Arrrr, Matey! Somali Pirates!

Avast Daniel Craig! Avast Marc Foster (film director)! Avast the Broccoli family! And especially avast to the corps of James Bond scriptwriters! Move out smartly! Quantum of Solace, the 22nd and latest entry in the long-running James Bond series of movies, may have set a box-office record (at least for James Bond films) in its opening weekend, but now is not the time for the powerful Bond movie juggernaut to be resting on its laurels. Somali pirates are running rampage, having just captured their biggest prize yet, a fully-loaded supertanker, and the adventure-movie possibilities are just endless!

“They have the most beautiful women, the fastest autos and the best weapons.” Now, doesn’t that sound like the sort of challenge to Bond and his equipment supremo, the enigmatic Q, that just cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged? That quote starts off coverage of this Somali pirate phenomenon in an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel (“The pirates have hit the jackpot!”).

Well, blow me down, me hearties, ’cause I been keel-hauled – by no less than the BBC, which features that same “most beautiful women” quote (more-or-less) in its own web-article Somali pirates living the high life, together with lots of other interesting description of these pirates as well, all of course written in the BBC’s customary excellent (non-pirate-talk) English.

Sigh . . . that’s always the risk you take, here in the €S biz, namely that some great piece you find in a Danish, or Czech, or whatever-flavored article someplace on-line turns out to have some or all of its juicy information replicated elsewhere on the Net, in English, for all the faithful €S fans and RSS-subscribers to access directly themselves. What’s the point then of having your friendly neighborhood EuroSavant around, huh? I might as well go back to selling shoes.

Actually, though . . . the Spiegel article does mention a number of interesting points that you won’t find in the BBC treatment. Here are the ones I found:

  • First of all, and what is obvious to all if you click through the link and scroll down a little bit, are the maps showing where actual pirate-hijackings and attempted hijackings have occurred year-by-year since the year 2000. Very handy that (me hearties!), and the article also states elsewhere that the total of attacks that have occurred off the Somali coast just so far in 2008 numbers more than 60.
  • On the other hand, the recent, eye-catching capture of that supertanker, the “Sirius Star,” actually occurred far outside the usual pirate danger area – it was much more to the southwest, really off the Kenyan rather than the Somali coast. Not only does that fact signify that shipping-owners now have a bigger danger-zone to worry about than before, but that is an area that NATO has taken no responsibility for patrolling – meaning that, as a NATO spokesman made clear, that military alliance has no plans – and, seemingly, no intention – to do anything to free the ship or its crew. (Let me also add here: that “Sirius Star” supertanker is fairly brand-spankin’ new, having been commissioned only last March. And it is as big as one American aircraft carrier – not three, something I distinctly remember hearing from radio coverage on the BBC World Service.)
  • The government of that part of Somalia where the pirates are operating, known in German as Puntland (or, perhaps better put, the “government”), has actually decreed the death penalty for such piracy. Unfortunately, no such sentence has yet been carried out. In fact, the article cites Puntland government officials as confessing that the pirates have undoubtedly infiltrated their ranks with their own informants to gain assistance and information.

Finally, in the words of the article, “In a Somalia that is bitterly poor and marked by violence, anarchy, and civil war, modern sea-piracy passes as gentlemanly.” That’s right: the German adjective there is gesellschaftsfähig: “gentlemanly”; “refined”; “shaken, not stirred,” if you will. A job for Bond – James Bond!

(Oh, and I forgot: Avast Naomi Campbell, as well! She may be getting on in age, but she’d be just perfect for Daniel Craig’s inevitable Somali-wench love interest, don’t you think?)

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