US: Egypt is leading efforts to persuade the Somalis to give up piracy

US: Egypt is leading efforts to persuade the Somalis to give up piracy

A senior American official said last Wednesday that Egypt is leading an international working group in the Gulf of Aden and holding direct negotiations with Somali pirates and people of the area to persuade them to intervene and to stop supporting piracy. It comes as Western observers have continued to play down the role of piracy after a turbulent 2008-2009.

The statement came in a speech by the Assistant Secretary of State for political-military affairs, Andrew J. Shapiro, to a seminar on law at the American University in Washington.

“The Third International Working Group led by Egypt, which is devoted to communication and negotiation on the issues of piracy in Somalia and surrounding areas in order to convince residents that they should not directly engage or even support piracy” is currently underway, Shapiro said.

Somalia, a failed state, has lacked an effective central government since 1991, which has led to lawlessness and the take over by warlords.

The US State Department said this week that more than 20 countries now participate in the international naval force, which works to secure the navigation in the Gulf of Aden. According to international groups, there are, on any given day, an average of 17 military naval ships patrolling the Gulf of Aden, which is partly related to the traffic channeled through Egypt’s Suez Canal.

The State Department said in its statement that an international force “is working steadily” and secures now, “about 30,000 cargo ships crossing from this corridor each year, many of which passes through the Suez Canal in Egypt.”

It should be noted that although the region is witnessing sea patrols, the acts of piracy has made the Horn of Africa one of the most dangerous areas in the world. The region has experienced numerous attacks by pirates, which makes conditions more favorable for fast and small boats used by pirates.

 Republished with permission from Bikya Masr