Somalia: Islamic Courts Fear Getting The Zarqawi Treatment

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June 13, 2006: The Islamic Courts victory in Mogadishu was much less than it appeared to be. The Islamic Courts gunmen were not able to take control of the entire city, with about a third of urban area still controlled by tribal militias. Moreover, the warlord gunmen were not killed or captured in large numbers. Most of them simply fled, and are regrouping outside the city. If the warlords still have cash, to buy fuel, ammo and loyalty, they can keep fighting. Apparently the U.S. is still supplying the cash. As a reflection of all that, the Islamic Courts are asking that foreign peacekeepers, especially American Special Forces teams, with air controllers that can direct smart bomb attacks, stay out of the country. The recent death of al Qaeda leader Zarqawi, in Iraq, has made an impression. Especially because the video of the smart bomb attack, and its aftermath, have been widely distributed over the Internet, and seen by Islamic Courts leadership.

June 11, 2006: Several hundred Islamic Courts gunmen, traveling in gun trucks and other vehicles, are moving north towards Jowhar.

June 9, 2006: Kenyan police are seeking out and expelling any defeated Somali warlords who have attempted to take refuge in Kenya. The warlords would occasionally come to Kenya for a little R&R (Rest and Relaxation), and the government would tolerate that as long as everyone behaved. But the government does not want these guys establishing a an exile headquarters in Kenya, which could encourage their Somali opponents to come after them inside Kenya.

June 8, 2006: The Islamic Courts victory in Mogadishu was, like so many things in Somalia, not all it appeared to be. The warlord forces fled the city, to avoid being destroyed. None of the gunmen involved in the fighting are professionals. They are young guys who get most of their military moves from American TV and movies. Whoever can show up and generate the most firepower will usually win their "battles." The loser will flee, to fight another day. That's what is happening in Mogadishu, where a large part of the city is still guarded by tribal, not warlord, gunmen. The tribal guys have told the Islamic Courts militias to back off, and so far, the Islamic Courts have respected that. Perhaps because the word is that the defeated warlords have regrouped, refueled and restocked ammo north of the city and are planning a comeback.

June 7, 2006: The head of the Islamic Courts publicly denied any connection with, or support of, Islamic terrorists. This is a shift, for in the past, Islamic Courts leaders (usually clerics) have expressed support for Islamic terror attacks on "infidels" (non-Moslems). The U.S. interpreted this as a dispute within the Islamic Courts leadership, because the pro-terror clerics are still in business in Somalia. Meanwhile, some of the Islamic Courts leaders are negotiating with leaders of the Transitional Government, which is composed of warlord and tribal leaders.

Some 90 kilometers north of Mogadishu, defeated warlord forces are digging in around the town of Jowhar, while some Islamic Courts combat vehicles (pickup trucks with heavy machine-guns mounted on the back) have been seen approaching the town.

June 6, 2006: Thousands of civilians in Mogadishu held demonstrations against the Islamic Courts, and the imposition of Islamic law on the city. The Sharia (Islamic law) would outlaw many forms of entertainment (movies, music, alcohol, miniskirts and so on).

 

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