Somalia: Islamic Forces Gain Strength


March 29, 2006: A week of fighting in and around Mogadishu caused over 300 casualties (about a third of them dead). This is three times the losses suffered from militia fighting last month. The Islamic Courts attempt to take Mogadishu failed. A ceasefire has been agreed upon, with the help of UN negotiators. The ceasefire won't last long, as the Islamic Courts are increasingly popular, especially as a counterbalance to the cruel and capricious rule of the warlords.


Two governments have evolved over the last fifteen years of anarchy. On one side there are the businessmen, who provide what services there are (including cell phones), and the warlords they pay off for protection. The warlords need the services, which includes running the port of Maan, the only real port left operating in the country. The Islamic Courts militias are more of a grass roots law & order operation, that seeks to overcome the warlords with Islamic law. While the Islamic Courts are sympathetic to Islamic terrorists, they do not openly support them. The warlords have obtained some help from Western counter-terrorist agencies by forming a "counter-terrorist coalition" (Alliance for Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism) to fight the Islamic Courts. Some businessmen and warlords are allied with the Islamic Courts, but most Somali strongmen will not submit to the authority of Islamic clerics. 


March 27, 2006: Several thousand civilians fled the fighting in Mogadishu, with nearly a thousand of them crossing the border into Kenya. 


March 26, 2006: The port of Maan (outside Mogadishu) is functioning again, still under the control of warlord backed businessmen. There appears to be a ceasefire between the warlord and Islamic Courts fighters. 


March 25, 2006: Several hundred Islamic Courts gunmen tried to seize the port of Maan, and the airport outside Mogadishu. Their attacks failed. 


March 23, 2006: Three days of fighting between Islamic Courts and warlord gunmen have caused nearly 200 casualties. The warlords, and businessmen



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