Somalia: Falling Down and Falling Apart


December 22, 2005: The efforts of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to create a unified government for Somalia have been more or less fruitless. Not only are the various warlords who control much of the country unwilling to give up any power, but the northern break-away regions of Somaliland and Puntland, which have enjoyed relative stability for several years now, see no reason to become tied to a corpse.

One result of this is that Italy, the former colonial authority, appears to be inclined to cease supporting the TFG and seek another resolution to the chaos that engulfs much of Somalia. As Italy's voice carries considerable influence on EU policies toward Somalia, this could signal the end of the TFG. In this regard, representatives of the Italian government are apparently discussing future policies toward Somalia with other EU governments and the US.

Meanwhile, perhaps in emulation of Somaliland and Puntland, local tribal and district leaders in the southwestern region along the Juba River, have established a regional authority, which has actually taken some action to curb the pirates operating along the coast.

December 21, 2005: The Transitional Federal Government has established, with UN help, a police academy in the northeast. The first class of 150 cadets are undergoing training. The three month course will produce professional police. Eventually, it is hoped, the police will replace warlord militia and vigilante groups.

December 18, 2005: There has been a gun battle between two warlord militias (the Juba Valley Alliance, or JVA and National Volunteer Coast Guard or NVCG). At least two people have died. The men were fighting over ransom collected for the release of ships captured by pirates. The dispute is actually a little more complicated than that. The JVA had taken money from foreign fishing boat captains, and told the foreigners they could fish unmolested off Somalia. But the NVCG claimed that the fishing boats were in coastal waters controlled by them. So the NVCG seized the three boats and their 48 crewmen. Eventually, $150,000 in ransom was paid. Now the two warlords are fighting over who gets how much money. Or something like that. Details are often fuzzy by the time they get out of the country.

In the southwest, a dispute over trees (used for making charcoal), left seven dead and twelve wounded.

December 14, 2005: Relief organizations are trying to raise $174 million for desperate, and often starving, Somalis. But it's a hard sell. Despite a drought in southern Somalia, and two million people in need of food aid, most donors are not eager to send money to Somalia. The inability of the Somalis to form a government, and establish rule of law, is the major reason. Bad publicity from pirate attacks along the Somali coast has not helped.




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