Security Council Votes to Take Fight to Somali Pirates

By Matthew Harwood

The United Nations Security Council unanimously voted yesterday to authorize nations to use force against pirates on land or on sea, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Resolution 1851 authorizes nations to "use all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia" in pursuit of pirates, as long as they are approved by its transitional Government.

The resolution also urges states to deploy naval vessels and military aircraft to carry out the operations and calls for the creation of a regional office to coordinate international cooperation.

China, the International Herald Tribune reports, looks to be answering the call. If the Chinese government decides to send warships to the Gulf of Aden, it will be its first active deployment outside the Pacific Ocean. The Chinese navy has undergone rapid modernization recently and the deployment would not only help stop vessels carrying resources to its shores from getting pirated but would also showcase the navy's strength.

"Apart from fighting pirates," Li Jie, a military strategist and naval expert, told the state-run China Daily, "another key goal is to register the presence of the Chinese Navy."

The Chinese government's declaration of intent to deploy warships off Somalia's coast came as a "multinational" force fought off pirates attacking the Chinese ship Zhenhua 4 today.

Despite recent international efforts to stop Somali pirates, the pirates have only become more brazen. As Jeffrey Gettlemen of The New York Times reported Monday, more than a dozen warships from Italy, Greece, Turkey, India, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, France, Russia, Britain, Malaysia and the United States have deployed to the Gulf of Aden to fight piracy.

Nevertheless, over the past 2 months, pirates have attacked more than 30 vessels. Sometimes they attack in a swarm of 20 or 30 skiffs to overwhelm their target. Among their prizes include the Sirius Star—the Saudi supertanker carrying more than 2 million barrels of oil—and a Ukranian ship carrying 33 tanks. 

Piracy off the coast of Somalia, however, will not be solved by a coalition of international naval partners, said Kim Hall, a field representative of the federally funded Center for Naval Analyses at the 2008 Maritime Security Expo last month.

"[Piracy] is a land-based problem in need of a land-based solution," Hall said, adding that only bringing stability to Somalia has the ability to contain piracy.

Yet, as the Herald reports, Somalia is only sinking further and further into anarchy. Yesterday, the country's president defied Parliament and replaced the current prime minister with his own choice.

"The situation," the newspaper reports, "leaves Somalia with a huge crack in its beleaguered Government, insurgents in control of much of the country, rising prospects of famine - and two prime ministers."


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