Somalia threatened by illegal fishermen after west chases away pirates

The Guardian, 31 October 31 2015, Catrina Stewart

Five years ago, the isolated outpost of Eyl was Somalia’s most notorious pirate lair. Perched above the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean, the ramshackle town played host to wheeling and dealing pirate kingpins who would roar through the rutted streets in tinted 4x4s as captured ships languished in the shallow waters.

Eyl had become a byword for everything that was wrong with Somalia: a place of anarchy where a civil war and two decades of fighting had destroyed even the most basic institutions of a functioning state, a place where the gun and ransom dollars ruled. The lawless and deadly mayhem was captured in the 2012 film A Hijacking in which a Danish freight vessel was captured by pirates and its captain murdered.

Pirate-hunting western warships belatedly dispatched to the region as part of Nato, US and European Union forces to pacify the pirates and end the hijacking and hostage-taking of western ships and their crews, seem to have won the battle.

Five years later, Eyl is a very different place. The pirates have gone, leaving the outpost to its fate. As with pretty much everywhere else in Somalia, there is an air of neglect with its historic buildings in disrepair. A tiny fort on the beach serves as a reminder that Eyl was once famous for something else – Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, the revered 19th-century jihadi and national poet, better known to British forces fighting him in the early 20th century as the Mad Mullah.

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