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Stop calling them pirates

The Guardian reports on a skirmish between French troops and a band of Somali pirates with a hijacked yacht — one of 18 vessels currently seized, along with more than 250 hostages. The French ultimately recaptured the ship; sadly, one hostage died during the rescue. The article says the yacht’s sailors were repeatedly warned not ...

The Guardian reports on a skirmish between French troops and a band of Somali pirates with a hijacked yacht — one of 18 vessels currently seized, along with more than 250 hostages. The French ultimately recaptured the ship; sadly, one hostage died during the rescue.

The article says the yacht’s sailors were repeatedly warned not to pass through the area. 

French officials have privately expressed exasperation at the determination of the Tanit’s crew…to persist with their expedition to east Africa despite the parlous security situation in the region.

The American captain of the Maersk Alabama remains a hostage in another flotilla, though the United States has sent in rapporteurs and helicopters.

It’s a sorry, sorry state of affairs. And it suggests two things to me.

First, pirate exhaustion looms. (Though we’ve tested the limits on this blog, and found them boundlessly wide.) At one point, the pirates seemed a welcome distraction. Not so much any more — people are dying, Somalia is a failed state. Second, as others have suggested, we should stop calling them pirates and start calling them something like "maritime terrorists," to end any remaining romanticization. 

The Guardian reports on a skirmish between French troops and a band of Somali pirates with a hijacked yacht — one of 18 vessels currently seized, along with more than 250 hostages. The French ultimately recaptured the ship; sadly, one hostage died during the rescue.

The article says the yacht’s sailors were repeatedly warned not to pass through the area. 

French officials have privately expressed exasperation at the determination of the Tanit’s crew…to persist with their expedition to east Africa despite the parlous security situation in the region.

The American captain of the Maersk Alabama remains a hostage in another flotilla, though the United States has sent in rapporteurs and helicopters.

It’s a sorry, sorry state of affairs. And it suggests two things to me.

First, pirate exhaustion looms. (Though we’ve tested the limits on this blog, and found them boundlessly wide.) At one point, the pirates seemed a welcome distraction. Not so much any more — people are dying, Somalia is a failed state. Second, as others have suggested, we should stop calling them pirates and start calling them something like "maritime terrorists," to end any remaining romanticization. 

Annie Lowrey is assistant editor at FP.

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