When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wraps up her final visit to the United Nations tomorrow, it is reported that she will urge the Security Council to authorize “all necessary measures” to combat piracy in Somalia, including allowing foreign militaries to launch incursions onto Somali soil looking for pirates.
Exactly how this would work is unclear, and there is widespread disquiet about even attempting it. Foreign officials fear the incursions would violate international law, while Secretary of Defense Robert Gates concedes that the US lacks the military intelligence to even carry out such operations.
Even Somalia’s government, which has lost control of nearly the entire country at this point, isn’t pleased, with Foreign Ministry official Osman Mohamed Adan saying the raids would be only a temporary fix, and calling for a broader international force to prop up what remains of their failing government.
But the big problem is that the invading forces simply couldn’t tell the difference between pirates and others living in towns along the coast. “There’s a real danger of arresting fishermen,” warns Chatham House’s Roger Middleton, who reminded the potential invaders that “it’s not like in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ where you turn up in one cavern and they’re all there and you can arrest them.”
The foreign forces, once deployed, will inevitably wind up guessing who is and isn’t a pirate, causing widespread civilian casualties much as the Ethiopian forces, who declared victory last week and are currently withdrawing from the nation, have.