The British have affection for Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta The Pirates of Penzance
. These pirates are jolly rascals. No such description can be applied to the pirates of Somalia and even less to the Pirates of the Levant, the Israeli navy.
Wide publicity has been given to piracy in Somalian waters since Captain Phillips of the American-crewed Maersk Alabama was captured. The arrival of a US missile cruiser and US destroyer added the tension and glamour required by the Hollywood confederation. The killing of three young Somalians and the release of the captain provided the blood and the triumph for the star spattered banner. Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and along the long shoreline of Somalia started in 1995 in response to rapacious fishing
, mostly by Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean vessels. The dumping of toxic waste by European nations stoked more resentment1
. Foreign fishing boats were the first targets but when these got protection from local warlords, the Somalian pirates turned to commercial and cruise shipping. With at least 20,000 vessels on passage they had plenty to choose from. Since the US navy Seals shot their men, over sixty more seamen have been taken hostage.