Who guards the guards?

Somali pirates often justify ship hijacking by claiming that they are coastguards protecting Somalia from illegal waste dumping in territorial waters. It is a claim treated with scepticism by most shipowners who find it hard to make any distinction between coastguards and pirates, and who doubt that there is any waste dumping anyway. Here’s a story which illustrates the reality. There is dumping, but the coastguards can also be pirates. The Dae San, a North Korean cargo ship with a crew of 33, was apprehended last month by Puntaland armed forces while dumping a rejected cement cargo off the coast of Somalia. Today it is reported that the ship has been hijacked by the same armed group, the Puntaland Marine Police Force. The government says it will free the ship. Given that the government lacks the firepower to take on the PMPF it seems unlikely. The answer to the question – who runs Somalia? – is easy. The person on the spot with the most guns.

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