posted at 20:50
Author: Brian Ries
Where are all the Somali pirates?
In a year that's seen the rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, coupled with a crippling Ebola outbreak in West Africa, an international coalition of countries has made quiet progress eliminating a threat that once terrorized mariners along one of the world's busiest shipping corridors and costing the global economy an estimated $7 billion dollars a year - Somali pirates. "Thanks in part to the work of the Contact Group," a coalition of 80 countries, international organizations and companies that was established in January 2009, "Pirates have not successfully attacked a commercial vessel in this region in over two years," a State Department spokesperson announced this week. Meaning: It's a heck of a lot harder to be a pirate these days, and it's only getting worse. Before pirates saw such hijackings as low-risk, high-reward, but now the risk is much higher. While expressing cautious optimism, both officials and experts say there's no room for complacency, lest the pirates reclaim their control of the corridor. "There is always going to be the risk of piracy off the coast of Somalia as long as the country is a de facto failed state," said Menkhaus. A State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said: "We are all working with the new Somali Government as they grapple to rebuild their state, but in the meantime we must not be complacent regarding piracy." As of late this month, there remains at least 37 hostages in the hands of the pirates - down from an estimated 600 at piracy's peak - and an estimated 1,400 pirates or suspected pirates facing courts or prisons in 20 countries.

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