[dehai-news] (Reuters): SNAP ANALYSIS-New world order shapes up off Somalia

New Message Reply About this list Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Jan 09 2009 - 14:58:19 EST

SNAP ANALYSIS-New world order shapes up off Somalia

Fri Jan 9, 2009 10:48pm IST

By Matthew Tostevin

LONDON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The Somali pirates who released a Saudi
supertanker got a $3 million reward, according to their associates. Good
money in one of the world's poorest and most war-blighted corners.

But the waters off Somalia are getting ever more crowded with foreign ships
trying to stop the pirates. As well as potentially making life more
difficult for the hijackers, it has become a real illustration of the much
talked about global power shift from West to East in terms of military might
as well as economic strength.

This raises a question as to whether this will lead to close cooperation,
rivalry or something altogether more unpredictable.

This week the United States said it planned to launch a specific anti-piracy
force, an offshoot of a coalition naval force already in the region since
the start of the U.S. 'War on Terror' in Afghanistan in 2001.

It wasn't clear just what this would mean in practical terms since U.S.
ships were already part of the forces trying to stop the modern day
buccaneers, equipped with speedboats and rocket-propelled grenades. It was
also unclear which countries would be joining the U.S.-led force rather than
operating under their own mandates.

The U.S. announcement came two days after Chinese ships started an
anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden. This is the first time Chinese
warships have sailed to Africa, barring goodwill visits, since Ming Dynasty
eunuch Admiral Zheng commanded an armada 600 years ago.

The Chinese deployment was scrutinised by the strategic community from New
Delhi to Washington.

The Chinese had actually been catching up to other Asian countries. India
already had ships in the region. So did Malaysia, whose navy foiled at least
one pirate attack this month. Reasserting its might, Russia had sent a
warship after the big surge in piracy in the Gulf of Aden between Somalia
and Yemen. The European Union has a mission there.

For Asian countries there is good reason to send warships. This is the main
trade route to markets in Europe and their ships have been seized. Attacks
on shipping push up insurance rates and force some vessels to use more fuel
on the longer, safer route around Africa instead of taking the Suez Canal.

But there certainly appears to be evidence too to back up the U.S. National
Intelligence Council's 'Global Trends 2025' report late last year that
highlighted the relative decline in Washington's long term influence in the
face of the rise of China and India.

As well as being a chance for the world's old and new powers to show their
strength in terms of numbers, the anti-piracy operations off Somalia could
prove something of a test of effectiveness.

While the hardware the navies have will always outclass that of the pirates,
the new powers may have an advantage in more robust rules of engagement.
That might lead to mistakes, however. In November, India trumpted its
success in sinking a pirate 'mother ship'. It later turned out that a Thai
ship carrying fishing equipment had been sunk while it was being hijacked.
Most of the crew were reported lost.

There is a lot of sea to cover, one of the reasons why naval forces have had
so much difficulty in stopping the hijackings, but the presence of so many
navies in the same area at the same time must raise questions over how well
they are going to work together. (editing by Janet McBride)

C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved


         ----[This List to be used for Eritrea Related News Only]----

New Message Reply About this list Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

© Copyright DEHAI-Eritrea OnLine, 1993-2009
All rights reserved