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Friday, 13 May 2011

Dutch Defense Minister Hans Hillen ponders on attacking Somali pirates at their home turf. Are The Netherlands, Germany and the UK creating a casus belli in the Horn of Africa?

The Netherlands, Germany and the UK are fed-up with the enduring attacks of Somali pirates on their merchant ships, tankers and container carriers.
According to Dutch Defense Minister Hans Hillen, in an interview with Dutch business news radio station BNR (; interpreted, summarized and translated by me -EL):  “It is a disgrace and it truly annoys me that a bunch of Somali pirates with their $2000 dollar fishing boats, a few Kalashnikovs and some RPG’s (rocket-propelled grenade) can keep the western world’s high-tech navy ships and commercial fleet busy for months and months. Of course those small boats and those pirates don’t stand a chance with the modern navy ships and our well-equipped navy sailors, but the sea at that location is so huge, that it is impossible to guard it all.
And every commercial ship that is hijacked is an extra motivation for the others to go on with their actions. And make no mistake: these are not just poor fisherman that are executing these actions. This is organized crime that makes usage of Somali people that are poor and desperate enough to do such things.
And when the interviewer Niels Heithuis of BNR asked the minister if sending ground troops to Somalia might be the answer to this problem, Minister Hillen reacted: “No, please don’t call our plan sending ground troops. That would be overly exaggerated. We just want to order some marines to go to the Somali beaches and  ‘play a little bit with the pirates’ boats’. When they are finished, the pirates won’t bother us anymore”.
Heithuis: “But don´t you rob the Somali fishermen then of their only source of income? The people are already very poor there, with little to eat”?
Hillen: “No, we won´t. We have a lot of intel from the Dutch Military Intelligence Service (MIVD)and with that we make sure that we only damage the boats, engines and fuel tanks of the perpetrators. And we probably will execute this in close cooperation with the German and English armies, who were very interested in this plan ”.
Heithuis: “But would it not be better to fight poverty in Somalia”
Hans Hillen: “Of course we will fight poverty in Somalia and other places. But we are busy for ten years now in Afghanistan to fight poverty. This takes a long time. And our commercial fleet can´t wait for this, so we need to take more immediate action”
And that, my dear readers, is how a casus belli (a cause for war) is created.
I don´t want to talk about the European large fishing ships clearing the Somali waters of their fish in order to serve the giant European market, making the Somali fishermen destitute. I also don´t want to talk about the political situation in Somalia, which is precarious, as you probably know.
I just want to talk about the utter stupidity and arrogance of The Netherlands, Germany and the UK to execute such an idiot plan. This is THE example of asymmetric war: to send a platoon of hi-tech, fully armed marines to demolish the $2000 boats of some desperate people in order to stop them from hijacking and robbing European, American and Asian containerships and oil tankers.
We would be utterly surprised when the Somalian navy (if there is any) sends a navy ship to European shores to wreck the Dutch and English navy ships that attacked `their` pirates. But that is exactly what we do in Somalia: because we are able to do it without suffering bloody losses!
Let me be clear about it: I am against piracy and in my opinion those pirates should be brought to justice, preferably at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. But instead of attacking the Somali pirates at their home turf and demolishing their only source of income, the European countries should dig into the causes of these pirate attacks: the enduring poverty, drought and overfishing that makes it impossible for Somali people to earn for an honest living. And Europe should also look at the religious and tribal conflicts that make Somalia one of the most problematic countries of Africa.
And please stop with this warmongering idiocy of this totally clueless Dutch Defense minister

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