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Where Flow Of 21st-century Maritime Piracy Is Headed: An Insider Explanation

Two billion people live on its coasts. 

Even a modern high-speed ship takes almost five and a half days to reach the coast of Africa or the Middle East. During this period, it is highly unlikely that he will collide with one other ship or notice any form of human activity other than the people on the ship itself.

The situation changes when ships approach the coast of Zanzibar within a thousand miles.  Then, mile after mile, the chances of meeting another ship begin to grow & this is not good.

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To stand on the shores of the Indian Ocean of Zanzibar means to be transported into the past. 

The soft white sand of Zanzibar and its temperate water, turquoise turning into aquamarine, are not inferior to the most picturesque islands of the Caribbean. Everywhere the smell of cloves is saturated with air. Clove trees were planted in Zanzibar in 1818 by the Sultan of Oman seeking to break Indonesia’s monopoly on this most lucrative part of the spice trade. Bright red peppercorns cover field after field of indoor farms.

The east coast of Africa was the site of battles between empires for control of trade. The most successful empire in East African history, perhaps the least known, is the Omani Empire, which since the early 17th century ruled over a swath of territory stretching more than a thousand miles to the north and an equal distance to the south of its base. in Muscat, Oman. In the Arabian Peninsula, the Omanis developed advanced maritime technologies that allowed them to impose their presence and expand the spice and slave trade northward as far as modern Iran, the port of Gwadar in Pakistan, and south through present-day Somalia through Kenya. and Zanzibar (in present-day Tanzania). So significant was the Omani Empire in the 19th century that the personal secretary of the Sultan of Oman, Ahmad bin Naaman Al Kaabi, became the first Arab emissary to visit the United States, sailing from Zanzibar to New York in 1840, where he met with Vice President Richard Mentor Johnson.

In the city centre stands the Palace of Wonders, home of the second Sultan of Zanzibar, with its tall clock tower, best viewed from the rooftop of the nearby Emerson Hotel, a favourite with Western tourists in the early days of Zanzibar. 

Huge mahogany doors with intricate carvings mark the entrances to the city’s most important public buildings. 

Its markets are adorned with kikoyas woven in all colours under the tropical sun, imported goods from India, and cheap plastic and polyester goods imported from China, which now dominate all markets in the Middle East. 

The ruins of Omani fortifications can still be found on the east coast of Zanzibar, from where the dhows, still built to Omani designs, cruise to fisheries in the productive waters of East Africa.

The German East African colony of Tanganyika gained independence in 1961 and joined Zanzibar in 1964 to form the modern nation of Tanzania. 

Since then, peace has reigned here. 

  1. However, it is one of the poorest countries in the world, and for decades it has operated under a socialist government that combines corruption and inefficiency. 
  2. It took the form of democracy in the 1990s, and by the mid-2000s it began to develop economically. 
  3. Its mainland port of Dar es Salaam (House of Peace) is currently the second largest on the east coast of Africa.

But anyone heading in a large container ship past the island of Zanzibar to the port of Dar es Salaam is not focused on Tanzania’s growth. 

Beginning in the mid-2000s, the Zanzibari coastline has once again become famous for its dangers of a different kind. This time, the fishing dhows were not threatened by a distant empire, but by modern pirates threatening ocean liners and container ships.

One of the most serious and serious attacks off the coast of Zanzibari occurred in 2011 when seven pirates in a small boat attacked the exploration vessel Ocean Rig Poseidon, owned by the Brazilian company Petrobras. 

It was part of a major Brazilian joint venture with Tanzania to explore new gas fields in Tanzania’s Indian Ocean territorial waters. 

The attack, which injured several people, was eventually repelled by the ship’s security, and a Tanzanian rescue team was quickly dispatched to the scene 82 nautical miles off the coast of Dar es Salaam. Altogether, specialists captured 18 privateers for assaults in Zanzibari waters that year – all Somali.

The pirates of Malacca may have a long tradition on their side, but today the most sophisticated pirates are the Somalis. 

The cruise this ancient ship on a route that has almost the same reach as the Omani Empire. 

From towns on the Somali coast, often using the ruins of Omani fortresses as their hub, they sail up and down the white-washed shores of Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Yemen and Oman in small outboard dhows. 

Up to the water off the coast of Pakistan. Since 2008, they have carried out thousands of documented attacks.

For Western crowds, the well-known presentation of Somali privateers was in the 2013 film Captain Phillips, in view of a genuine episode. 

On the morning of April 8, 2009, the Maersk Alabama was on its way to Mombasa, Kenya when it was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia. What this team had in mind, which the pirates’ previous targets had not, was that their captain, Richard Phillips, was American. 

For the first time in a century, the United States needed to rescue an American aboard a ship hijacked by pirates. The pirate team that attacked Alabama had to deal with the largest and most powerful naval forces in the world, the modern US naval forces. 

On April 9, the ship intercepted USS Bainbridge. Presently, the Bainbridge group boarded Alabama, catching the majority of the privateers and safeguarding the team. 

  1. The captain escaped in a lifeboat, but the pirates tracked him down again and boarded him.
  2. On April 12, US seals raided a lifeboat, freeing the captain, killing three pirates and capturing a fourth, Abduwali Abdukadir Mews. 
  3. Muse became the first pirate in a century to be tried in an American court. 

Historically speaking, this was an outstanding act of the United States – it demonstrated naval power and protected its citizens from pirates half the world away from their shores.

In 2005, the UN International Maritime Organization, from its headquarters in London on the banks of the Thames, began warning of an increase in pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden, which overlooks the Indian Ocean. 

There were several attacks in the previous decade, but then in 2005, there was a sharp increase – to more than ten.

There were about a dozen attacks that year and each of the next two years. Concerns about them were compounded by the fact that an al-Qaeda branch is located in Yemen, on the northern shore of the Gulf of Aden. Al-Qaeda’s second branch, Al-Shabab, took root in the anarchist land of Somalia.

From 2007 to 2008, the situation worsened. The number of attacks rose to 51 in 2007 and then to 111 in 2008. The attacks spread from the Gulf of Aden to the Indian Ocean. And in 2007, Somali pirates attacked a World Food Program convoy ship delivering food to ease the crisis in Somalia, where an estimated 2 to 3 million Somalis were starving.

Governments started to react, beginning with the UN Security Council, where they gave an aggregate call for a quick activity to ensure WFP ships and address the developing issue of robbery. 

This has forced international lawyers to struggle to figure out one of the oldest areas of international law, the law of piracy – basically a series of legal agreements between 18th-century European powers that have hardly been updated since the 19th century.

To update the 21st-century piracy code of practice, lawyers have taken two successive steps. One of the fundamental principles of modern international law is that state sovereignty extends to the seas, that is, each state with a coastline is granted a 12-mile zone of exclusive sovereignty in the so-called “territorial waters.” 

Other countries can pass through these waters through a provision known as “innocent passage”, which (unusual in an international legal concept) actually explains the principle at stake: ships of other states can pass through the exclusive waters of a sovereign state if their presence in any – either the method threatens or harms the state in question. 

However, this meant that foreign navies could not legally enter the territorial waters of Somalia to fight pirates, because their actions were not “innocent.” 

So all the pirates had to do was retreat to the outer territorial waters twelve miles offshore to avoid pursuit. 

To combat Somali pirates, the UN Security Council abandoned this provision, giving any state wishing to participate in the fight against piracy the right to enter the territorial waters of Somalia to fight pirates. And this gave these states the right to use “any means” to suppress pirates, that is, the right to use force.

As it turned out, a group of ships was already patrolling in the Gulf of Aden. In the aftermath of 9/11, the United States established what is known as Joint Task Force 150 to defend against terrorist activities in the Persian Gulf. 

It has brought together the navies of major NATO allies such as Germany and the United Kingdom, and other American security partners. 

Part of this unit has been transformed into Joint Task Force 151 with an anti-piracy mission focused on the Gulf of Aden.

The Somali pirates’ response was flexible. Far from retreating from attacks in the Gulf of Aden, where CTF 151 was patrolling, they simply expanded their threat range, moving further into the Indian Ocean, south to Zanzibar and north to Oman and Pakistan. Pirate attacks continued to rise, as did economic costs.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Opinion Piece

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