Update: Has TopCat Marine Security Been Ordered to Cease & Desist? & Other Regional News

Possibly so, according to Kathryn Cramer's blog, Top Cat Marine Security Ordered to Cease & Desist.

...the US Department of States Bureau of Arms Control has issued a Cease and Desist order to Top Cat Marine Security on their pirate-fighting contract with Somalia....

But so what?

Ethiopia_eritrea2_map416 From the region are BBC reports of Eritrea ejecting UN peacekeepers monitoring the border with Ethiopia. This comes as a possible reaction to threatened UN sanctions resulting from a lack of compliance with a five year old peace agreement. Kofi Annan and the UN Security Council gave an unusually strong rebuke in response: "The Security Council unequivocally demands that Eritrea immediately reverse its decision without preconditions." The most recent flash point was Badme, far from the contested Horn areas and the coast. Is this related or coincidental? Keep reading for a lesson on complexity systems (you'll have to read my other posts... at some point I'll do another, overview).

The region has a lot going on right now. Rumors of something happening before Christmas seem to be gaining traction with reality.

However, some key questions yet to be answered:

  • Was a "cease and desist" actually issued, assuming that is the appropriate legal remedy in this case? If not, will it be? Will it be a paper tiger?
  • Does this mean the dissolution of TopCat Marine Security for either the purpose of protecting Somalia's coast or for good?
  • Will those involved with TopCat regroup, if the haven't already, and continue on their planned path?
  • If this was a clandestine operation, will USG do a better job next time? (Based on the participants in this fiasco I highly doubt this was a USG-sponsored adventure. If it was, somebody should be demoted or fired.)
  • Lastly, will there be similar fanfare in the media over the termination of this coast protection solution? I doubt it because I doubt the validity and legitimacy of the whole TopCat endeavor.
  • Will there be another public attempt at a private or public solution? Will the EU, AU, UN be more involved the next go'round, especially as a result of the publicity?
  • OR was this all a complete shame by a criminal (see Kathryn Cramer's post on Casini & TopCat, the "man" behind TopCat Marine Security) and Somalia is no closer to security or will good things result from the publicity? Based on certain rumors and suggestions, I question the likelihood of this path... it seems like a lot of mobilizing went in behind the scenes to stop a scam artist and a lot interest from people other than District Attorney's (lawyers working for municipalities in the United States) and Attorney's General (lawyers working for states in the United States).

My money is on the last option AND the third option. This puzzle isn't complete, just one of the pieces has been dropped (kicked?) to the floor. While we don't have confirmation yet, Casini may be getting called on his failure / inability to deliver product to (shady) buyers and compliance with US Code (and apparently bankruptcy courts, etc). However, what is the real importance of the "cease & desist"? Does it not just legally halt TCMS's involvement? What was their REAL participation anyways? Providing some boats, making some wonder how long before the pirates are cruising on COBRAs, to the region, possibly some teeth? The change of scope from littoral anti-piracy to seeking the "mother-ship" and back was either a lack of discretion by the in-over-his-head Casini or ?

Kathryn Cramer has a theory it was related to insuring ships.

Information / feedback I have received and reviewed indicate TCMS was simply part of something larger and not a lone wolf out to make a few bucks. With TCMS out, will the underlying effort it was clearly providing cover for cease, burrow, or disperse? The access to natural resources (including Yemeni fields accessed from Somalia), the Chinese, and armed factions inland are at most related to the piracy problem and not direct consequences of privateering. The land-bound warlords obviously have at least some control (are there sealords in the area? Kevin Costner, are you out there? sorry...) over the pirates, but they aren't the whole game.

More to come for sure as the security situation of Somalia is dire. A reality underscored by the  reporting from Kenya of another hijacking of a ship of "unknown ownership and registry was seized in the pirate-infested waters of Somalia early Tuesday".

:: See also the Somalia and Africa categories for additional information, include Chinese and energy implications