Somalia: Do Nothing, and Be Quiet About It


May 24, 2007: Ethiopian commanders estimate they killed up to 300 gunmen in March and 600 in April during fighting in Mogadishu. Some 150 gunmen were taken prisoner, including some they describe as foreign Islamic terrorists. In the wake of the April 26 ceasefire, the government wants to hold a peace conference next month, but it having trouble raising the $7.5 million needed to pay for all the facilities and goodies. Donor nations are rather discouraged about all things Somali. The Islamic Courts will be at the conference, sort of. Some clans can send Islamic Courts members as clan representatives. Meanwhile, the Islamic Courts are apparently conducting a campaign of terror attacks using roadside bombs and assassins.

May 23, 2007: A freelance TV crew was released by police in Mogadishu, after being held for six weeks, and brought before a judge to explain themselves. The three man crew was arrested at the airport, on suspicion of being terrorist sympathizers.

May 22, 2007: There is a disagreement over how many people fled Mogadishu in the last two months because of the fighting. The UN says it was 400,000, and is trying to raise money to take care of that many. Ethiopia, whose troops did most of the fighting, estimates there were only 80,000 refugees. The Somali Transitional Government, which governs, sort of, Mogadishu, says there were only 40,000 refugees. Since most of those who fled the fighting went to live with kin outside the city, there are no large refugee camps where one can get an accurate count. The U.S. Navy issued a warning to ships, to stay away from the Somali coast because of the pirate danger.

May 21, 2007: The UN has suspended food shipments, by ship, to Somalia, in an effort to force the U.S. Navy to take action against the pirates. The UN hasn't come right out and demanded that American warships intervene, but the Americans are the only ones with the capabilities and will. Some other European navies have warships in the area, but they are even less likely to get involved. The media would be all over any operations against the pirates, and the sailors risk getting accused of killing innocent civilians. Most nations are risk averse when it comes to Somalia, thus the safest thing to do is nothing, and be quiet about it as well.

May 20, 2007: A roadside bomb, apparently intended for the mayor of Mogadishu, exploded prematurely, and killed two bystanders instead. In Kismayo, one of the UN guards who was sent out in boats yesterday to fight pirates trying to take a food ship, died of his wounds.

May 19, 2007: A ship that just delivered food aid to the southern port of Kismayo, was attacked pirates as it headed south again. The ship escaped the pirates, with the help of two boatloads of local gunmen hired to protect aid ships, but the incident was noted by shipping companies that move food aid into Somalia for the UN. There have been eight pirate attacks so far this year, compared to ten last year, and 35 in 2005.

May 18, 2007: Uganda plans to withdraw its 1,600 peacekeepers in September. They withdraw sooner, as the African Union has not been able to raise enough money to keep the Ugandans in Somalia through the Summer. In Uganda, the Somalia operation is unpopular, not just because the peacekeepers are being attacked, but because the other African nations that said they would send peacekeepers, have not done do.


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