Friday, November 14, 2008

Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of Arak - Twenty-First Century Pirates threaten World Trade

Can you believe this is happening in 2008? Avast ye landlubbers!
13 Nov 2008 17:44:18 GMT
Source: Reuters

Nov 13 (Reuters) - Somali pirates are causing havoc in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, which connects Europe to Asia and the Middle East via the Suez Canal.
Piracy off the Horn of Africa has been a problem for years, but daily attacks are now forcing shippers to seek alternative routes. Pirates have been exacting big ransoms from ship owners, threatening humanitarian supplies, firing on laden oil and gas carriers and pushing insurance costs sky high.
Here are some facts about how the wave of attacks is threatening international seaborne trade.
-- Major operators of the world's merchant fleet -- carrying some 90 percent of the world's traded goods by volume -- are seriously considering by-passing the Gulf of Aden and Suez Canal altogether.
-- Industry experts say the alternative trade route, round South Africa's Cape of Good Hope, would add some three weeks or more to a typical journey, pushing up costs for goods.
-- Two well-known shipping firms, one that specializes in gas and the other the world's largest tug operator Svitzer, are already routing their vessels via the Cape of Good Hope.
-- Millions of tonnes of crude oil, petroleum products, gas and dry commodities like grains, iron ore and coal, as well as containerised goods from Hi-Fis to toys are ferried through the Gulf of Aden and Suez Canal every month.
-- The Gulf of Aden is located in the Middle East with Yemen to the north, Somalia to the south and the Arabian Sea to the east. It is connected to the Red Sea by the Bab el Mandab strait. Somalia has been stuck in civil conflict for 17 years.
-- Exports from the Gulf and Asia to the West must pass through Bab el-Mandab before entering the Suez Canal. Nearly 20,000 ships pass through the Gulf of Aden each year, heading to and from the Suez Canal.
-- The Bab el-Mandab passage handles around 3.3 million barrels per day of oil en route to the Canal and the Sumed Pipeline discharging in the Mediterranean for onward shipment to markets in Europe and the United States.
-- Seven percent of world oil consumption passed through the Gulf of Aden in 2007, according to Lloyd's Marine Intelligence Unit.
-- Around 30 percent of Europe's oil goes through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea.
-- Liquefied natural gas exports from Qatar and Algeria pass through the Gulf of Aden en route to consumers in the West and in Asia. The largest class of gas carrier transiting the area carries enough gas to heat 4.5 million British homes.
-- The Gulf of Aden and Suez Canal are the main trade routes for dry commodities and containerised cargo -- manufactured goods -- between Asia, Europe and the Americas.
-- The Suez Canal is the third major source of income for Egypt.
-- Intelligence sources say three suspicious trawlers are now in the Gulf of Aden and are believed to be pirate mother vessels looking to attack and hijack ships.
-- The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said a total of 199 incidents of piracy or attempted piracy were reported worldwide during January-September, of which 63 were in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast.
-- Recent attacks have brought the anti-terrorist Combined Task Force 150 into action. The multinational unit, part of Washington's Operation Enduring Freedom, is based in Djibouti and has come to the aid of many ships attacked by pirates.
-- In late August, it announced a string of waypoints marking a Maritime Security Patrol Area or safe corridor, which warships will patrol while coalition aircraft fly overhead.
-- While there is no formal agreement between the coalition and other navies, they have been communicating with each other and sharing information to more effectively patrol the area.
-- The British navy killed two pirates this week after the attempted hijacking of a Danish vessel. Britain's HMS Cumberland was joined in action by a Russian frigate. French ships have also engaged pirates in recent months, killing some, capturing others and freeing hostages.
Sources: Reuters/EIA, Lloyd's Marine Intelligence Unit, GlobalSecurity/Ministry of Defence/International Maritime Bureau.
(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: (Writing and reporting by David Cutler and Stefano Ambrogi; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Justice" in Islamist Somalia

Stoning victim 'begged for mercy'

A young woman recently stoned to death in Somalia first pleaded for her life, a witness has told the BBC.

"Don't kill me, don't kill me," she said, according to the man who wanted to remain anonymous. A few minutes later, more than 50 men threw stones.

Human rights group Amnesty International says the victim was a 13-year-old girl who had been raped.

Initial reports had said she was a 23-year-old woman who had confessed to adultery before a Sharia court.

Numerous eye-witnesses say she was forced into a hole, buried up to her neck then pelted with stones until she died in front of more than 1,000 people last week.

Meanwhile, Islamists in the capital, Mogadishu have carried out a public flogging.

Mogadishu is nominally under the control of government forces and their Ethiopian allies, who face frequent attacks by Islamist and nationalist insurgents.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in the city says the flogging was a show of strength.

He says two men accused of helping to kill a man and torture his mother, who they accused of theft, were each given 39 lashes in the north-eastern suburb of Suqa-hola.

The man who actually killed the alleged thief was released, after agreeing to pay his family 100 camels in compensation.

Before the flogging, hundreds of Islamist fighters performed a military parade, our reporter says.

Death threats

Cameras were banned from the stoning in Kismayo, but print and radio journalists who were allowed to attend estimated that the woman, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, was 23 years old.

People were saying this was not good for Sharia law, this was not good for human rights, this was not good for anything--Witness.

However, Amnesty said it had learned she was 13, and that her father had said she was raped by three men.

When the family tried to report the rape, the girl was accused of adultery and detained, Amnesty said.

Convicting a girl of 13 for adultery would be illegal under Islamic law.

A human rights activist in the town told the BBC on condition of anonymity that he had received death threats from the Islamic militia, who accuse him of spreading false information about the incident.

He denies having anything to with Amnesty's report.


Court authorities have said the woman came to them admitting her guilt.

Islamists in Mogadishu
Islamists are becoming increasingly open in the capital, Mogadishu
She was asked several times to review her confession but she stressed that she wanted Sharia law and the deserved punishment to apply, they said.

But a witness who spoke to the BBC's Today programme said she had been crying and had to be forced into a hole before the stoning, reported to have taken place in a football stadium.

"More than 1,000 people arrived there," he said.

"After two hours, the Islamic administration in Kismayo brought the lady to the place and when she came out she said: 'What do you want from me?'"

"They said: 'We will do what Allah has instructed us'. She said: 'I'm not going, I'm not going. Don't kill me, don't kill me.'

"A few minutes later more than 50 men tried to stone her."

'Checked by nurses'

The witness said people crowding round to see the execution said it was "awful".

"People were saying this was not good for Sharia law, this was not good for human rights, this was not good for anything."

But no-one tried to stop the Islamist officials, who were armed, the witness said. He said one boy was shot in the confusion.

According to Amnesty International, nurses were sent to check during the stoning whether the victim was still alive. They removed her from the ground and declared that she was, before she was replaced so the stoning could continue.

The port of Kismayo was seized in August by a coalition of forces loyal to rebel leader Hassan Turki, and al-Shabab, the country's main radical Islamist insurgent organisation.

Mr Turki is on the US list of "financers of terrorism".

It was the first reported execution by stoning in the southern port city since Islamist insurgents captured it.

The BBC had a reporter in the area, but he was shot dead in Kismayo in June.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/11/04 16:42:24 GMT