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

11.19.2009

arrrrghn't you glad it's thursday

It's been a big week in Somali piracy. A few of the latest events:
  • Wednesday, the Maersk Alabama was attacked again. This time, private security guards repelled the attack. As Roger Middleton of Chatham House notes in the article, private security is really the only sensible way for shipping companies to assure the safety of their cargo and crews these days.
  • Tuesday, 36 crew members of the Alakrana, a Spanish tuna boat, were set free, apparently on the payment of a three million dollar-plus ransom. It sounds from news reports as though the Spanish government paid the ransom. Daniel Sekulich has some thoughts on the implications of that decision.
  • The captain of a ship seized near the Seychelles died on Tuesday, apparently from wounds suffered during the takeover of his ship. Hostage deaths are highly unusual for the pirates for a very simple reason: dead hostages aren't worth as much ransom money as living ones. That gives us good reason to believe that the pirates didn't simply execute him and that their claim that he was wounded in the attack is probably correct.
I'll be giving our paper on Somali pirate organizations and their relationship to local governance structures at the African Studies Association meeting this weekend. It's still in very rough form, but we're hoping to get good feedback as we move this paper forward. If any of you will be there, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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