A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[LINK] The Somali pirates’ Canadian connection

They’re not Canadian, but the Somali pirates’ base in the autonomous state of Puntland on the northeastern tip of Somalia is run by a former Ottawa gas-station owner.

The president of Puntland for the past three years has been Mohamud Muse Hersi, a former Ottawa gas station operator.

Hersi emigrated to Canada in the 1980s, bought a gas station and raised a family, but his clan connections to Somalia remained strong. When the elders of Puntland were looking for a new president in 2005, they chose Hersi.

There are about a dozen hijacked ships anchored off the Puntland coast at the moment, waiting as the pirates and shipowners haggle over ransom money.

Hersi’s critics accuse him and his ministers of taking bribes from the pirates to look the other way.

Ahmed Hussen, president of the Canadian Somali Congress, says he lacks evidence of such corruption but adds: “It would be inconceivable for all this piracy to be going on on the coast of Puntland without at least the knowledge, if not the collusion, of the Puntland government.”

Hersi vigorously denies the charge. As proof, he points to two successful counterattacks against the pirates mounted by Puntland’s coast guard.

Roger Middleton, an analyst at the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs, says the two hijackings Hersi’s government interfered with involved cargos of direct economic interest to the regime.

“In one case, the cement that was in the ship belonged to one of the ministers in the government, so there was clearly a reason why they wanted to get involved,” he told CBC News.

If the Puntland government really wanted to stop the pirates, it would, Middleton says. But piracy has become the region’s most profitable industry. Middleton estimates the pirates will net about $50 million US this year while the Puntland government’s annual budget is just $20 million US.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 27, 2008 at 6:13 pm

Posted in Assorted

Tagged with , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: