Actually, my headline is not entirely accurate. The Somali government isn’t just appealing to the Russians for help, but also to the Americans, the EU, Tuvalu, and presumably the good citizens of Bismarck, North Dakota — to anyone who can help get rid of those pesky pirates off the coast of Somalia.
The Somali “government” is a joke — how can there be a government of an utterly failed state?
If we lived in the real world, instead of a Postmodern Multicultural Fantasy Theme Park, this “government” of Somalia would have been shot by the warlords and thrown into the ditch a long time ago. But with the UN to prop him up, and Western aid to pay for his pinstripe suits and fax machine, Abdullahi Yusuf gets to make-believe that he’s the president of Somalia…
…a president who just happens to need the help of the Russians and the Americans to protect coastal waters of his country from the predations of his own people. According to The Washington Post:
Somali Leader Embraces Foreign Assistance Against Pirates
With U.S. warships offshore and a Russian missile frigate on the way, Somalia’s president, Abdullahi Yusuf, said Wednesday that he welcomed international intervention against Somali pirates roaming a main East-West shipping route.
The hijacking last Thursday of a Ukrainian-operated vessel carrying T-72 tanks and other weapons has galvanized the world’s leading navies after more than 60 other pirate attacks this year on ships off Somalia and in the nearby Gulf of Aden.
The defense chiefs of eight E.U. countries joined the fight Wednesday, agreeing to move toward creating a maritime security force against piracy, French Defense Minister Hervé Morin said in Paris.
In Somalia, Yusuf urged Somalis to turn against the pirate gangs.
“I also call on the international community to act quickly on what is happening in Somali waters as well as onshore,” he told reporters in the capital, Mogadishu. “We must do everything we can to stop piracy off the coast of Somalia.”
Wait a minute! What’s this “we”, Mr. Yusuf? Are you calling on the generosity of the American taxpayer to help you deal with Somali nationals in Somali coastal waters who prey on international shipping?
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What, exactly, is the function of your government? What are do your responsibilities consist of, besides nibbling the canapés at inter-agency cocktail parties? What do you think governments actually do?
Obviously, controlling piracy along your coasts is not part of the job description.
The pirates, on the other hand, are so powerful that they’ve imposed an embargo on the country. Those ragtag bands of guys wearing dirty singlets and carrying AK-47s and RPGs — somehow they’ve managed to embargo the entire nation of Somalia.
They make Blackbeard look like an amateur.
The pirates had imposed an “embargo” against Somalia and other countries by preventing trade and food deliveries, he said.
The pirates are holding the Ukrainian-operated Faina a few miles off eastern Somalia. They have demanded $20 million for the release of the vessel and its crew of 13 Ukrainians, seven Russians and one other Eastern European. The ship’s captain died of natural causes shortly after the hijacking, the pirates have said by satellite telephone.
The United States has deployed an unspecified number of warships and aircraft within sight of the Faina, and U.S. Navy officials have said they are intent on ensuring that the pirates do not unload the arms.
And what about the Russians?
Russian navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said Russian commanders hope for a peaceful end to the hijacking, independent and state news agencies reported Wednesday.
“Taking forceful measures, for obvious reasons, is an extreme measure, as this could create a threat to the lives of the international crew of the cargo ship,” Dygalo was quoted as saying.
But Somalia, for some reason, doesn’t expect the Russians to be as peaceful as the Americans in their handling of the pirates:
Somalia’s ambassador to Russia, Mohammed Mahmud Handule, said Somalia had authorized Russia “to fight the pirates in the sea and on the coast.” He praised Russia’s deployment and said Somalia was “not satisfied” with the results of actions taken by other navies. He did not specify the countries.
Well, the Danes paid the ransom. The French recovered their ship and its crew while bumping off a pirate or two in the process. And the Task Force has managed to chase off some of the pirates before they could capture their prey. So the results have been mixed so far.
But Somalia is ready to grease the Russian palm in hopes of a little quid pro quo:
Handule also said Somalia would follow Russia in recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two breakaway regions of Georgia. Few other countries have done so; the move is seen as condoning Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August.
Yusuf is head of a near-powerless Somali government that is propped up by the United States and other countries and by an occupying military force from neighboring Ethiopia. In recent weeks, fighting between government forces and Islamist insurgents has intensified.
The Communist dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted from power in Somalia in 1991. Ever since then, for seventeen long years, Somalia has been a failed state without a functioning government. Despite all the international aid, the intervention of the US military, and the efforts if the UN, it remains a political basket case.
If this were the real world, Somalia would either be overrun by a Taliban-style dictatorship, or carved up into pieces and divided among its neighbors.
But, as I said, this is not the real world.
Previous posts about the Somali pirates: