Piracy off Somalia may spread to Yemen

In a file picture an armed pirate keeping vigil along the coastline at Hobyo town in Somalia. (AFP)

The piracy off Somalia's shore is "likely to spread to volatile Yemen", said a former White House official and a Somali-American journalist. They called for a new international conference to find a solution in an op-ed published in the Detroit Free-Press.

The co-authors – Yusuf M Hassan, former speechwriter for the leader of Puntland state (where most of the pirates are from) in northern Somalia, and Robert Weiner, former White House Drug Policy Office spokesman – connected the Somali conflict to Yemen.

They cited a concern of conflict over Yemen's projected depletion of oil and water supplies in coming years, warning: "Yemen's Government is in danger of becoming a failed state, as weak as neighbour Somalia."

"Only a viable solution for Somalia, including political investment by all parties and using the country's economic strengths of livestock, agriculture, and fisheries, can avert a regional disaster and a spike in piracy."

Describing the current UN-backed Somali interim government as "weak and paralysed by corruption", the authors called for "a new international conference in Puntland state, piracy's main source, where legitimate Somali parties are represented, with foreign diplomats and world media present for maximum visibility".

The conference's mission "would be: Enhance political and economic development within Somalia while expanding law enforcement against piracy. The purpose must not be to assert international control over the country." Hassan and Weiner said "more humanitarian assistance to Somalia's people, who have faced war, poverty and displacement for 20 years. Thousands of young men in Somalia are unemployed, armed, and desperate from impoverishment".

"We will not stop piracy just by the military chasing bad guys on the high seas. It is time for a comprehensive approach that addresses the causes that allow piracy to take root. Success would pay dividends against piracy in the entire region," Hassan and Weiner said.

 

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