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Feingold on Piracy and Terrorism: Two Problems, One Cause « The Washington Independent

Here’s Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, making a clear distinction between Somali pirates and Somali terrorists, while indicating that both scourges are rooted in the dysfunctional state of Somalia itself — a condition he says the United States should work to correct. From an interview today with MSNBC:

Based on the information I have … these are fundamentally two separate issues. I’m not going to say that there’s no possibility that there would be a connection or there wouldn’t be a connection at some point, but the piracy issue and the potential role of al-Qaeda are both a result and a continuing problem if you do not have a successful, comprehensive government in Mogadishu, in Somalia.

In other words, previous governments have been able to limit the piracy, And, of course, a legitimate government that is inclusive — but does not include al-Shabab and al-Qaeda sympathizers — would be able to minimize the role of al-Qaeda in Somalia.

So both problems are major issues for the United States. I would put the al-Qaeda one number one, and piracy certainly is important as well.

But the answer here is for this administration to — not just the members of Congress … — now the administration needs to step in and reach out to try to help this government that they’ve put together succeed. It’s time to try to see if it’ll work.

And this all makes sense. Like Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, the Somali pirates appear to be motivated by cold hard cash, not ideological fervor. The good news is that, as Feingold says, the revival of Somalia — both political and economic — would surely temper the attraction of piracy, which tends to have a higher mortality rate than other professions. The bad news, of course, is that stability remains a long ways off.

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