This week’s Clinton Global Initiative conference in Morocco will feature a speech by K’naan Warsame, a prominent hip-hop artist and Somali pirate advocate.
K’naan, whose hit songs include "Wavin’ Flag (Coca-Cola Celebration Remix)" and "Wavin’ Flag (Coca-Cola Spanish Celebration Remix)," has expressed support in the past for the pirates wreaking havoc off the coast of Somalia, where he was born.
"A lot of people don't like me for saying this but I'm in support of the pirates," K'naan said in a 2009 radio interview, arguing that piracy had "actually helped us clear our environment" by holding ships for ransom, including some that dump toxic waste off the Somali coast.
"The truth is, if you ask any Somali, if getting rid of the pirates only means the continuous rape of our coast by unmonitored Western Vessels, and the producing of a new cancerous generation, we would all fly our pirate flags high," he wrote in a Huffington Post op-ed published that same year. "As is apparent these days, one man's pirate is another man's coast guard."
The CGI conference in Morocco has been the subject of increased scrutiny following revelations that it is being financed by a generous donation (at least $1 million) from a phosphate mining company owned by the Moroccan government. Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea Clinton are listed as featured speakers at the event; Moroccan King Mohammed VI is expected to attend.
Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton praised Morocco last year in a statement announcing the conference, describing the country as "a vital hub for economic and cultural exchange."
That sentiment appears incongruous with the statements issued by the State Department during Clinton’s tenure, which complained of "continuing human rights problems" in the country, such as "arbitrary arrests and corruption in all branches of government," as well as "discrimination against women and girls; trafficking in persons; and child labor."