March 5, 2012: An effort to determine what the TNG (Transitional National Government) has done with its money has revealed that nearly all the $58 million the TNG received last year was taken by various TNG officials or allied warlords and not accounted for. Some of the cash was used to pay TNG troops and warlord or clan militias (working for various TNG leaders). About half the money came from Arab nations while another 40 percent of the income was collected in the form of various taxes and fees, plus $3.7 million in cash, apparently intended for pirates but seized by TNG troops while the aircraft carrying it landed in Mogadishu. That cash is otherwise unaccounted for and so is any faith in Somali leaders being able to cope with massive corruption and government mismanagement. Less than two percent of the TNG cash went to taking care of Somalis.
Most Western nations refuse to donate directly to the TNG unless there is some fiscal controls to limit the corruption. Over a billion dollars a year of foreign aid not under the control of the TNG is provided to Somalis by foreign aid groups. However, these organizations are usually forced, at gunpoint, to pay millions to assure security and to limit the theft of aid.
While Kenyan troops are seizing control of more territory in southern Somalia, they are losing control over the Dadaab refugee complex in northeastern Kenya. Over the last two decades nearly a million Somalis have come here seeking help. About half a million of these refugees remain, and Kenyan police are increasingly overwhelmed by the growing power of armed gangs within the camp complex. Some of these gangs belong to al Shabaab, but most are just gangsters stealing from other Somalis and the foreign relief organizations that provide free food and other aid. The foreigners are increasingly the target of gang attacks because the aid outfits have more to steal. Kenya has been told that foreign aid groups will withdraw from Dadaab if they don't receive better protection. The Kenyan government has come under growing pressure from Kenyans living near Dadaab to close the camps and send the Somalis back to Somalia. This is largely because Somalis have, for centuries, seen Kenyans as prey, not neighbors. The numerous Somali raids have not been forgotten and the friction between the refugees and local Kenyans has grown every year.
The Somali pirates continue to have a hard time. The fleet of warships patrolling the region has become adept at spotting which seagoing fishing ships are legit and which are acting as mother ships for pirates. This has made it much more difficult for the pirates to find and attack merchant ships. And when they do attack, they often encounter an armed guard that fires back.
March 3, 2012: On the outskirts of Mogadishu AU (African Union) and government forces took an al Shabaab base (Maslah) that had been in use for over three years. Two AU peacekeepers were wounded. This is considered the last major al Shabaab base in or near Mogadishu. Elsewhere in Mogadishu a suicide car bomber apparently set off his explosives prematurely, killing only himself.
March 2, 2012: Over a hundred al Shabaab gunmen have moved into Puntland and attacked local troops. This was done as part of an alliance with a Puntland warlord. Al Shabaab has long skirmished with Puntland soldiers and clan militias but this is the most determined advance. This time the Islamic terrorists are operating along the north (Gulf of Aden) coast of Puntland. Al Shabaab is apparently making this move to disrupt oil and gas exploration deals the Puntland government has made. Exploration efforts began two months ago.
February 29, 2012: In the southwest al Shabaab gunmen attacked the town of Garbaharey, which they had recently lost to a local clan militia and TNG troops. The attack was repulsed.
February 28, 2012: In the south al Shabaab attacked a Kenyan army convoy. The Kenyans and local Somali allies fought back, killing five al Shabaab men, including the leader. Two Somali militiamen were wounded.
February 27, 2012: In Mogadishu a roadside bomb went off near where a football game was being played, killing three spectators. The bomb was apparently set off accidentally.
February 25, 2012: An American UAV used a missile to kill four al Shabaab leaders south of Mogadishu (Lower Shabelle).