Monday, May 10, 2010

Somali pirates and Islamists don't play nice (Or why not to invade Somalia to end piracy.)

Reuters reports that Hizbul Islam is attempting to clear out pirate enclaves from the coast of Somalia. Hizbul Islam argues that they're taking on a policing function that the government of Somalia they're fighting against is unable to undertake. The pirates themselves claim Hizbul Islam wanted a cut of the ransoms, and so they're now being punished for refusing.

I've argued in the past against invading Somalia for fear that a foreign occupation would help popularize anti-Western sentiment (UPDATE: This is what I argued against). I think the above dispute indicates I was right, but it also indicates that the clock has started clicking down to the moment where there is an operational link developed between Islamists and pirates. The Somali pirates are not a monolithic movement with an ideological antipathy for Islamists. They just don't want to share. If in the absence of government counter-efforts Hizbul Islam is able to continue taking pirate towns, eventually these pirate communities will begin to pay the tithe, and from there how long till operational inroads are made by al Qaeda afficiated groups?

This isn't something I'm concerned about happening this week, but unless something changes we probably have crossed a threshold.

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