Somali Piracy: The Rapidly Deteriorating Security Situation in Somalia and the Threat to US Interests

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The Rapidly Deteriorating Security Situation in Somalia and the Threat to US Interests
The increasing violence and continued growth of piracy off the coast of Somalia has threatened international shipping in one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors and raised the awareness of maritime-based Islamist terrorism (Stevenson, 2010). Somali piracy threatens commercial shipping and poses a potentially significant threat to international peace and security. Pirates have threatened and seized many ships, contributing to a rise in shipping costs, insurance premiums, and impeded the delivery of food aid shipments. Controlling piracy should be an utmost priority for United States policymakers.
Somalia is slightly smaller
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As of the March 2012, 14 vessels and 199 hostages are being held directly due to Somali Pirates (IMCC, 2012). Although the number of events of Somali Pirate associated vessel hijackings appears to be declining, the impact of piracy and cost associated with it are increasing.
The Department of Transportation reported in a case study in 2010 that over 80 percent of international maritime trade moving through the Gulf of Aden is with Europe. Although European economies are currently more directly affected by the attacks, the United States is also affected by piracy. Piracy poses significant burdens on governments and the maritime industry as they take steps to protect themselves from being attacked or hijacked (DOT, nd).
For example, In February 2011, USA Today reported that four American civilian citizens were shot by pirates in the Gulf of Oman. Four U.S warships were deployed and Special Operation Soldiers attempted the evacuation of the hostages but all four were killed after an RPG attack on US vessels and small arms fire were heard. This may have been in retaliation of a court sentence from a New York court a couple of days earlier for Somali pirates sentenced to 33 years in prison for the attempted hijacking of the US vessel Maersk Alabama. Sea Merchant carriers basically have two courses of action against piracy in the Gulf of Aden: Avoiding the area by rerouting vessels via the Cape of Good Hope, or accepting the risk of operating ships

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