The Microeconomics of Somali Piracy 

By Brandon Scott

Originally Written in 2010

Crime Pays, and piracy pays very well these days. Piracy is by far not a new issue.  In the first few years of the 19th century the United States had to send Marines to the shores of Tripoli to combat an enduring piracy problem. However, the last few years the world has been seeing a drastic increase in piracy off the East African coast. In increase to such an extent it has brought global adversaries together to combat the threat. Since 2007, the number of successful pirate attacks has increased nearly fourfold. There were a total of 293 pirate attacks worldwide in 2008, of which 38% occurred within the Gulf of Aden or off the coast of Somalia (Leader). Read More

How Piracy Saved Somalia: The Unintended Positive Consequences of Somalia Piracy

By Brandon Scott

Piracy off the coast of Somalia splashed onto the global stage in 2009 at near epidemic levels. The impact of Somali piracy affected the entire global community as shipping costs soared costing the global community as much as $18 Billion.[i] The wave of piracy attacks however was short lived due to a quick and comprehensive response by the international community to counter piracy and its causes. The world’s response to Somalia continues today and is a reversal of 20 years of alienation prior; that made possible Somalia’s de-evolution into a failed state that the world ignored and feared simultaneously. The success countering the three-year piracy epidemic however shadows the success of piracy for Somalia by demanding attention and assistance for a withering nation – in effect: piracy saved Somalia. Read More

Why the dangerous new turn for #piracy matters #Africa #Nigeria #GulfofGuinea ##MEND #BokoHaram #BringBackOurGirls

Why the dangerous new turn for #piracy matters #Africa #Nigeria #GulfofGuinea ##MEND #BokoHaram #BringBackOurGirls

This is a rising situation that in many ways, mirror Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden and around East Africa. It is critical that the world recognizes the importance of the Gulf of Guinea and the greater West African region. I hope that the increased media attention from the 2-300 young females kidnapped by Boko Haram that hit the Western media this week, will bring global attention to Nigeria.

Whether the world wants to ignore Nigeria or not, come 2015 there is little chance that they will be able to. In 2015, Nigeria’s election will surely bring a conflict between the nations factions to include Boko Haram and the MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) who continue to pose a threat to regional and national security. To better understand the simmering explosion that Nigeria is I recommend checking out David Kilcullen’s recently published Out of the Mountains book that details the Nigerian urban & peri-urban  environments and their propensity to develop into a full violent collapse.

Iran’s Counter-Piracy Efforts


Something I find phenomenally interesting is the “Freakanomics“, if you will, of international security relations. Two examples of this is how perceivably bad situations can inherently develop positive outcomes. The first example of this is the littoral communities of Somalia that benefited from piracy (specifically during its hey-day from 2007-2010). I drafted a write up a few years back of how the littoral communities with infused cash began rather positive urban development using the cash they extorted from their hostage-taking. This of course lends itself to the theory that economic development stems violence & crime – and piracy in the long run. This is an entire other topic though somewhat tied to the fact that Somali Piracy in and around the Gulf of Aden has essentially created a situation where international Naval powers have been forced (at times in  consensus, at times in coincidence) to execute effectively joint counter-piracy sea operations in the region.

Iran, yesterday or so, rescued more pirate victims – this time the victims were Yemeni. I love seeing this. it is a sign of what I view the future of International Security to be. For Iran, this is not the first time either. Here we see one example of Iran’s efforts back in 2012, and again Iran’s interdiction of a hijacking and detention of a senior Piracy King. As Wired Magazine points out in their article: “This isn’t the first time Iranian mariners have concerned themselves with pirates. As the pirates have moved aggressively into the northern Indian Ocean, Iran’s navy has stepped up patrols and maritime surveillance, even joining in international counter-piracy patrols.”

Ergo, this is the irony of International Security Dynamics; as Wired continues: “Piracy may be unique in international affairs for its ability to bring enemies together. Pakistan has saved Indian sailors from Somali pirates. China and Taiwan, same thing. The U.S. Navy saved Iranian sailors practically every weekend in January. Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria, etc.”

In a way, to illustrate this with the arguably most extreme of terms, it is two potential foes conducting joint combat operations together to protect globalization. Despite the Information Operations between the two countries, and often perceived disdain, there is much positive outcome from it. The end game result ultimately has shown it’s capacity for solution production.