Egypt dithers as pirates reign

AGED: Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, © Unknown.
AGED: Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, © Unknown.

CAIRO - Marauding seamen infest the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, extracting tolls from ships and disrupting a trade route between Asia and Europe.

CAIRO - Marauding seamen infest the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, extracting tolls from ships and disrupting a trade route between Asia and Europe.

Egypt, one of the main direct beneficiaries of the transit trade, takes time to react. The government is in the hands of an ageing leader who looks to outside powers for help.

Egypt's response to the threat from Somali pirates this year has been cautious, given it is probably the country with most to lose if more shipping companies avoid the Suez Canal and divert their fleets to the Cape of Good Hope.

Egypt, which has frigates capable of patrolling the Gulf of Aden, has not deployed any warships to the area, where ships from India, Russia, Nato, the US and European Union are trying to suppress Somalia-based piracy.

"I'm not aware of them making any formal approaches to take part in the naval forces that are operating in the area," said Jason Alderwick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London.

President Hosni Mubarak, 80, who has been in power for 27 years, last week played down the gravity of the problem and gave no indication of imminent action by Egypt. - Reuters

X