[dehai-news] (Reuters): US lacks intelligence to fight pirates in Somalia


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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sat Dec 13 2008 - 11:38:22 EST


US lacks intelligence to fight pirates in Somalia

Sat 13 Dec 2008, 10:10 GMT

MANAMA, Dec 13 (Reuters) - The United States lacks the intelligence needed
to pursue the fight against pirates on Somali soil, U.S. Defense Secretary
Robert Gates said on Saturday.

His comments come days after the U.S. delegation at the United Nations
circulated a draft resolution that would give countries the right to pursue
pirates on land as well as at sea.

"With the level of information we have at the moment, we're not in a
position to do that kind of land-based operation," Gates told a regional
security conference in Bahrain. "Our first need is intelligence, (to know)
who is behind it."

Referring to media reports that "two to three clans or extended families"
were behind the pirate attacks on ships off the Somali coast, Gates said:
"If we can identify who those clans are then we can operate on land under
the auspices of the United Nations and seek out ways to minimise collateral
damage."

Scores of attacks in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean in recent months have
pushed up insurance costs, earned Somali pirates tens of millions of dollars
in ransom and prompted foreign navies to rush to protect merchant shipping.

On Friday, Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, who commands the U.S. Navy's Fifth
Fleet in Bahrain and oversees a coalition of navies fighting piracy off
Somalia, also expressed concern about the difficulty in identifying the
pirates.

He said firms should use armed security guards much more to protect their
vessels. (Reporting by Frederik Richter; editing by Elizabeth Piper)

C Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.

 

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