Somalia's Piracy Problem: Robbery on the High Seas Too Lucrative to Refuse

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In the harbor's small military area, base commander Col. Ahmed Ali deploys the members of his coast guard. They are a very strange-looking bunch, wearing well-worn boots and a mishmash of uniforms manufactured in the West and the former Soviet Union, boarding boats that the pirates can easily outrun. With the 400 men and 10 boats at his disposal, Ali is supposed to safeguard activities on almost 1,000 kilometers of coastline. He opts to say nothing of the replacement parts that never turn up, the lack of fuel and the salaries that always arrive late.

Ali knows what journalists want to hear. "Piracy is a scourge," he says. "But if we really want to get good at this, we need better radars for our boats, better training and real speedboats." And then he adds: "Instead of spending billions of dollars to deploy warships, the international community should invest in us. It would be a whole lot cheaper."

Translated from the German by Josh Ward

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