Somalia: Feeding the Fight

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August 21, 2007: Drought in the south has put over a million people at risk of starvation. Getting food aid in is complicated by clan feuds over dwindling resources (water and grazing land). Such strife is traditional when there is a drought, which is common in this part of the world. But the foreign aid groups trying to deliver free food to the starving is a relatively new feature, and the Somalis have adapted by regarding the aid groups are fare game for plunder, extortion and intimidation. That's how things are done in Somalia. Most of the food aid is paid for by the United States.

August 20, 2007: The fighting in Mogadishu shows the use of two different strategies. The government, and their Ethiopian allies, have more military power, and use it to search pro-terrorist neighborhoods for hostiles. These operations often encourage the civilians to flee the city. The terrorists fight back with roadside bombs, assassinations and hit and run attacks. The clans backing the Islamic radicals have turned this into a battle for survival, for the government (mainly representing clans from outside Mogadishu) is willing to drive the pro-Islamic radical (Islamic Courts) clans out of the city.

August 18, 2007: South of Mogadishu, a clan feud (a dispute over access to water) broke out into several fire fights, that caused nearly a hundred casualties, including at least twenty dead. The clans make their own rules, and are inclined to settle disputes with force. This fighting is not connected with the violence in Mogadishu, which features a different roster of clan rivalries. In addition, the Mogadishu violence includes some al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism elements. Some of the participants are trying to emulate Islamic militants fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. That means roadside bombs, which were rarely used in the past. One old technique has survived; assassination. There are constant attempts to kill government and clan officials. Just this week, a prominent clan chief, who has backed reconciliation talks, was shot dead near a Mosque by two gunmen.

August 17, 2007: The U.S. is threatening to put Eritrea on its list of "state sponsors of terrorism." This would make life more difficult for Eritrea, as the listing comes with economic and diplomatic sanctions. But the Eritrean government is so blinded by their hatred for Ethiopia that they appear ready to take the listing and continue their support for Islamic terrorists in Somalia.

August 16, 2007: Uganda has agreed to send another 250 soldiers to Somalia, as a training mission to upgrade the military skills of the Somali army (of the Transitional Government.) The other nations that promised peacekeepers for Somalia are holding back until the UN (via the U.S. and Europe) provide more money to equip and support the troops. There is some reluctance to hand out this money, as it tends to get stolen.

 

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