Somalia: Victory Followed By Another Civil War

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September 6, 2014: With al Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane dead who his replacement is will say a lot about what al Shabaab will do next. Godane was an old-school Islamic terrorist, starting out with al Qaeda in Afghanistan during the 1990s. He was the one who shifted al Shabaab from working to take over Somalia to trying to be an international terror operation. This strategy was not a success and all al Shabaab was able to do was a few attacks in neighboring countries, mainly Kenya. Ordering more attacks in Kenya was not terribly difficult as there is already an ethnic Somali population there, mainly in the large coastal cities. Then there are over half a million Somali refugees that Kenya hosts in camps near the Somali border. Godane took over as head of al Shabaab in 2008 and in 2009 announced he was going international and pledging allegiance to al Qaeda. This caused some violent disagreements within al Shabaab and after killing or driving away dozens of senior dissenters, Godane began implementing his new strategy. Shortly after that the U.S. offered a $7 million reward for his capture. Since then there have been over a hundred Islamic terrorist attacks in Kenya killing nearly 400 people. The worst one was in 2013 when an attack on a shopping center by four al Shabaab gunmen left 67 dead. Al Shabaab concentrated on Kenya after 2011 because Kenyan troops moved into southern Somalia to stop the increasing lawlessness on their side of the border. There are still al Shabaab leaders unhappy with the terrorism strategy but al Shabaab will probably continue as it has because it is too weak to resume trying to conquer the country.

A UN audit found that most of the aid money spent in Somalis is still being stolen, or at least unaccounted for because Somali officials refuse to keep verifiable accounts of what they did with the money. This corruption is an old, and resistant to all solutions so far, problem.

The UN wants to withdraw its peacekeepers by 2o16, but that is dependent on some success in disarming the dozens of major clan and warlord militias. There over 500,000 firearms in Somalia, most of them in the hands of families and militias and taking most of them away, in order to neutralize the militias, is proving difficult. Without this disarmament, the civil war will likely break out again after the 22,000 peacekeepers depart because the Somali government is too corrupt and inept to maintain reliable security forces. Meanwhile the peacekeepers are spearheading a continuing effort to drive al Shabaab out of small interior towns and villages where they are still present. When al Shabaab is fragmented to the point where they are basically small groups of bandits, the local clan militias will be able to control their own territory again. This will mean the resumption of many clan wars (over land, theft and all sorts of crimes) that were largely interrupted when al Shabaab established itself as the supreme power in many areas. This sort of situation is common to many parts of the world, like Afghanistan and other African nations or regions.  No one has yet come up with a permanent solution that can be implemented quickly.

September 5, 2014: The U.S. military confirmed that they had indeed killed al Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane on the 2nd.

September 4, 2014: An al Shabaab Twitter account confirmed that their leader, Ahmed Godane died in the American missile attack on the 2nd.

September 3, 2014: Peacekeepers and Somali troops entered the town of Jalalaqsi, some 150 kilometers north of Mogadishu. Al Shabaab had long operated from this town but fled at the approach of the soldiers and peacekeepers.

The government announced an amnesty deal for al Shabaab members. Known leaders are not eligible but most other members are. This offer expires in 45 days.

September 2, 2014: an American UAV attacked an al Shabaab camp 245 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, killing six Islamic terrorists including, it was believed, their supreme leader (Ahmed Godane) and two other senior al Shabaab officials.

The government ordered media to not broadcast al Shabaab news, especially anything coming from the Islamic terrorist organization itself. The government has also becoming increasingly hostile (via arrests and violence) against any journalists that criticize the government. The problem with that is there is a lot of criticize. Corruption, mismanagement and all manner of bad behavior characterize the Somali government. Al Shabaab is equally, and even more violently, opposed to any media criticism.

August 31, 2014: In Mogadishu al Shabaab men attacked the military intelligence compound but failed. Seven of the attackers were killed along with five security personnel and civilian bystanders. The attackers were wearing army uniforms, which is common for attacks like this.

August 30, 2014: In the southeast (lower Shabelle region) peacekeepers and soldiers attacked the al Shabaab controlled town of Bulomarer, some 160 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu and eventually took it.

August 28, 2014: In the north (Somaliland) where there has been little violence for more than a decade fighting broke out between pro-government forces and a separatist clan militia leaving at least nine dead.

August 25, 2014: In central Somalia (the Bakool region) government forces forced al Shabaab forces out of the town of Tiyeglow and gives the government control of all of Bakool. Back in 2009 al Shabaab had come to Bakool and established a presence that lasted until now. Taking Tiyeglow leaves al Shabaab unable to extort transit fees from trucks using a main road.

August 24, 2014: Qatar has reopened its embassy in Mogadishu, the first time in over 20 years Qatar has had an embassy here. Nine other nations have embassies in Mogadishu (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, Britain and Yemen.)

August 21, 2014: In Mogadishu a roadside bomb left a policeman dead.

In Kenya police found the body of a Kenyan man who had been captured and beheaded by al Shabaab. The man was a Christian who was taken near the border with three Moslem companions (who were released on the 20th.)

August 20, 2014: Somalia has asked that no more peacekeepers from central or western Africa come to Somalia for a while. This is all about fear that the Ebola Virus outbreak in West Africa spreading to Somalia. Such a form of disease transmission via peacekeepers is not new or unique. In 2010 Haiti was hit with a new strain of Cholera that first appeared in Indonesia in 1961 and had spread around the world since then but never to Haiti. In fact, Haiti had never experienced any Cholera in all of its recorded history.  While Ebola Virus does not spread as rapidly as Cholera, it is more likely to be fatal. Ebola is named after the Ebola River in northern Congo and this is where the first cases were identified in 1976. There have been no cases in Somalia although there was an outbreak in nearby Uganda in 2007. That outbreak killed 158 while an earlier one in 2001 killed nearly 500. Disease is a huge problem in developing countries and Central Africa is one of the world’s “disease incubators.” Medical skills are scarce in most developing countries. The loss of medical personnel to an epidemic not only has immediate effects (ie, fewer doctors and nurses to treat victims), but the loss degrades long-term development efforts.

August 17, 2014: Mohamed Garfanji a retired, but still wanted (by Western governments) pirate gang leader was arrested in Mogadishu. There was no fight, despite the presence of several well-armed Garfanji bodyguards. Garfanji thought he was safe in Somalia, but it appears the U.S. was tracking him and played a role in the arrest.

August 16, 2014: In central Somalia (Beledweyne) a soldier died when his home was attacked by gunmen, who stole the soldiers’ assault rifle and then fled as other soldiers arrived. There was a brief gun battle, which left a civilian bystander dead. 

 

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