Zero tolerance urged amid piracy threat

Analyst draws attention to murky legal definitions of the dangers in the Gulf of Aden.
Combat-ready soldiers on a Swedish naval speedboat take part in a training exercise to prepare them for operations off Somalia starting from 15th May.
Combat-ready soldiers on a Swedish naval speedboat take part in a training exercise to prepare them for operations off Somalia starting from 15th May.

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A GCC naval officer has called for a zero tolerance policy on pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden, an industry analyst claimed yesterday.

Dr Theodore Karasik, senior researcher at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said the officer advocated shooting pirates that attempt to board merchant ships. The officer’s name and nationality were undisclosed.

“It would act as a deterrent but it all comes down to the definition of piracy,” Karasik told Arabian Business on the sidelines of the Piracy and Shipping Security Briefing in Dubai.

“There needs to be a complete review of the definition of what a pirate is and what point he is a combatant as opposed to a civilian. The legal process will then be clearer if the person is captured or if a pirate approaches you and shoots and you then shoot back.”

Since 2007, attacks on merchant ships steering through the Gulf of Aden have increased significantly, according to Karasik.

In January, the crew of a Saudi Aramco-owned supertanker were released after being held hostage by Somali pirates for two months. The Sirius Star was seized off the east African coast on Nov 15.

Another attack, this time on a Turkish cargo ship, was thwarted last month by a Saudi navy frigate.

Karasik said the laws governing how much force ship captains and crew can using during an attempted seizure was unclear.

“There is still some confusion over the rights, regulations and insurance policies,” he said. “Again, it’s an area where everybody needs to sit in a conclave and all get on the same page.”
 

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