Skip to comments.When Governments Turn to Piracy
Posted on 02/12/2006 4:06:59 PM PST by Cannoneer No. 4
Sometimes, governments carry out acts of piracy. A case occurred last month when a Ukrainian ship, carrying fifteen Belgian Pandur wheeled armored vehicles, on loan to UN peacekeeping troops from Benin, stopped at a port in Equatorial Guinea. There, on January 3rd, officers from the Equatorial Guinean navy boarded the ship, arrested the four Beninese soldiers guarding the vehicles (and other military equipment). Shortly there after, the stuff the Beninese soldiers were guarding was removed from the ship. The Ukrainian ship was actually carrying a hundred vehicles for the UN, all painted white, with UN markings. The UN is trying to get Equatorial Guinea to explain what is going on, and get the vehicles and equipment back. The Ukrainian ship and its 23 man crew is still being held. Belgium had loaned all that gear to the UN, and insists that the UN get it back.
This sort of thing is not unusual for Equatorial Guinea. Last year, Mark Thatcher, son of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, was forced to pay Equatorial Guinea a $500,000 fine to get out of the country. Thatcher had earlier been arrested and charged with attempting to overthrow the government. There's certainly a need for that. Equatorial Guinea has been ruled, since 1979, by dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (who inherited the job from his uncle, via a coup.) Obiang has grown increasingly paranoid and unstable of late. That's because oil was discovered in the 1990s, and that produced more money than has ever been seen before in the tiny country of only 600,000 people. Obiang has stolen most of the $700 million in annual oil income, handing out enough of it to cronies to keep himself in power. But, in a situation like that, who can you really trust? So when a ship comes by, with a hundred UN peacekeeper vehicles on deck (worth some $20 million), what do you do? After all, the army of Equatorial Guinea consists of only three battalions, and the stuff on the ship would equip one of those battalions with better gear then they have now.
In any event, it's not uncommon for government officials to collaborate with pirates. In the last decade, it's happened in China and Southeast Asia, and elsewhere as well. The dictator of Equatorial Guinea is carrying on an ancient tradition, that still lives on today. UN leader Kofi Annan has been in touch with Obiang, and has admitted that this has not produced any results. Obiang has the stuff, and the UN has admitted they are short of peacekeeping troops in Africa. There's going to be a temptation to just look the other way, warn ships to be careful when entering the area, and move on. The situation in Equatorial Guinea is likely to resolve itself, as Obiang appears to be losing control, and members of his armed forces apparently want to get their hands on the oil money bank accounts. The United States has long protested the corruption in Equatorial Guinea, actually closing its embassy from 1995 to 2003 because of the atrocities committed by the government. The United States has dealt with this sort of thing before, as the U.S. Marine Corps hymn points out ("..to the shores of Tripoli.") But Equatorial Guinea is a miniature version of Iraq, and who needs another dysfunctional country to repair.
We don't do piracy here. We use the IRS.
Yea, so what's the UN going to do about it? Thought so.
The Belgians can kiss these vehicles goodbye. The Un has 2 chances of getting them back --slim and none. What are they going to do? Threaten them? Bwahahaaha thats a joke. UN threats are laughable.
"Yea, so what's the UN going to do about it? Thought so." SampleMan
Wonder what kind of Whine the UN will have with that cheese?
This does not surprise me. What is amazing that US government was able to find diplomats willing to work there before 1995 and after 2003.
Do it the old fashioned way, revenge. Send an "ailing" ship in while the crew departs and explode the ship in the harbor.
Not that I trust BBC much more than media in Equatorial Guinea :) but this report might be true.
And they have a nice web page there: U.S. Embassy Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
National Day Message from President Bush
Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of the American people, I extend my best wishes to you and the people of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea as you celebrate your national day on October 12.
The people of the United States look forward to forging an even closer relationship with the people of Equatorial Guinea in the coming year.
George W. Bush
Belgium is worse than the UN. They are both hopeless.
I am sure the Equatorial Guineans are quaking in their boots at the thought of retribution from the fierce Belgians.
China was engaged in piracy? I remember something about them protecting Scaramanga, but I thought 007 took care of that situation.
"uncommon for government officials to collaborate with pirates. In the last decade, it's happened in China"
I seem to remember something about this. Wasn't a fellow named Clinton involved?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.