The Lootable Resource on Africa's Horn:: Why are there no pirates in Northwest Somalia? And why are they everywhere else?
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In this thesis I wish to examine the underlying mechanisms that caused the onset of piracy in Somalia. Since the 1990s piracy has spread like wildfire from the Northeast of Somalia and Southwards. Yet it has failed to take root in the Northwest. Why are there no pirates there? And why are they everywhere else? To explain the onset of piracy I introduce conflict study literature on lootable resources and actors in conflict. I propose that the concepts of lootability and obstructability enable us to understand why, when and how individuals and groups decide to violently appropriate international shipping. The presence of weak institutional authority, economic marginalization and a heavy reliance on artisanal fishing appear to be important contributors to the presence of piracy. My main conclusion is, furthermore, that while the precise activity of hunting down and hijacking is a new phenomenon, the activity of looting international shipping and demanding ransom is no stranger to the shores of the Northeast.