Sunday, September 18, 2016

Southeast Asia Becomes the World's Hotbed for Piracy

Recently, the waters within and surrounding the archipelago nations of Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines have vastly overtaken the Horn of Africa to become the world's most dangerous geographical area for piracy. According to the International Maritime Bureau, there were a reported 178 pirate attacks on ships sailing through Southeast Asia, while there were none reported around the Horn of Africa. The latter is credited to a recent crackdown on pirate groups in Somalia by the militaries of multiple nations. According to the Bureau, a third of the 98 pirate attacks that occurred in the first third of this year happened in Southeast Asia. The largest current threat to shipping in Southeast Asia is a terrorist group known as Abu Sayyaf, an extremist group based in the Sulu archipelago in the southern Philippines. This group is best known for taking whole crews of ships as hostages and holding them for ransom. In response to this hostage-for-ransom trend, the nations of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines agreed in May to form an alliance whereby the three countries' navies will "conduct coordinated naval security patrols in the Sulu Archipelago," allowing them to collectively fight against pirate groups like Abu Sayyaf. The three navies also have the right to pursue pirate vessels or pirate-hijacked vessels across national boundaries of the three countries, thereby assuring the fastest possible military response to hijackings. The hope is that through these three nations' cooperation, piracy attacks will reduce in number in Southeast Asia. In spite of this, there are many scholars who doubt that these nations will be able to successfully work together.

-Justin Wysocke

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