Somalia: This Is How We Roll Down The Road To Perdition


June 25, 2010:  Al Shabaab leaders are warning people in Somaliland to not vote in upcoming elections. Al Shabaab believes that democracy is un-Islamic and evil, and that good Moslems should have nothing to do with it. This is a common attitude among Islamic radicals. But in northern Somalia (Puntland and Somaliland), democracy has caught on, and is seen as a preferable alternative to the chaos and violence in the south.

Somali pirates are having a hard time dealing with new anti-piracy patrol tactics. The foreign warships are closely watching ports the pirates operate from, and stopping suspected mother ships, disarming the pirates and destroying their ship and speedboats. The pirates are put back on the beach. This prevents pirates from heading far out to sea, where there are fewer anti-piracy patrols, to seek targets. In the Gulf of Aden, more efficient patrolling and better tactics and techniques by merchant ships, has greatly reduced pirate success. Thus while pirate attacks have nearly tripled since last year, the number of ships taken is down 25 percent. But the money is still good, and more Somalis continue to join the ranks of the pirates.

The Transitional Government (TG) is negotiating with Hizbul Islam. This Islamic radical group is the smaller rival of al Shabaab, and less radical. The more radical members of Hizbul Islam are defecting to al Shabaab, so it makes sense that the less radical ones would try to cut a deal with the TG. Otherwise, an even smaller Hizbul Islam could be crushed by al Shabaab. Meanwhile, the TG is itself threatened with fragmentation as many members of the government strive to rearrange the deal that determines which clans get how many seats in the parliament. Somalis have a hard time compromising, and prefer to fight, which is the main reason the country is such a mess. Corruption is the other big problem. This was seen recently when hundreds of government soldiers, trained by foreign instructors, demonstrated at the presidential palace for back pay. The money had been stolen by government officials, who consider a government job as a license to steal. Donor nations have a hard time convincing officials that effective government cannot survive such attitudes.

Facing lots of hostility, al Shabaab has backed off on its efforts to stop people from watching TV or listening to radio coverage of the World Cup. Instead, the Islamic radicals are now hassling men without beards, demanding that they grow them.

June 22, 2010: The Netherlands has agreed to send one of its submarines for the anti-piracy patrol. A submarine can watch portions of the Somali coast, without the pirates know they are being observed. This makes it easier to detect new tactics by the pirates, and counter these moves more quickly.

June 19, 2010: Fighting around an army base in Mogadishu in the past few days has caused over a hundred casualties. Al Shabaab attacked, and was driven back.



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