The Somali pirates who took a US merchant captain hostage for five days were heavily armed but inexperienced youths, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday, adding that the hijackers were aged 17 to 19.
The pirates who kidnapped Captain Richard Phillips, three of whom were killed by US Navy snipers Sunday, were "untrained teenagers with heavy weapons," Gates told a group of 30 students and faculty members at the Marine Corps War College in Quantico, Virginia.
"There is no purely military solution to" piracy in the region, he added.
"As long as you've got this incredible number of poor people and the risks are relatively small, there's really no way in my view to control it unless you get something on land that begins to change the equation for these kids."
>>>As long as you've got this incredible number of poor people and the risks are relatively small, there's really no way in my view to control it unless you get something on land that begins to change the equation for these kids
In other words, start paying them money - giving them welfare - so they'll stop kidnapping people and holding ships for ransom?
Here's a way to solve the piracy problem - kill all the pirates. Have a few planes in the area with heat-seeking missiles, and as soon as a pirate vessel leaves its moorings, shoot it out of the water.
Yes, the pirates are poor - although rich enough to buy weapons, apparently - but is it the fault of the US that the Somali government can do nothing for its people? Or rather, wants to do nothing for its people? Let us not forget there are two different tribes in Somali, and like the Hutu and the Tsutsi in Kenya, they both hate each other and think the other tribe inferior. Weird how that happens, isn't it?
Obviously the stakes are raised now. American ships and French ships will now have their crews killed on sight, apparently, which will necessitate Navy ships escorting them. No big deal - that's what navies are for!
Here's info about Somali from the Wikipedia...it's apparently the Muslims who are the pirates...
Italian Somaliland gained its independence from Italy on 1 July 1960. On the same day, it united with British Somaliland, which gained independence on 26 June 1960, to form the Somali republic. The Somali state currently exists largely in a de jure capacity; Somalia has a weak but largely recognised central government authority, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), but this is only the latest in a string of ineffectual, externally recognized governing authorities.
De facto control of the north of the country resides in the regional authorities. Of these, Puntland, Northland State, Maakhir, Galmudug, acknowledge the authority of the TFG and maintain their declaration of autonomy within a federated Somalia, while Central, Southern Somalia, and Kismayo (the third largest city in Somalia) are under the control of the Islamic Courts Union and Al-Shabab. Baidoa is currently the seat of the TFG, and Somalia's commercial centre. On the other hand, the Somaliland region in the north, with its capital in Hargeisa, has unilaterally declared independence and does not recognise the TFG as governing authority. It is unrecognised internationally due in part to opposition from the TFG and other countries, such as neighbouring Ethiopia, which fear ensuing secessionist movements.
Interestingly, while AIDS is ravaging much of Africa, it is relatively unknown in Somalia, due, it is presumed, to the Muslim religion there. (Although one wonders if it's that, or if it's because, with the country being in such a state of flux, there's just no way to know who has AIDs and who doesn't?)