"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

10.29.2009

dream the impossible dream

Just call him Somalia's Don Quixote:
Somalia's prime minister has said his government will eradicate piracy off its coast within the next two years.

On a visit to the UK, Omar Sharmarke told the BBC that his war-torn country lacked enough resources to tackle the problem but was seeking help abroad.

Analysts say to date the government has had minimal influence on the fate of those kidnapped by pirates, who tend to be released unharmed for hefty ransoms.
Oh, Somali government. Always the optimist, never the functioning state. Who is Sharmarke kidding? (Or perhaps the more appropriate question is: from whom does he think he can get more weapons?)

The vast majority of Somali pirate activity is based out of Puntland. Puntland is in no effective sense part of the Somali state anymore; only on the map is it under Mogadishu's control. While it's by no means a strong state, Puntland has its own government, president, and laws. The idea that the government in Mogadishu can do anything there is laughable. But Sharmarke isn't bothered by details like "needing a real army" and "securing the borders" or other nonsense like that:
Mr Sharmarke rejected the suggestion that as his transitional government has limited reach across Somalia, it is powerless to tackle piracy.

He said he would eradicate piracy through a civil affairs and information campaign, backed by military force.

"We're not powerless but the capacity to handle this issue is not all there. And that's why we're seeking assistance and investors.

"We have to understand that the cost of doing nothing is far greater than the cost of doing something."

Given that the government only controls a few districts of the capital, Mogadishu, it is difficult to imagine how it will deal with the pirates, who operate in areas outside government control, reports the BBC's Mary Harper.

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