Somalia: Taking Sides


May 2,2008: The rains are late, and another crop failure is likely. Feeding the people left starving will be difficult because of the fighting between the clans. The majority of clans are just out for themselves, and loosely aligned with the Transitional National Government (TNG). A smaller, and more disciplined group of clans, supports the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). Many NGOs favor the ICU, which is more ruthless and disciplined, and more likely to maintain the peace with their Taliban-like tactics. As it is, the NGOs supplying food and medical aid are increasingly being robbed, raided and looted by everyone but the Ethiopian troops and African Union peacekeepers.

May 1, 2008: Aden Hashi Ayro, the senior al Qaeda leader in Somalia, was killed by a U.S. smart bomb, along with nine of his followers. Ayro led an armed group that was rampaging around central Somalia, attacking police and soldiers in towns, then driving off. The ICU protested that this would make peace talks more difficult, and many NGOs supported the ICU in this respect.

April 30, 2008: The foreign oil exploration company that was going to begin operations off Puntland this Summer, has delayed this until the pirates are eliminated.

April 28, 2008: The UN accuses Eritrea of using a Boeing 707 air transport to fly in 13 loads of weapons (over 100 tons worth). This included surface to air missiles. Eritrea denies breaking the UN arms embargo by supplying Islamic Courts Union (ICU) fighters with arms. Meanwhile, in northern Somalia (Puntland), seven pirates, arrested five days ago, were convicted of piracy and sentenced to life in prison. One or two warlords in Puntland are supporting piracy operations off the northeast coast of Somalia. Several other warlords along the south coast also support piracy. There are several larger pirate ships, which can carry speedboats several hundred kilometers out, to where ships feel they are safe. This is where most of the recent pirate attacks have taken place, and why the UN is trying to pass a resolution authorizing Western nations to hunt down and destroy the pirates. That will not be so easy, as you have to destroy a lot of pirate speedboats, and the larger "motherships." That's difficult to do because of all the Somali fishing boats along the coast. Going ashore and capturing the pirates isn't easy, as there are plenty of places to hide.

April 27, 2008: Pirates freed a Spanish fishing boat, and its 26 man crew, after a ransom of $1.2 million was paid.

April 25, 2008: Leftist NGOs are siding with Islamic groups when it comes to accusations of atrocities. The Islamic groups are the most unpredictable and dangerous, and it's a good idea to try and get into their good graces. Fighting in Mogadishu in the last week killed over a hundred, and caused over 6,000 civilians to flee. The clans loyal to the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) continue to get driven out of the city, and have become a major refugee problem when they camp out along the loads leading inland.

April 24, 2008: Pirates are demanding $1.6 million in ransom to release a Spanish fishing boat and its crew.


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