Somalia: Only America Feeds The Violence


October 4, 2007: With growing refugee and famine needs, the UN is having a difficult time raising additional money for food and other aid. The U.S. isn't being criticized, because this year, over 90 percent of the food, and other aid, that did show up, came from the United States. The problem is that few other nations want to commit scarce aid dollars to Somalia. The violence level and rapacious warlords make aid to Somalia seem wasteful, compared to other nations in need. However, this battle between the Transitional Government and the Islamic Courts involves only about two thirds of the population. The rest is controlled by other governments.

Northern Somalia, which has been relatively quiet since breaking away from Somalia in the 1990s to form Puntland (2.5 million people) and Somaliland (3.5 million), is now embroiled in a border war. Gunmen from both countries (or whatever, no one recognizes these breakaway areas) have been shooting at each other in the disputed area (the town of Las Ano, near the Ethiopian border). In a week of inconclusive fighting, there have been several dozen casualties.

The clan warfare in Mogadishu is being decided by Ethiopian and government troops driving people out of neighborhoods occupied by clans that support the Islamic Courts. Actually, those clans support control of Mogadishu, and dominating the local economy. The Transitional Government, representing clans from outside the city, are taking over. This can be seen in the chaos that has engulfed the Bakara Market, the largest business in the city. The local clans are destroying the market with violence and arson, rather than let the Transitional Government take control. As is usually the case in Somalia, any change of government is accompanied by much gunfire, bloodshed, and refugees fleeing. At this point, about 3,000 a week are being driven from the city. The government is using the threat of continued expulsions to get the Mogadishu clans to surrender. But there are extremist factions that insist on fighting to the death.

Ethiopia sent a battalion of infantry to Baidoa, to reinforce the Transitional Government forces there.

Somalia now has over a thousand UN trained police officers, with the recent graduation of a second class of 600 officers. The police academy is in Puntland, so many of the graduates stay there, with most of them going south to the chaos of Mogadishu and surrounding areas.


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