November 8, 2012: Most of central Somalia is controlled by bandits, warlords, clan militias, and scattered groups of al Shabaab men. In other words, there is no government presence in this region and it’s going to take months of effort by peacekeepers and government troops to gain some kind of control over this area. Meanwhile, remnants of al Shabaab in Mogadishu and Kismayu are trying to wage a terrorism campaign against the government and peacekeepers. This is causing some casualties but getting a lot of al Shabaab men killed or arrested. Somali leaders know that they will never completely eliminate al Shabaab because even in the best of times Somalia is full of bandits, gangsters, and religious fanatics. It’s always been a wild and violent place. Then there’s the corruption, which is massive and endemic. It drives the foreign aid agencies nuts and cripples many aid and peacekeeping efforts.
November 7, 2012: The UN has extended the Somali peacekeeping operation by another four months. The UN force has 17,700 personnel, most of them armed peacekeepers. The UN refused Somali requests to lift the arms embargo and establish an AU coast guard. There is fear that lifting the arms embargo would let the wrong people get weapons because of the rampant corruption in the Somali government. This was why the peacekeeping mission was not extended the usual 12 months, as the UN wants to take a closer look at the corruption problem, which has long hampered peacekeeping and foreign aid efforts. While Somalia is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, African nations in general have major problems with corruption and the AU operations in particular have to be monitored carefully to keep down the misbehavior.
In Mogadishu a suicide car bomb went off outside parliament, killing the bomber and a soldier.
November 6, 2012: In Mogadishu soldiers and police carried out a massive house-to-house search for al Shabaab men. Dozens were arrested and many weapons were found and seized.
A seven minute video appeared on a terrorist web site in which al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri called for Moslems to support al Shabaab in its guerilla war against peacekeepers and government forces in Somalia. This was another way of telling al Shabaab to hang on, for they were on a Mission From God and success was assured. It doesn’t always work that way but all al Qaeda can offer its followers these days is hope and violence.
November 5, 2012: Two fishermen from the Seychelles islands, taken last November off the Seychelles, were released by pirates (who claim a ransom of $3 million was paid).
A roadside bomb in the port of Kismayu killed four peacekeepers and wounded several other people.
November 4, 2012: The new government tried again to form a cabinet, this time going for a smaller (ten members) group. This would appear to be trying to satisfy foreign aid donors, as it includes two women. The previous attempt to form a government failed because many groups were dissatisfied at their representation. This time around deals appear to have been made to share the loot without including control of miniscule ministries. The new ministers still have to be approved by parliament.
Someone threw a grenade at a Kenyan church near the Somali border, killing a policeman and wounding 14 civilians. Two similar attacks last July killed 14. The area near the Somali border is inhabited by many ethnic Somalis and Moslems, some who are al Shabaab supporters.
Al Shabaab fired some mortar shells at ships in the port of Kismayu.
November 3, 2012: In Mogadishu two suicide bombers were stopped from entering a Western style restaurant frequented by expatriates. The two bombers and a security guard died.
November 2, 2012: Uganda threatened to pull its peacekeepers out of Somalia if the UN did not withdraw charges that Uganda was supporting the M23 rebels in Congo. By supporting M23, Ugandan politicians get a cut of the illegal mining operations controlled by M23. It’s unlikely that Uganda would follow through as the revenue from the UN for over 5,000 peacekeepers in Somalia is considerable, as are additional benefits. African leaders do not like being called out about their corrupt practices.
November 1, 2012: Government troops cleared al Shabaab out of the port town of Marko, which is 100 Kilometers (62 miles) northeast of Mogadishu. On October 28th a general and four other soldiers were ambushed and killed outside Marko.
October 31, 2012: Peacekeepers and government troops made another sweep of Kismayu, looking for al Shabaab men and arrested over 400 suspects.
October 30, 2012: In northeastern Kenya al Shabaab ambushed a patrol, killing one policeman and wounding another. To the north, in Kismayu, someone threw a grenade into a market killing one civilian and wounding four.