Pirates drown with their booty

A Saudi oil tanker was released on Friday after nearly two months of negotiation between Somali pirate captors and the ship’s owners, Vela International. “The drop” was well, literally just that. As you can see in the photo above, $3 million in ransom was parachuted onto the Sirius Star to pay off the pirates. The ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
589672_090112_pirate5.jpg
589672_090112_pirate5.jpg

A Saudi oil tanker was released on Friday after nearly two months of negotiation between Somali pirate captors and the ship's owners, Vela International. "The drop" was well, literally just that. As you can see in the photo above, $3 million in ransom was parachuted onto the Sirius Star to pay off the pirates. The tanker and its $100 million worth of oil are now free.

So the pirates fled, no doubt joyous over their pay day. Well, that is until they sunk... with the money. Reports indicate that squabbling over the money, together with fear of pursuit by the international anit-piracy fleet, sent the boat tipping, and five pirates to their deaths at sea. The body of one unfortunate unfortunate swashbuckler -- together with his $153,000 ransom share -- appeared on the shore of Somalia this morning.

Much as we all love to hate piracy, I have to say I feel bad for the guy. It's not easy to make a buck these days in Somalia without a pirate-license. Actually, nothing much is easy in Somalia these days. And as Somali President Sheikh Aden Madobe told Reuters yesterday, the worst is yet to come. Al-Shabab, which now controls much of the country, is a massive threat to stability -- not just domestically, but the region as well.

A Saudi oil tanker was released on Friday after nearly two months of negotiation between Somali pirate captors and the ship’s owners, Vela International. “The drop” was well, literally just that. As you can see in the photo above, $3 million in ransom was parachuted onto the Sirius Star to pay off the pirates. The tanker and its $100 million worth of oil are now free.

So the pirates fled, no doubt joyous over their pay day. Well, that is until they sunk… with the money. Reports indicate that squabbling over the money, together with fear of pursuit by the international anit-piracy fleet, sent the boat tipping, and five pirates to their deaths at sea. The body of one unfortunate unfortunate swashbuckler — together with his $153,000 ransom share — appeared on the shore of Somalia this morning.

Much as we all love to hate piracy, I have to say I feel bad for the guy. It’s not easy to make a buck these days in Somalia without a pirate-license. Actually, nothing much is easy in Somalia these days. And as Somali President Sheikh Aden Madobe told Reuters yesterday, the worst is yet to come. Al-Shabab, which now controls much of the country, is a massive threat to stability — not just domestically, but the region as well.

As Derek S. Reveron writes in FP‘s Think Again section this week, that  instability on land is the reason the international war on piracy won’t work. Stay tuned for more blogging on this throughout the week.

David B. Hudson /U.S. Navy via Getty Images

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.