How Pirates Get Paid

Passport’s Elizabeth Dickinson beat me to the scoop on the latest development in “pirate-gate.” Reuters quotes an evidently reliable “business partner of the pirates” named Farah, who expresses confidence that a “bargain” of an $8 million ransom deal will soon end the stand-off. NYT‘s East Africa correspondent — and noted pirate interviewer — Jeffrey Gettleman has this to report:

The pirates on the Ukrainian ship have said that after the money is paid — in American dollars and preferably in $100 bills, they will release the ship, its cargo and the 20 sailors on board.

No chest of gold, but a suitcase full of (unmarked?) benjamins is quite the booty, particularly when, as Elizabeth points out, Somalia’s GDP per capita is just $600. And while I can imagine what the pirates might buy with their loot, the question remains of who exactly will cough up the money.

This may not be a case of “negotiating with terrorists,” but clearly, countries need to do more to prepare for and undercut the growing threat of piracy. They could start by following up on the UN Security Council’s recent resolution urging states to deploy their naval resources in the Gulf of Aden (particularly to step up to replace Canadian forces, whose tour will soon end), and by investing more serious efforts in reaching a peace deal to calm the turmoil in Somalia — which is at the root of this threat to international security on the seas.