So if we get international support for all those things we can overcome the piracy issues and we can make the waters conducive once again," Mohammed noted.

He said there have been numerous pledges from some countries to help the new government in its effort to resolve the escalating piracy problem off the Somali coast, but so far he said all the countries are yet to live up to their promises.

"We have always been hearing nice words from the international community like Kenya or any other country. They have been making pledges and they have been making some nice statements, but we need to be very practical and this issue is really hurting everybody locally and internationally. This is an international crime and there is need to take measures as soon as possible. So once our forces are equipped we can deal with the situation," he said.

Mohammed said without logistical support the war on piracy would be difficult to fight and even win.

"Unless Somalia gets better security forces, this piracy problem will continue. And really it is a threat to lives and property for the whole international marine activities," Mohammed said.

Meanwhile, President Obama said Monday that his administration will continue to work with partners to prevent future pirate attacks. He also said those who commit acts of piracy should be held accountable for their crimes.

President Obama said the American people also had a reason to be proud of the captain who offered himself up as a hostage to the pirates in an effort to protect the crew of his cargo vessel.

He spoke one day after the dramatic rescue of an American cargo ship captain who had been held hostage by the pirates since last week. Richard Phillips was rescued Sunday after members of an elite Navy unit shot and killed three of his captors. President Obama ordered the military to take action if there was reason to believe Phillips' life was in danger. He said he was pleased with the results, noting the captain's safety was the top concern throughout the crisis.

Meanwhile, the Somali pirates have vowed to avenge the shooting of their comrades, as well as Friday's French military assault to rescue a yacht in which two pirates were killed and three captured.

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