Monday, April 18, 2011

SOMALI PIRATES SAY THEY ARE AT WAR WITH INDIA

B.RAMAN

According to the Wikipedia,Information Dissemination is a weblog covering international and United States naval affairs. It was founded in 2007 by Raymond Pritchett, who edits it under the pseudonym "Galrahn", and has been called "one of the most-read Navy blogs".

2. Under the title, " Somali pirates Target India", this web log has disseminated the following report on April 16,2011:

Somalia Pirates Target India

Somali pirates have raised the ante for operating ships operating with crews that have nationalized citizens of India.

India has been cleaning up territorial waters and piracy operating in their EEZ with a great deal of success lately, and after several successful actions going back to February, India has apparently pissed off some of the pirates a great deal.

This is the latest incident:

Somalia pirates said on Saturday they would keep any Indian nationals from freed ships as hostages until fellow pirates held by India are set free.

Somali pirates, who make millions of dollars ransoming ships hijacked as far south as the Seychelles and eastwards towards India, on Friday released MT Asphalt Venture, but held some of its Indian crew.

"We are holding eight of Asphalt Venture crew. It was a joint understanding among us not to release any Indian citizens," a pirate who gave his name as Abdi told Reuters from pirate stronghold Harardhere.

"India hasn't only declared war against us, but also it has risked the lives of many hostages," he said.

Basically a multimillion dollar ransom was paid for the release of MT Asphalt Venture, and the ship was released, but the pirates kept 8 Indian nationals and are claiming they will keep all Indian nationals hostage until pirates that the Indian Navy and Coast Guard have captured are released. Pirates are no longer operating under normal rules, the spokesman in Harardhere is specifically using the word WAR, meaning they now feel they are in a state of war with India.

In the language of war, the pirates appear to be offering some sort of prisoner exchange.

Harardhere is the pirate stronghold in the south that many news sources have claimed direct financial agreements exist between pirates and Al Shabaab. ( a pro-Al Qaeda organisation )

India has over 35,000 nationals who are employed globally as seamen on commercial ships flagged from a number of countries, and there are some very powerful maritime unions that work to protect the rights of those workers. We might also see some issues raised with insurance payments, because if a ransom payment is not valid for an Indian seaman, that could create a pretty big problem for piracy insurance premiums for ships with Indian nationals as crew members.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds over the next few days."

3. "The Hindu" of Chennai has reported as follows on this incident on April 19:" The Navy has sent a warship towards the Somali coast to keep a vigil on the hijacked merchant vessel on which seven Indian sailors are being held as hostages, despite payment of ransom by the owners of the ship. INS Talwar, currently deployed on an anti-piracy patrol mission off the Gulf of Aden, was diverted towards the coast. The move is being seen as an aggressive posture by the Navy. During an informal interaction, Defence Minister A.K.Antony refused to comment on whether the warship would launch action to free the hostages. Sources in the Navy and the Government maintained that the move was to ensure that the merchant vessel was not rendered further vulnerable and that the warship would not leave the area unless the hostages were released."

4. "The Hindu" has further reported as follows: "According to latest figures, 53 Indian sailors are being held hostage on five different ships. Of them, 17 have been held for the longest on MT Savina Caylyn, an Italian ship which was seized on February 8,2010."

5. The tricky incident has two dimensions ---tactical and strategic. The tactical dimension relates to securing the release of the Indian sailors who are still held hostages in order to apparently force the Government of India and our Navy to agree to a swap deal for the release of the Indian hostages in return for the release by India of some of the Somali pirates arrested by the Navy in the past, The Indian naval ship sent to the area would most probably have the following objectives: Firstly, to collect reliable intelligence. Secondly, to persuade/pressure the pirates to release the Indian sailors without harming them. Thirdly, to prevent the hostages from being transferred to land in Somalia from the ship, which could come in the way of rescue operations. Fourthly, to launch rescue operations involving minimal risks to the hostages if all other options fail. Since the Somali authorities have very little control over these pirates, the question of the Government of India using intermediaries may not arise.

6. The strategic dimension relates to how we are going to prevent similar incidents in future and to examine what kind of scenarios we might face in future and what kind of proactive and reactive options are available to our Navy. In view of the activist role of the Indian Navy in dealing with Somali piracy, the targeting of Indian nationals, interests and Indian naval and other onshore establishments by the pirates---with a steadily lengthening reach towards the Indian coast--- could become more frequent, more virulent and more aggressive.This would call for a re-look at our counter-piracy strategy. ( 19-4-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

3 comments:

Paresh said...

The problem is that the nexus of states or groups at 'war' with India is growing. Maoists, home grown Jihadis, Pakistan, NE insurgents, China, Bangladeshi Jihadis and now Somali Pirates.

India is also expanding its friends. But because of our position of neutrality or non-alignment, our friendships are only economic or cultural or energy related. There is no military alliance dimension to our friendships. On the other hand, our enemies may have both an economic and military aspect to their alliance against India.

What encourages more and more groups or states to readily join in the alliance at 'war' with India is the fact that India does not actively and ruthlessly punish such groups. There is no payback, no harm, no risk that India will retaliate in any way. MMS-Sonia-Rahul led UPA has really put cotton around India's boxing fists. We need to remove this cotton as fast as possible and replace it with iron bone-crackers!

Retaliation can have four dimensions: overt military, covert military, economic and diplomatic. Overt military means war...which is not desired owing to our improving economy. Covert military means sending spies and cyber warfare. I don't know what stops India from formenting touble behind enemy lines using this weapon. Our diplomatic muscle has never been flexed by MMS and his weak-kneed SM Krishna. He is an embarrassment to our foreign policy. Where diplomatic shoving is needed, Krishna goes for an embrace and is repeatedly slapped. Instead of diplomatically and economically squeeeezing our enemies, by misplaced bonhomie, we release their pressure and they continue their blackmailing strategies.

Its for these reasons that more and more states and groups readily join the military nexus against India without fear of retribution.

Sarang said...

@Paresh,

Although UPA is the worst, its not just this government that treats our enemies with kids gloves. Other than Indira Gandhi's 1971 war and our victory in Kargil, India has rarely displayed ruthlessness in punishing perpetrators of war against our nation. Its our mindset. Indians have a deep guilty conscious about hurting anyone, even if we are at war. We just cannot digest that someone is our enemy and we are too eager to make friends even at the expense of our national interests. Read the book: "Hinduism and its Military Ethos" by Air Marshal (retd) RK Nehra.

Unless more youth with aggression come into Indian policy making (domestic, financial, military and foreign), India will remain the Grand Old Man of Asia, be it UPA or BJP who heads the govt. Our leaders need a Saurav Ganguly or MS Dhoni type attitude, who taught the Indian cricket team to be aggressive, ruthless, risk-taking and go for the KILL!

HP said...

If all pirates from coming from Somalia, why can't we do a naval blockade preventing all ships & boats leaving Somalia?