Somalia: Time to Stop and Talk

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April 10, 2007: Eritrea, and its ally Iran, are trying to use diplomacy and propaganda to get Ethiopian troops out of Somalia. Eritrea is mainly interested in embarrassing its old enemy Ethiopia, while Iran is keen on throwing the Islamic radicals in Somalia a lifeline. The ceasefire in Mogadishu is holding, but mainly because the Islamic Courts clans now know that the Ethiopian troops will fight by Somali rules (very violent, and nothing is forbidden). Since the Ethiopians are better armed and trained, the clan irregulars are at a big disadvantage. Time to stop and talk.

April 9, 2007: About a hundred gunmen from Somaliland and Puntland fought over a border dispute. There were at least four casualties, including one dead. April 7, 2007: In a surprise move, a senior U.S. diplomat visited Somalia to try and convince the various factions to make peace. There is hope, because the clans in the north have had peace for nearly a decade, although they had to establish two breakaway states, Somaliland and Puntland, to do it. Somalis are not noted for their ability to get along. The U.S. is offering $100 million in aid if the Somali clans will make peace. While this is basically a bribe, the problem is that, once bought, the clan leaders tend not to stay bought for long. The U.S. has not sent one of its diplomats into Somalia since 1994. April 6, 2007: Pirates have released a ship carrying UN food relief. The ship was held for over a month, while the ransom was negotiated. Another group of pirates have also released an Indian ship, held for a week after it was seized off Mogadishu. This vessel was carrying consumer goods for Somali merchants. April 4, 2007: A ceasefire in Mogadishu has allowed over a hundred dead bodies to be removed from the streets.

 

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