Marine terror

2008-11-21 00:00

Somalia may be the world’s most notorious failed state; but it is successful at high technology marine terrorism. This week’s seizure of a super tanker, to add to the 11 vessels already held, has added a new dimension to piracy. The danger zone now covers a quarter of the Indian Ocean.

Here is a major threat to world trade, although perhaps a windfall for South Africa as ships abandon the Suez Canal for the Cape route. Freedom of the seas is a basic precept of international relations and the world has been caught napping by a lawless country.

The British and Indian navies have already neutralised some pirates, but their elimination will require considerable resources, possibly even armed convoys. It is a problem that will eventually be overcome, but it sounds an awful warning. South Africa has as its immediate northern neighbour a potentially failed state.

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