Somalia: Nowhere to Run

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January3, 2007: Ethiopia plans to get its troops out of the country with a month. Somalis don't like foreigners, and love to attack and rob outlanders, even if the prey is heavily armed. Meanwhile, captured foreigners, suspected of being Islamic terrorists, are being brought in. The Transitional Government is going to try and disarm the population, or at least collect "excess weapons" and stuff not needed for personal protection (machine-guns, mortars and other heavy weapons.) Kenyan border guards have arrested at least a dozen men, suspected of being Islamic Courts officials, as they tried to cross the border.

Years of low-key military assistance to Ethiopia have paid off. U.S. military trainers have helped raise the skill levels of Ethiopian troops and leaders. American instructors also provided assistance to Ethiopian planners, which helped make the Somalia operation possible. Meanwhile, in Djibouti, just north of Somalia, members of 1,500 man American counter-terrorism task force are on the move. The general direction is south, and the mission is to help round up Islamic terrorists now on the run again, with their Somali refuge gone.

January 2, 2007: Four Ethiopian helicopters pursuing Islamist fighters missed their target two miles from the border and bombed a Kenyan border post twice. Kenyan fighter planes were rushed to the area, where an estimated 4,000 refugees are camped on the Somali side. The Kenyans won't let anyone cross, fearing that the Islamists could disappear among the 160,000 refugees who have already fled to Kenya over the last 15 years. - Adam Geibel

Somalia's prime minister over optimistically claims that with the Islamists are scattered and the fighting largely over, Ethiopia will likely pull its troops out within weeks. He also wants the country disarmed and ordered a three-day period for Somalis to voluntarily surrender their arms at government stations. However, the arms bazaar in Mogadishu has been swamped by Somalis, desperate for a quick dollar, dumping their hidden weapons. Prices on belt-fed machineguns have dropped, from $3,000 to $1,800. - Adam Geibel

January 1, 2007: Ethiopian and Transitional Government troops entered Kismayo, the last major town held by the Islamic Courts. The leaders of the Islamic Courts fled, some going back to their clans, to seek protection there. The foreigners, generally believed to be Islamic terrorists and al Qaeda members, scattered, trying to avoid capture. The Transitional Government offered amnesty to Islamic Courts gunmen.

December 31, 2006: Ethiopian and Somali government forces began an intensive artillery and mortar bombardment of Islamist forces entrenched in and around Kismayo. However, the Islamic forces disintegrated overnight under the barrage and following a mutiny within the ranks. - Adam Geibel

The Transitional Government has asked the clans (tribes) to round up foreign Islamic terrorists. In particular, they are looking for four men involved in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, and other attacks. Rewards are offered, and the hunt is on.

December 30, 2006: Islamic Courts leaders vow to fight on in the south. Islamic Courts gunmen who left Mogadishu were seen headed for the southern port of Kismayo. American warships are now patrolling off the coast.

December 29, 2006: Ethiopian and Transitional Government troops entered Mogadishu. There was looting and violence, as the criminals the Islamic Courts had kept in check, were once more free to do as they pleased.

 

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