Friday, February 27, 2009

State Department mum on pirate crisis

In an interview with David Evans from the State Department this evening, not many questions were answered about the ship bound for Iran that was seized by seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia at about 11:30 a.m. EST.

That’s despite an increasingly heated situation, with reports of gunfire aboard the ship, bodies thrown from the ship, American naval assets being moved to the area and statements issued from the Iranian government about a potential “catastrophe.”

Evans stated that State Department officials are closely tracking the ship, but did not have an exact location. Other sources, including a Russian executive officer aboard a ship following the MV Straat Malakka, said the ship was about 150 kilometres, or 90 miles from the pirate haven city of Eyl, Somalia.

He also stated that the origin of the ship is still in the process of being confirmed, though the Iranian government has confirmed to Gulf News Service that the ship is bound for Iran from Dar Es Salaam.

Evans said that there were unconfirmed rumors about what exactly happened so there will be no comment at this time.

Evans did comment on the latest report from the INN Web site about communication with the Iranian government stating that the US government communicates with Iran through the Swiss and that it will continue to use those diplomatic channels as it has in the past.

There has still been no contact made by the State Department with the pirates at this time adding that he can’t comment on other branches of government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has issued no comment. There has been no comment on the issue from Vice President Joe Biden or President Barack Obama.

He also stated that there was no knowledge of any violent course of action at this time, but that the US Navy CT-151 is moving in more closely to monitor the situation, which is a position taken “purely on the defensive,” only to observe the situation.

When asked whether there was any link between terrorists and pirates he said that the issue has often been very shady and that there are no specific international laws to govern their behavior.

He also stated that there was no knowledge of this incident being involved with terrorism and will continue to be treated as an act of piracy.

A spokesman for CentCom stated the U.S. command for the Middle East does not know who is on the ship or the status of the crew, despite reports from Russian naval officials in the area that bodies had been thrown overboard.

Evans of the State Department stated that his agency is still monitoring the situation and does not know the contents of the ship at this time, but with the CT151 in the area with the anti- piracy fleet, State will “will do whatever is necessary to resolve the matter."

When asked about why the Iranian government is stating that this could potentially be a “catastrophe,” Evans replied that there was no comment.

When asked whether terrorists were involved he said that they were still monitoring the situation.

Warning!

This is part of a foreign policy simulation for the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce. The events depicted are not actually happening.