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Pirate Reprisals Might Be Indirect

After the rescue of Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips, some Somali pirates issued a predictable amount of bluster about reprisals. (“Every country will be treated the way it treats us,” said Abdullahi Lami, a pirate in the safe-haven Somali den of Gaan, according to The Associated Press.) Defense Secretary Bob Gates noted that the pirates who captured Phillips were “untrained teenagers.” But that’s not to say that there won’t be responses from the pirates — or indirect and second-order effects, even if there isn’t a predictable surge in pirate operations.

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at what the maritime shipping industry is bracing for:

The military intervention could also have economic repercussions for the industry, officials said. Insurance rates, already higher because of piracy attacks, might go up further to take into account the possibility of lethal firefights between pirates and navies.

And more companies could bypass the Gulf of Aden altogether, instead taking the long way around the Cape of Good Hope, adding to journey time and costs.

I’ll have more on this a bit later, but check out Noah Shachtman’s rundown of the options against the pirates. It’s nice and depressing!

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