Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Piracy Hotspots

A BBC article reports a pirate attack on a tanker off the coast of west Africa, but it’s not an isolated incident, as the article also notes, “The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) says piracy in the waters of west Africa is on the rise, with 100 such incidents recorded last year.” Naturally, not all incidents are reported for various reasons (shippers don’t want their insurance to go up, for example), so the actual number is certainly higher. The pirates were thought to be from Nigeria, which is politically unstable. Political instability and poverty, not to mention weakened state power, provide a breeding ground and opportunity for pirates, rebels, and other non-state actors.

The waters off Somalia, and now the Indian Ocean, have gotten all the attention lately, and we hear little about west Africa, or the Malacca and Singapore Straits. As this article informs us, these straits in Southeast Asia had about 200 pirate attacks yearly until 2002. And why are pirate attacks so few there now? Because countries in the region expend much energy in conducting joint military patrols. When budget cuts, costly fuel, or other factors reduce or eliminate those patrols, pirates will lose no time in expanding their operations.

Wherever state power falters, we will see power vacuums and non-state actors ready and willing to fill them. Another case in point is Yemen, which has begun to disintegrate. Recall that energy is needed to maintain the state’s hold on power. When there is no longer enough energy, chaos ensues.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?