Sunday, November 23, 2008

Somali Piracy, Islamic Law, and Maybe a Piece of the Action

I should have seen this coming.

When Somali pirates hijacked the Sirius Star, they ticked off the House of Saud ("Pirates Hijack Saudi Supertanker: Not the Brightest Idea?" (November 18, 2008)).

They also offended an Islamic 'militant' group in Sudan. It's name translates as "youth," or "the youth," and gets Latinized as the Shibab, al-Shabab, the Shebab, or Al-Shabaab.

It seems that, under (their version of) Islamic law, piracy is
  • A capital offense
  • If the ship is from an Islamic country
    • " is impermissible to detain the ship of an Islamic country..."
      (Mareeg Online)
That makes sense, sort of, in an antique sort of way: You don't pillage or kill your own people; but outsiders are fair game. Some of my ancestors, a thousand years or so back, experienced that sort of law - from both sides.

High Ideals, High Finance, and Spiritual Warfare

Since countries don't get much more "Islamic" than Saudi Arabia, Al-Shabaab is seriously ticked with the pirates. They've issued an ultimatum: release the ship, or get attacked.

Someone living in Harardhere, where the excitement (and the ship) is, thinks that what Al-Shabaab actually wants is a piece of the action. Which, considering that there's a multi-million-dollar ransom involved, is quite possible. The armored personnel carriers that Al-Shabaab uses to practice its form of spirituality cost money.

Piracy: From Boom Times to 'Kaboom?'

The Somali pirates may not be in the best position. Sure, they're living like kings with the ransom money that's flowing in.

But they've made shipping in the Gulf of Aden so dicey, that companies are diverting cargo around the Cape of Good Hope: longer trip, more expensive, but safer. Shipping companies don't like that, and neither do their customers: who get stuck with higher shipping costs.

Which makes countries like Russia, India, and America upset with the pirates. Saudi Arabia went on the list when their supertanker was hijacked.

The Somali government, for what it's worth, has threatened military action.

The United Nations is remarkably clear about not approving of what the pirates are doing.

And now, at least one bunch of Islamic militants is coming after the pirates.

My guess is that, if anyone wants to try the 'let's sit down and talk' sort of diplomacy, they'll have to hurry.

In the news:


Brigid said...

Al-shibab. Not to be confused with shish kebab, which the Somali pirates will be if Saudi Arabia gets it's hands on them.

I would not want to be those pirates right now.

Brian H. Gill said...


Indeed! Aside from some of the businessmen in their territory, that depend on their business, I don't think they've got a friend in the world.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.