Somalia Facing ‘Foreign Invasion’; A.U. Chairman Defends ‘Pirates’
Sharif Ahmed, Somalia’s president, has said his country is being “invaded” by foreign fighters who are joining armed groups in their attempt to overthrow the government. Al-Shabab, one such armed group, reportedly has up to 1,000 foreign fighters in its ranks. Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reports. (2:28):
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has slammed representation of Somali pirates as criminals, saying they act within their rights to “defend their territorial water”.
Speaking a two-day summit of Saharan states in the Sabrata City on Saturday, Gaddafi said Western countries are to blame for the maritime crisis off the Horn of Africa state, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Gaddafi says that the pirates are hungry men who only carry guns to hijack those who are looting the Somali resources.
The Libyan leader, who was elected chairman of the African Union earlier this year, went so far as to suggest Somali pirates were on an anti-looting mission in their waters.
“They are not pirates but people who are defending their rights.”
Gaddafi said the Somali pirates need real help and that Libya will accuse several countries of violating the international law if they do not stop their interference in Somali waters.
In the real world, Somali bandits have terrorized the waters with attacks on trade ships in one the world’s busiest shipping routes. The pirates hold the vessels and onboard crewmembers hostage for ransoms, made off with millions of dollars last year, prompting an international anti-piracy mission.
Following his election as the new A.U. chairman in February, Gaddafi said one of his priorities would be to claim to limit the power of Western nations.
“It is a response to greedy Western nations, who invade and exploit Somalia’s water resources illegally … It is not a piracy, it is self defense. It is defending the Somalia children’s food,” he argued during his inaugural tour in Ethiopia.
- African Nations Call for Somalia Blockade (21 May 09)
- A.U. May Seek NATO Help in Somalia Crisis; U.S. Blames Eritrea for Somali Instability (16 May 09)
- VIDEO — Somalia Piracy Began in Response to Illegal Fishing and Toxic Dumping by Western Ships off Somali Coast (17 Apr 09)