Posts Tagged ‘NATO’

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Piracy still a viable business model

January 4, 2013

It is remarkable that “In the past six months, there has been no successful hijacking of a merchant vessel off Somalia.”  This is thanks largely to more armed guards on merchant vessels and the presence of NATO forces.

Yet, warns the NATO commander, “the business model is still intact” for Somali pirates, who have soaked corporations, insurance companies, and their governments of hundreds of millions of dollars.  The opportunity here is to build on recent successes and bring the Somali pirates to their knees once and for all.  It’s not the time for the NATO fleet to sail home yet.

From Reuters:

World must not let up pressure on Somali pirates – NATO

By Adrian Croft

BRUSSELS | Mon Dec 17, 2012

(Reuters) – Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia have dropped sharply this year but piracy remains a viable “business model” and could bounce back if international naval forces in the region are cut back, the outgoing commander of the NATO mission said on Monday.

Hijackings of ships in a vast area of the Indian Ocean off Somalia have dropped to seven in the first 11 months of this year compared to 24 in the whole of 2011, although Dutch Commodore Ben Bekkering said 136 hostages were still being held.

In the past six months, there has been no successful hijacking of a merchant vessel off Somalia, said Bekkering, who has handed over command of NATO’s Ocean Shield anti-piracy force to Italian Rear-Admiral Antonio Natale.

Pirates operating from the Somali coast have raked in hundreds of millions of dollars in ransoms from hijacking ships, leading NATO, the European Union and other nations to dispatch warships to patrol the area.

Merchant ships responded with tighter security measures, including greater use of private armed security guards.

Bekkering attributed the decline in piracy to the naval patrols, the heightened security on the merchant ships, putting suspected pirates on trial outside Somalia and the Somali authorities’ counter-piracy campaigns.

Some pirates had abandoned their camps, seeing them as too risky, and taken refuge in villages, he said.

But the gains in fighting piracy were reversible if the world’s navies eased up on their efforts, he said.

“I am convinced, if navy ships would disappear, the piracy model would still be intact,” he told a news conference.

“Yes, they don’t deploy that much to sea but the leadership of the piracy is still there and if they hold their breath for a little while and nations (take) their navy ships back, I am pretty sure that the business model is still intact.”

HOSTAGES

The financial crisis has led many Western countries to slash their defence budgets, but Bekkering said he saw no sign NATO nations’ commitment to the anti-piracy operation was waning.

In March, the alliance extended its counter-piracy mission until the end of 2014.

Bekkering said about 16 to 18 ships from all international forces were on patrol in the Indian Ocean at any one time and this was the “bare minimum” needed to patrol such a vast area.

Pirates are still holding five ships with 136 hostages of various nationalities…

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NATO confirms Taliban funding intact

February 16, 2012
John McLaughlin's Nato excerpt

Graphic from The McLaughlin Group, 2/3/12

In addition to revealing the depth of Pakistan’s stewardship of the Taliban, the NATO report released to British media last week said that the Taliban’s “strength, motivation, funding and tactical proficiency remain intact.”

Periodically you’ll see comments on other blogs to the effect that the Taliban’s finances are on the decline, but there is no evidence for that.  All indications have been that the Taliban’s revenues were as robust as ever in 2011.

Letting the Taliban set up an office of their own in Qatar—a country facing a high risk of money laundering activity—suggests 2012 could be another profitable year for the Taliban.

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New tax on harbi truckers

October 26, 2010

To shore up its frightful budget, Pakistan is considering a new tax against U.S. trucks.  Sounds like Pakistan is taking a page from the Taliban’s book.  Or from Hizbul Islam’s.  Or from Caliph Omar.  From the Daily Times on Oct. 10 (h/t Rantburg):

Pakistan mulls tax on NATO trucks

LAHORE: The government is considering imposing a tax on NATO supply trucks going into Afghanistan from Pakistan, a private TV channel reported on Saturday. According to sources, NATO supplies are sent to Afghanistan through Chaman and Torkham road networks. On the other hand, some 500 trucks filled from Pakistani refineries go to Afghanistan on a daily basis and this had been the routine since the last seven years, the channel said. Numerous highways had been adversely affected due to the heavy trucks and hence the government said it considered imposing a tax on their supply. The government might also demand a road tax from the US for the past seven years of transporting these trucks, which would amount to approximately Rs 600 million, the channel reported.

For the past seven years?  Add retroactivity to the list of what’s wrong with Pakistan’s awful tax system.