The discussion of Somali piracy predominately characterizes it as an aberration, the product of circumstances exclusive to Somalia. By this view, there is little chance that Somali-style piracy will emerge elsewhere. However, it is not only geographic opportunity and weak goverance that facilitates the pirates’ success: Their conceptually innovative -- and exportable -- approach has also played a role.

The Somali Piracy Model: Coming to a Sea Near You

Over the past decade, the western Indian Ocean unexpectedly emerged as a hotbed for maritime crime as pirates -- safe-havened in Somalia -- menaced seafarers as far east as the Maldives. Shipping companies have been hit hard, with one estimate placing the direct costs of Somali piracy at $5.5 billion in 2011. Despite a multinational naval flotilla deployed to counter the pirates, attacks continued to grow last year.

The discussion of Somali piracy predominately characterizes it as an aberration -- a situation made possible by a failed Somali state that abuts a major shipping route. Viewed through such a prism, there is little chance that Somali-style piracy will emerge in any other region. ...

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