By Jason Moore

THE Spanish government took the unusual step this week of paying in excess of 3.5 million dollars for the release of the crew of a Spanish fishing vessel held by pirates off Somalia. I say, unusual, because I thought that there was an unwritten code which said that governments would never pay for the release of people kidnapped by pirates.

Now, I am not fully aware of all the details, but I suspect that the move by the Spanish government has not been well received by some of Spain´s coalition allies who are trying to fight the pirate threat. It could be argued also that Spain has also puts its vessels in the area at even greater risk because the pirates now know that the Spanish government will pay a ransom if it is demanded. It was obviously a difficult decision for the Spanish government and Prime Minister Zapatero was quick to say during a press conference following news of the release that Spain had done the right thing. He may think so, but others will doubt it. If the war against piracy is to be won then all nations must stand firm. Any cracks in the coalition will quickly be exploited by the pirates. If ransoms are to be paid then the whole anti-piracy operation perhaps needs to be rethought and re-written.

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