An outrageous act, which will trigger an international crackdown. That is the reaction from Saudi Arabia today after confirmation that a Saudi oil tanker hijacked off Kenya has been forced to sail to Somalia. The Sirius Star was on its way to the US carrying two million barrels of crude oil.
Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister, said: “This outrageous act by the pirates, I think will only reinforce the resolve of the countries of the Red Sea and internationally to fight piracy, which is against everybody. Like terrorism, it is a disease that has to be eradicated.”
The ship is now anchored off the Somali port of Harardhere. This area is known as a lawless, pirates’ haven, with Somalia having no effective government. Western navies have already been stepping up patrols here.
NATO spokesman James Appathurai said: “Already a few times Nato ships have intervened. Sometimes after being fired upon they have used force to repel attacks by pirates. So, could they have done something in that scenario had they been there – it’s not impossible. What they don’t have is the mandate to do is to board ships that have already been hijacked”.
The owners of the ship say the 25 crew on board are safe and well, and it is reported that negotiations are underway with the pirates. There have been close to 100 attacks off Somalia this year, and 36 hijackings.