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Puntland's Lucrative Piracy Business – Police Turn Pirates
By\ Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi
Piracy, kidnapping and hijacking of ships is the most lucrative profession in "Puntland". The leaders of "Puntland" including Adde Mouse and President of Transitional Government of Somalia (TGS) Abdullah Yousuf take a loin's share from this illegal business.
Moreover, Puntland allows human trafficking, in which thousands of poor Ethiopians and Somalis are shipped in small wooden boats meant for lighter cargo to Yemen . The human traffickers charge from $50 to $100 per head. Human Rights accused Puntland of conducting this illegal business.
As the international news agencies reported and I pinpointed in my earlier articles, Puntland officials established the piracy business in mid 1998, starting with human trafficking to Yemen and expanding to piracy. The President of Puntland, Adde Moose, and TGS President Yousuf, founder and former leader of Puntland, emerged as the leading figure in the business of piracy.
Recently, French Forces, stationed in Djibouti , arrested six Somali pirates. France confirmed that all six members are kinsmen of Yousuf and Moose, and have been identified as former Puntland Police officers by French authorities. They are serving a lifer in Paris .
News agencies like AFP and AP reported that Puntland pirates earned $40 million in this year only, which is much more than Somalia 's national budget. The dirty money of pirates enhanced the economy of Puntland, and even improved the deteriorating living standards of the people of Puntland.
"Puntland" formed Anti-Piracy Police Unit and even succeeded in freeing one of the hijacked ships, but the reality within "Puntland" says this was only a measure by the leaders to deal international pressure to end piracy.
The unit is combination of former pirates, because the police force lacks the training and hence cannot be relied on for protecting international vessels. Such a ragtag unit can only provide a hollow defense against piracy because it will ultimately be in cahoots with its erstwhile friends.
Puntland's weak economy has paved the way to its police force to enter into this lucrative business of piracy, because the state is unable to provide them with handsome salaries.
The piracy money has begun to trickle down to lowest strata of society and is buoying up the entire economy of the state. The high-ranking officials of "Puntland" receive the lion's share of the dirty ransom money. The ransom money has come to be accepted as legal tender in the state owing to its importance in filling up state coffers.
In the backdrop of all these facts it is easy to estimate that there are no serious efforts being undertaken to tackle the menace of piracy. Any effort is only a sham to pull wool over the eyes of the international community.
A case in point is the recent hijack drama and ensuing rescue operation, in which police officers posing to be pirates hijacked a ship only to be rescued by their colleagues through a fake encounter. The question lingering in my mind is, will Puntland finish its own piracy? And will Puntland authority be able to stop such profitable illegal business?
In other hand, Somaliland remains committed to its security and stability, where the pirates don't subsist in Somaliland water. The international community should utilize the experience of Somaliland in the region, in order to end the piracy business in regional water.
Recently, Somaliland Forces crushed Puntland militia in its eastern regions: Sool and Sanaag. Somaliland is strong enough to eliminate Puntland pirates too.
Somaliland, the former British Somaliland, declared independence from failed Somalia 18 years ago, and remains active without international support. Somaliland has steady economy, army, police, jails authority, courts, elected government and parliament. Somaliland is model of modern democratic country, and deserves international diplomatic support.
By\ Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi