STRATEGIC ANALYSIS

Piracy in Somalia: Addressing the Root Causes

Volume: 
35
Issue: 
3
Articles
May 2011

Rampant piracy off the Somalia coast has brought the strife-ridden country back into attention. Economic hardship, and a deep resentment and anger against foreign exploitation of Somalia's maritime resources, have inspired the pirates to declare themselves 'coast guards of Somalia'. However, the growing attacks by the pirates have had an adverse impact on global commercial shipping. The international community has responded to this predicament by massive naval deployments in the Gulf of Aden. This article argues that the long-term solution to piracy on the high seas off Somalia lies in addressing the chaos on shore. Such an approach, however, is strewn with numerous challenges. The role of external actors like Ethiopia, Eritrea and the United States has contributed to the instability. The growing division and infighting between Somalian Islamists, violations of the UN arms embargo and insufficient influence of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have further exacerbated the problems.