29th August 2010
As career officers will tell you, drive, determination, and a willingness to try something new are the key requirements in a competitive world. This lesson has certainly been taken to heart by the Somali fishermen who, armed with Kalashnikovs and RPGs, have made a career switch to piracy.
As a result of their activities, insurance premiums have shot up. Many shipping companies avoid the Suez Canal and now send their vessels around the Horn of Africa, which adds to fuel costs. Others hire private security firms to go with their ships. A multinational force patrols the Gulf of Aden. But on several occasions, when patrol ships have captured pirates, they have had to release them again because no one wants to prosecute them, as they are likely to be stuck with them, once they have served their time (Somalia is regarded as too dangerous a place to which to repatriate them). This, in the words of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, “sends the wrong signal.” As a result of American pressure, in the first piracy case to come to trial in Europe, a Dutch court in June sentenced five Somali pirates to five years in jail, which shipping analysts see as unlikely to deter future attacks. Predictably, the pirates have asked for asylum and to have their families sent over upon their release. More sensible efforts to set up regional courts to prosecute captured pirates are ongoing.
The economies of the city-states of Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and Sale in Morocco were all built on privateering and slave labor, and all owed allegiance to Istanbul as outposts of the Ottoman Empire.
And, needless to say, all were Muslims. But that’s no surprise – Islam has never, ever had a problem either with slavery or with robbing unbelievers. Mohammed himself indulged in both activities, and Muslims regard him as the Perfect Man. (Bit of cognitive dissonance for black people who choke on George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as slave-owners but embrace Islam … or would be, if they gave it any thought. Not to mention the Muslims running the West African slave trade.)