Somalia: Seeking the Mystery Ship

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December 4, 2007: The fighting in Mogadishu continues, with Ethiopian troops continuing to empty neighborhoods that give shelter (and recruits) for the Islamic militants. Over a thousand people a day are fleeing the city, for improvised refugee camps on the outskirts. The fighting, mostly in Mogadishu, has killed over 5,000 people so far this year, and created over half a million refugees. All this was the result of a civil war between a religious, and a secular alliance. The religious group, the Islamic Courts, got involved with al Qaeda, which was a big mistake. The secular group, the Transitional Government, spent several years hammering out a power sharing deal. The Islamic Courts refused to participate in this, and insisted it was God's Will that the Islamic Courts run the country. Welcome to Somalia.

The fighting in Mogadishu hides the fact that the city has more government now, than at any time in the past 15 years. This can be seen by the return of UN food programs, for the first time since the early 1990s. In that time, UN food programs have operated mainly in rural areas. The UN is having a hard time getting nations to donate to these operations. For the last fifteen years, most of the aid money has come from the United States.

Meanwhile, off the coast, over a dozen foreign warships are searching for the mysterious pirate "mother ship." This vessel is believed to be one of the small freighters, or large fishing boat, that supports the speedboats (full of gunmen) who do the actual attacks on foreign ships. The mother ship is believed to exist because pirate speedboats have been spotted too far out to sea, to have gotten there themselves.

 

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