Monday, October 06, 2008

The Pirates of Somalia: Hostages get to make an appearance

I wouldn't do well as a hostage, I don't think.

US Says crew on hijacked ship off Somalia appear okay.

The remaining crew appeared fine in a photograph taken Friday, when the pirates granted a request by the U.S. Navy to have the crew step out onto the deck. The picture, released by the Navy, shows the men, mostly expressionless, with gunmen nearby. The crew of Ukrainians, Latvians and Russians are leaning against the railing of the ship but not looking directly at the camera.

The Kenyan Parliament has called a crisis meeting to get to the bottom of the arms shipment found on the MV Faina. Was it intended for Kenya or was it part of an illegal arms shipment to the Sudan as alleged by Andrew Mwangura and the US Navy. They better be having a meeting, 'cause Kenya's got some splaining to do...

"... questions over the transparency of the Kenyan government about its arms purchases have been further raised by a report released Friday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks the international movement of arms. The author of the report, Paul Holtom, tells VOA that in recent days, Ukraine filed with the U.N. Register of Conventional Arms as having exported 40,000 automatic rifles, sub-machine guns and over 400 grenade launchers to Kenya in 2007. China reported that it, too, had sent 32 armored vehicles to Kenya last year.

But Holtom says the Kenyan government has told the United Nations that it has not imported any arms at all in the past year."

Meanwhile Andrew Mwangura remains in Kenyan custody and it looks like Reporters Without Borders have begun to champion his cause and call for his release. But according to Iran Press (consider the source) the ship owner's are accusing him of connivance and collusion. Looks like Andrew's got some splaining to do as well.

Looks like the pirate business continues to be brisk these days...Pirates hit 6 more ships off Somalia this week.

"Pirates have attacked six more vessels off the coast of Somalia in just the past week, according to data fro NATO. ... And international tensions are ratcheting up by the day. The latest attacks brings the total number of "piracy-related incidents" in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast to 93. A dozen vessels are currently being held for ransom -- their last known whereabouts are on the NATO slide, above. "Larger cargo/oil/gas/chemical tankers" are now the pirates' favorite target."

The Sri Lankan captain of the Great Creation, a Chinese vessel kidnapped on September17th, made contact with its Hong Kong shipping company today. Negotiations continue and a ransom is expected to be paid for the ships release. Hey China, how about lending the world a hand and not supporting Islamic terrorists for once?

The Baltic states check in on the situation.
Latvia - No. But it is working with the Ukraniacs to free the Latvian citizen being held on the FAINA. Estonia - Yes. BUT because of limited resources it won't be able to provide ships or personnel for the mission. Lithuania applauds the effort BUT is not prepared to send troops. There you go.

Meanwhile, the Nuestrashimy has reportedly passed through the Strait of Gibraltar, where it is currently "replenishing it's reserves." Can't find out where. Perhaps here?

Stratfor has a great piece up on Russia and Somalia. Does the deployment of the Neustrashimy to Somalia mean the Russians are looking to get involved in Africa again? And what does that mean to the US and the war on terror in the region>

"...the strategic issue is that the Russians are involving themselves once again in the Horn of Africa. They had been involved there during the Cold War, and they are returning — on a very small scale for now. The Horn of Africa is critical to U.S. counterterrorism efforts; the region is watched through Africa Command, headquartered in Germany, and Djibouti hosts the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

This follows the pattern Russia established with Venezuela: recruiting allies whose interests diverge from those of the United States. The primary function at this point is to irritate Washington, since the primary deployment is naval — and so minimal that it presents no threat to U.S. naval sea-lane control. At the same time, the Somalian announcement that the Russians are welcomed ashore in Somalia opens the possibility of a Russian land base in the region, and the possibility of Russian troops helping to assert government control over Somalian chaos — or at least trying to."