Παρασκευή, 21 Νοεμβρίου 2008

Negotiations underway for release of Saudi oil tanker

Saudi-owned crude oil supertanker "Sirius Star" is seen in this photograph taken in Rotterdam on October 17, 2008. Pirates who hijacked the Sirius Star off the east coast of Africa are taking the vessel towards a Somali port, the U.S. Navy said on Nov. 17, 2008. Picture taken October 17, 2008. The hijacked Saudi-owned supertanker has anchored off the coast of northeastern Somalia. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)


Negotiations underway for release of Saudi oil tanker
NAIROBI, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Talks are underway for the release of a Saudi-owned oil supertanker hijacked by Somali pirates last weekend, a regional maritime official confirmed on Friday. Andrew Mwangura of the East Africa's Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP), however, said he does not know the levels of the negotiations which are aimed at seeking the release of the vessel. "Negotiations are underway but I don't know the levels they have reached," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone on Friday. Media reports said the pirates are asking for 25 million U.S. dollars in ransom for the Saudi supertanker seized off the East African coast, and have called on its owners to pay up "soon". "What we want for this ship is only 25 million dollars because we always charge according to the quality of the ship and the value of the product," a man who identified himself as Abdi Salan, a member of the hijacking gang, reportedly said from Harardhare, in Somalia's semi-autonomous northern Puntland region close to where the ship is anchored. The ransom demands came as officials from the Arab League held a meeting in Cairo on Thursday to discuss how to better protect vital shipping lanes and condemned the hijacking, stating that piracy by Somalis was a result of the deteriorating political and humanitarian situation in the country. Egypt has been particularly threatened by the increase in attacks, as fees collected for travel through the Suez Canal are an important source of national revenue. One of Europe's largest shipping companies already has said it will reroute some oil tankers around the Gulf of Aden and the canal to reduce the piracy risk.
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Why world finds it hard to control rampant Somali piracies?
BEIJING, Nov. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Despite the fact that the U.S. Fifth Fleet is patrolling the area and NATO is also present, why is it that the world cannot control the rampant piracy near the coast of Somalia? The real problem, according to Commodore C Uday Bhaskar, an Indian expert, is that there is no international coordination among the naval powers that are patrolling the area. A second problem was the "very lawless nature" of Somalia itself, where the state has receded to becoming almost absent. Until the international community joins forces to rebuild a semblance of a state, piracy will continue unabated, the experty said. Third, and more dangerous, is the attractiveness of lawless regions like Somalia for terror groups like al-Qaida, which is currently sponsoring an insurgency in Somalia. It's not a huge leap of faith to imagine that al-Qaida could soon be running these profitable piracy operations from these coasts, said B Raman, a terrorism analyst. The lawless nature of Somalia means that operations on sea cannot be backed by land operations against the pirates, the security experts believe. The pirates can carry out their attacks on sea and disappear on land to reappear again. So, they said, the only way to control these pirates is to overrun their land bases. But this would not happen unless the main countries with navies in the region pool their forces together. Until the capture of the Saudi-owned supertanker "Sirius Star," even Saudi Arabia was "lukewarm" to the entire phenomenon. India too awoke after a Japanese vessel with Indian crew was taken some time back. Instead, international shipping corporations are circling the Cape of Good Hope, in order to escape the pirates, adding another 4,000 km to their journeys. The International Maritime Bureau reported that at least 83 ships have been attacked in the shipping lanes near Somalia since January 2008. Of these, 33 were hijacked. Twelve of these ships, with a total of 250 crew members, are still in the custody of Somali pirates. In fact, since "Sirius Star," the pirates have captured three more vessels. Last but not least, Somali pirates are soundly equipped and quite sly. Operating skiffs with powerful outboard engines, GPS systems and satellite phones, the Somali pirates who seized a Saudi supertanker have left officials open-mouthed in astonishment at their audacity. "Both the size of the vessel and the distance from the coast where the hijackers struck is unprecedented," Commander Jane Campbell, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, is quoted in the Guardian as saying. "It shows how quickly the pirates are adapting."

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