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Somalia, The New Barbary?: Piracy and Islam in the Horn of Africa

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Somali piracy has been linked repeatedly to the spectre of Barbary. "Piracy off the Horn of Africa" has certainly raged with the intensity of a perfect storm with the spread of conflict and disorder, and the rise to power of elites that countenanced criminality. At the same time people have become fearful that Somalia may provide terrorists with safe havens from which they can launch attacks on targets in the developed world. Western policy towards Somalia has been dominated by such concerns to the exclusion of almost all else. It has a poverty stricken Islamic population, is positioned close to the Arabian peninsula which is now the wellspring of the most 'fundamental' form of Islam, and, from a maritime point of view, thousands of miles of unguarded coastline which should be ripe for Islamist exploitation. The purpose of this book is to examine whether or not state failure is a useful and accurate explanation for Somali piracy and if violent Islamism could exploit what the pirates have achieved for their own ends. It will review the history, motivation, organization, criminal methods and operational tactics of the Somali pirates from their first manifestations in the mid-1990s to the present. It will attempt to show that their activities and their fortunes are linked to the rise and fall of political groups within Somalia. It will ask why and how violent Islamist groups operate within Somalia and the degree to which they might exploit the maritime dimension in the future. Finally it will review whether or not the political and military solutions being practiced or proposed currently will resolve either problem. Hide synopsis

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