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Have the Somali pirates and Al Shabab joined hands?

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In a concerning development, Somali pirates, dormant for six years due to anti-piracy measures, are resurfacing, raising alarms for the international maritime community. 

The recent attempted hijacking of the MV Lila Norfolk near Somalia, following four attacks in late 2023, indicates a resurgence of pirate activity. This resurgence is likely exploited by pirates due to the relocation of naval assets from the Indian Ocean to counter Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

Reports suggest a worrisome alliance forming between pirates and Al Shabab, the Al Qaeda terror group's affiliate controlling Somalia's Puntland region. Allegedly, Al Shabab offers protection to pirates in exchange for a significant cut of ransom proceeds. The collaboration is further evidenced by pirates wielding advanced weaponry, possibly acquired through Al Shabab's weapons smuggling network.

While this alliance isn't new, having been investigated in 2017 for ties between pirate "kingpins" and Al Shabab, its revival poses threats. The agreement enables Al Shabab to access funds crucial for recruitment and weapons procurement, vital for sustaining its activities and supporting other Al Qaeda affiliates.

The financial impact of piracy on shipping, not Al Shabab's gains, draws international attention. A resurgence in Red Sea piracy, a route handling about 12% of global trade, could cause massive cargo delays and spike ship insurance premiums, disrupting global supply chains and raising prices. Rerouting ships around Africa alone could cost up to $1 million in fuel for each round trip between Asia, East Africa, and northern Europe.

The Indian Navy's deployment to counter piracy off Somalia is notable, but uncertainties persist about its adequacy compared to the international forces focused on countering Houthi threats in the Red Sea. As piracy's reemergence poses a multifaceted threat, addressing the situation demands a comprehensive and collaborative response from the international maritime community.




Source: TRT World