The Pirates of Puntland
New York- Jason Florio has a big photo essay in the current Winter 2010 issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review called The Pirate Port about the quasi ragtag Somaliland coast guard in Berbera and their dealings with pirates based out of Bossaso in neighboring Puntland. The whole issue of VQR is dedicated to Africa and seems pretty interesting. I saw the bold cover shot on the rack at Barnes & Noble and it caught my eye. The photo essay is pretty lush especially in a time when a lot of publications seem to cutting back on their photo budgets. I love that the article shows a different side of the struggle for Somalia than the Shabab/Ethiopia angle. It shows that Somalia, well the breakaway Somaliland region anyway, is a region that you can actually visit and tour around within reason. The Somalilanders who inherited some of the ideas of parliamentary democracy from the British who ran the region as a protectorate, have been running the area as an independent state since the fall of Siad Barre in 1991 but have obviously failed to get anyone to care outside of their own diaspora and the odd internationalist intellectual. This VQR is definitely worth a look for anyone tired of the same stories being run in the MSM.
More of Jason’s work can be seen on his revamped site here. Jason did an article last year for Men’s Journal called “The New War for Hearts and Minds” on Human Terrain Teams in Kapisa Province in Afghanistan that became pretty controversial for some reason (I think having to do with a subset of right-wing bloggers called “Mil (-itary) bloggers.”). There are more great photos on his site than were printed in the original article. Makes me wish I still had my photography site up….