Oh what fun it is to be a pirate these days! Of course, there are no Spanish galleons loaded with gold doubloons, but Saudi oil tankers loaded with crude oil worth $100 million isn’t a bad substitute. True, oil isn’t as fungible as gold, but just like people, it can be ransomed:

Somali pirates who hijacked the Sirius Star, a Saudi-owned supertanker, are demanding $25m for the ship’s return, according to Mohamed Said, one of the pirates.

“We are demanding $25m from the Saudi owners of the tanker. We do not want long-term discussions to resolve the matter,” he said on Thursday.

“The Saudis have 10 days to comply, otherwise we will take action that could be disastrous.” […]

Somali pirates have now seized three ships off the coast of the Horn of Africa in the past three days. […]

Amid the anarchy and lawlessness in most parts of Somalia, northern coastal towns like Haradhere, Eyl and Bossaso, the so-called pirate economy is thriving, due to the money pouring in from pirate ransoms that have reached $30 million this year alone.

With eight ships being hijacked in the past two weeks, the IMB’s piracy reporting centre has described the situation as “spiralling out of control”.

Which begs the question: with so many US naval vessels in the region, how exactly was this situation allowed to get to this point? Exactly what does the most powerful Navy in the world have to do right now that’s more important than keeping the shipping lanes open? I thought the war in Iraq was all but won, correct? I guess Bush is a lamer lame duck than we thought.