US Marine General Thomas Waldhauser has said that famine could be a major cause of the re-emergence of piracy off the Somalian coast around the Horn of Africa. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis was visiting an important military base in Djibouti as part of a week-long trip to the Middle East and Africa. The US uses the base in Djibouti as a launch pad for operations in Yemen and Somalia. “The bottom line is there have been a half dozen or so incidents,” Waldhauser said at a press conference while standing alongside Mattis that one reason for the increase was famine and drought in the region since some vessels targeted were carrying food and oil. Mattis said that the situation was being watched but that at the moment he did not expect a US military response to the surge in piracy.