Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Iran and Somalia blame the international community for helping pirates

Some of you may have heard of the recent report from Somali news outlet in which the head of the Transitional Federal Government's naval forces, Admiral Farah Omar Ahmed, was critical of foreign warships patrolling the seas off his fractured country (see also EagleSpeak's post about this, here). Speaking in Mogadishu on Sunday, Adm. Farah Omar claimed the international community's warships are "pretending" to watch over pirates while, instead, are "mass collecting the Somali sea resources".

The TFG admiral's perspectives are based on an assessment they did of recent activity. He is quoted as saying that "We have been closely following what actually is the so called NATO troops are doing over the Somali waters [sic]." Apparently all those sailors and other personnel embarked in the region are fishing their days away, in lieu of trying to safeguard the seas from pirates, as shown by a net the admiral presented at the press conference, one which the report says "foreign troops were using in catching fish in the Somali water." The admiral went on to urge the international community not to complain about the activities of pirates, but focus instead on doing something about the vessels fishing in the area (though whether he means warships or commercial vessels is unclear).

But while hoping to augment their meager diets on the warships with some local fish, Western coalition forces are also actively engaged in providing logistical assistance to the pirates operating from Somali, at least that's according to a senior Iranian commander. The Fars News Agency reports that Fariborz Qaderpanah, head of Iran's First Naval Zone, is blaming coalition forces for complicity with and assistance to Somali pirate gangs.

Qaderpanah said that pirates have become so skillful thanks, in part, to hi-tech weaponry supplied by the western states. "Why don't the coalition forces, which enjoy super hi-tech equipment, annihilate the buccaneers of the region forever and why do they provide the ground for the continuation of their activities through their suspicious supports?," he asked.

I guess that operating all that super hi-tech equipment is just too much for sailors busy tossing lines and nets over the transom of a warship.

(By the way, for those surprised that there is a 'Somali navy' with an admiral in charge, this is a relatively new entity that was re-established in June of this year. As detailed in a Voice of America report, this is the first government-backed navy in Somalia since the disintegration of the country's armed forces back in 1991, and, if the information in the report is correct, the admiral's first command position since 1982.)

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