Somalia: A Failure To Communicate


April 20, 2016: The government wants more money from foreign donors for the security forces. The government points out that al Shabaab is still active and that obviously more must be spent on security. The donor nations point out that much of the money currently provided for security is stolen or otherwise misused. At this point the discussion ends as the Somalis are more tolerant of corruption, especially if they are the ones getting paid. The majority of Somalis, who do not benefit from the corruption, are unhappy with the aftereffects of the corruption but many would also feel entitled to a large “taste” of the foreign money if they had access. What the foreigners call corruption the Somalis call doing what you must to survive. This is a problem throughout Africa and is more than a failure to communicate but a widespread failure to understand that a lack of corruption pays off eventually, in a big way.

Noting the success of corrupt African officials during the Cold War, who could get past corruption charges by threatening to invite foreign aid from the other superpower, Somalia has asked Russia for military aid. During the Cold War the United States and the Soviet Union (Russia) were the only two superpowers and the African tyrants were infamous for their willingness to play the superpowers off against each other.

April 19, 2016: In Mogadishu police, acting on a tip, launched a major counter-terror operations that led to the seizure of a suicide car bomb, three AK-47s and other terrorist items. Police also arrested more than a hundred people for planning or supporting al Shabaab terrorist operations in the city. Apparently several attacks were being planned. While there are many al Shabaab supporters in the city there are even more residents who oppose the Islamic terrorist groups and fear getting hurt by an al Shabaab bomb or gunfire. Most of the casualties in these attacks are civilian bystanders. So in self-defense many civilians are willing to use their cell phone to call in and report suspicious activity. As a result of these tips there are police raids and arrests several times a week.

April 18, 2016: In Mogadishu al Shabaab used a car bomb and gunfire in an attack on some government officials. The attack failed but three civilians and one of the attackers were killed by the explosion and gunfire. Police quickly responded to the attack.

April 17, 2016: In central Somalia (Galguduud) a local al Shabaab commander accepted the amnesty offered by the government and surrendered.

April 16, 2016: Some 80 kilometers south of Mogadishu peacekeepers opened fire on a car that was approaching a checkpoint at high speed and ignoring orders to stop. Fearing it was a suicide car bomb the troops shot dead the four people in the car before it reached the checkpoint. It turned out the four people in the car were innocent but who, for reasons unknown, would not stop. The peacekeepers apologized for the incident but did not promise it would not happen again.

April 15, 2016: Some 750 kilometers north of Mogadishu (Galmudug) Puntland security forces cleared a large area of al Shabaab men. A day of fighting and searches left 23 Islamic terrorists dead and another 22 captured. These al Shabaab men were remnants of a larger group that was defeated in March by Galmudug clan militias. Galmudug is an autonomous region of Somalia just south of the self-declared state of Puntland. Galmudug was formed in 2006 and has a population of about 1.8 million. Northern Somalia has been better governed since breaking away from Somalia in the 1990 to form Puntland (2.5 million people) and Somaliland (3.5 million). The other two-thirds of the Somali population to the south, has been in perpetual chaos since 1990 and the new government there is still a work-in-progress.

April 12, 2016: Over the last two days there were two American UAV missile attacks in the south that left about twelve al Shabaab men dead. These were described as "self-defense strikes" as their purpose was to disrupt al Shabaab efforts to prepare attacks on peacekeepers and soldiers.

April 11, 2016: In Mogadishu an al Shabaab suicide car bomb went off outside a restaurant popular with government officials. Five people died and seven were wounded.

April 7, 2016: In central Somalia (Galguduud) four al Shabaab men were killed when they clashed with soldiers and peacekeepers. This clash was part of the aftermath of several recent al Shabaab defeats in the area.

In Mogadishu al Shabaab fired five mortar shells at the presidential compound but missed and hit a nearby residential neighborhood killing two civilians and wounding 13.

April 6, 2016: In the northwest (Middle Shabelle region 120 kilometers north of Mogadishu) soldiers and peacekeepers drove al Shabaab out of another town (Aden-Yabal) without a fight. Al Shabaab men in the area are mainly concerned with staying alive, not fighting.

April 5, 2016: In the south peacekeeper and army operations plus American UAV attacks managed to kill seven key al Shabaab personnel in the least week. The dead included the al Shabaab senior commander and his deputy as well as a commander for al Shabaab forces in Leego, a town long fought over by al Shabaab and government forces. Also killed was the chief bomb builder (a Yemeni), the man in charge of training (a Kenyan) and one of the senior religious leaders. The head of the al Shabaab internal security force and a senior intelligence official were also killed. All these men are difficult to replace and their loss leaves al Shabaab a much less capable organization.

April 4, 2016: For the fourth time in a month a warship on anti-piracy patrol near Somalia stopped and searched a ship and found a large shipment of weapons being smuggled to Shia rebels in Yemen. The last two times it was an American destroyer that caught the boatload of weapons. The shipment before that was found by a French frigate and the first one, on March 7th by an Australian warship 300 kilometers off the coast of Oman. In each case the cargo on the fishing boats of wooden dhows consisted of over a thousand AK-47s plus some machine-guns and lots of ammo. At first it was unclear if the weapons (which seemed to be from Iran) were headed to Shia rebels in Yemen or black market weapons dealers in Somalia. Further investigation confirmed that all four shipments were headed to Shia rebels in northern Yemen. Some shipments are still getting to Somalia because the arms markets there have not complained of shortages of product.

March 31, 2016: In the north (Puntland) an al Shabaab suicide bomber killed a prominent businessman and five bodyguards outside a hotel. In central Somalia (Beledweyne) an explosion in a mosque killed two and wounded fifteen. This attack appears to have been an accident as survivors reported that someone dropped a grenade by accident during prayers.

March 30, 2016: In the capital (Mogadishu) six civilians were killed in a drive by shooting. Two of the victims were Turks, who may have been the targets. Al Shabaab opposes foreign aid, even by Moslem nations like Turkey. Elsewhere near the capital four people died (three of them civilians) when two groups of soldiers got into a gunfight with each other over personal issues.




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