The United Nations Security Council has authorized countries
fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia
to pursue the pirates on land. The 15-member council unanimously approved the U.S.-sponsored resolution yesterday.
The measure also
allows countries to enter Somali
airspace to hunt down pirates. But it stipulates that nations must first get
permission from the country's
transitional federal government [TFG] before taking any action inside Somali territory.
The resolution was
passed at a high-profile meeting of the Security Council. Also attending were U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian
foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and British foreign secretary David Miliband.
Rice said the
resolution will have a significant impact in the fight against piracy. She said
it is not possible to contain piracy with only maritime policies.
Ambassador David Shinn once served as the State Department Deputy Task Force Director for Somalia. He also
served as an ambassador to Ethiopia
and is now an adjunct professor of international affairs at George Washington university
in Washington, D.C. He
doubts the effectiveness of the resolution.
problem with piracy," he says, "is you can not control it until you have a
functional government in Somalia
that controls the country and the coast line [The Transitional Federal Government does
not]. So, the idea of trying to deal with the problem with a large naval
presence in the Indian Ocean or permitting members of the U.N. to go on land in hot pursuit of
pirates may have some impact on the margins but will not change the ultimate
challenge – that will remain."
says it plans to withdraw its troops soon from the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Some speculate that could mean a return of the Islamic-led government that
preceded the transitional government.
According to Ambassador Shinn, "The
Islamists will tell you when they were last in power in 2006 that they did
clamp down on piracy, and will do so again. But it appears that virtually
everyone in authority in Somalia is getting a lot of money from piracy ransom
money, estimated at being 120 million dollars last year, some of which even
goes to members of families that are associated with the TFG [Transitional
Federal Government]. When you have this much money circulating, there is a very
big temptation to let it continue to flow. So, it's not clear if the Islamists
would clamp down on it."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said it is time to consider an African
Union request to send a U.N. peacekeeping mission to Somalia. She said the root
cause of the piracy problem is the instability in Somalia. But Ambassador Shinn
"The United States," he says, "has been requesting a peacekeeping
force for about a year now and the U.N. is not about to authorize it because
there has been no interest shown by member nations. No nation has agreed to
take the lead in such an operation. The African Union is not capable of setting
up a large, well-financed force with adequate heavy equipment to conduct any
peace making operation in Mogadishu. If you had a massive U.N. peacekeeping
force with the idea of making peace, it might be able to do that, but it is not
realistic to expect that to happen."
He says any force would need to be a peace-making
one, which he says "means going in to Somalia with a Chapter 7 mandate and not
only being able but willing to impose force over dissident Somalia parties.
That is where I think the international community is stumbling; they are not
willing to do that."
says that in an effort to be even-handed, the international community should be
concerned not only about piracy in Somalia, but also about complaints many
Somalis have about the outside world. He says, "While everyone is talking about
stopping piracy, no one is saying anything about the illegal fishing and the
[alleged] dumping of toxic waste along the coast, which does not affect the
West or Asia, but the Somalis. [The international community] ought to talk
about ending those practices too. That means the Western and Asian countries
taking it upon themselves about stopping this activity."