December 18, 2008

The US government said Wednesday that it believes a new UN Security Council resolution on Somalia authorizes air strikes against pirates in Somali territory.

The resolution “authorizes states cooperating with the Somali Transitional Federal Government to extend counter-piracy efforts to include potential operations in Somali territorial land and air space, to suppress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea,” the State Department said in a statement.

The 15-member Security Council unanimously approved Tuesday a new resolution authorizing for one year international military operations on Somali territory in agreement with the transitional government.


However, contrary to an earlier draft, the final version of resolution 1851 does not explicitly say Somali air space can be used.

“The resolution urges countries to establish an international cooperation mechanism as a common point of contact for counter-piracy activities near Somalia,” the State Department said in response to a reporter’s question to clarify the situation.

It also urges countries to pursue “efforts to enhance the judicial capacity of regional states to combat piracy, including the judicial capacity to prosecute pirates,” according to the statement.

“We believe this resolution marks an important step forward in the international community’s efforts to suppress and prevent acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia,” it said.

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