Somalia: The Great Chase

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January9, 2007: For the last few days, Ethiopian and Transitional Government troops have captured Ras Kamboni, a small port near the Kenyan border. This place has long been an Islamic Courts stronghold and training camp. American warships are off the coast some 22 kilometers, in international waters, checking any boats trying to leave Somalia. With the Islamic Courts smashed, the most organized and dedicated fighting force in the country is gone. But not completely, most members of the Islamic courts are still around, and will revive the organization in the next few months. They will be opposed by a stronger Transitional Government. Both organizations rely on the allegiance of clans for their power, and clans will often go with one side or the other, depending on which side traditional enemy clans have joined. The Ethiopians are not going to stick around, as they are ancient enemies of the Somalis, and are much hated in Somalia. Besides, all the Ethiopians wanted to do was knock the Islamic Courts down a few notches. The Ethiopians know they might have to come back and do in again in a year or so, but they've been slapping down the Somalis for centuries.

American Special Forces are helping in the hunt for known al Qaeda members who have been seen in Somalia in the last few months. Many captured Islamic Courts fighters tell of Arab, and other foreigner, fighters who have been helping them. The bodies of some of these foreigners have been found. The "foreigners" do not appear inclined to be taken alive.

January 8, 2007: In Mogadishu, Somalis Islamic radicals attacked a camp used by Ethiopian troops. Further south, on the Kenyan border, some American Special Forces troops are operating with Ethiopian troops, and an American AC-130 gunship is flying missions, apparently from Djibouti, against Islamic Courts and al Qaeda targets along the Kenyan border, including a small island near Ras Kamboni, where "foreigners" (al Qaeda members) were reported hiding..

The president (since 2004) of the Transitional Government, arrived in Mogadishu.

January 7, 2007: It appears that Eritrea flew hundreds of Islamic Courts fighters to Eritrea, where training in explosives, roadside bombs, and the use of many weapons, was provided. Eritrea also provided weapons and some cash. Eritrea also helped bring in Islamic radical Arabs, who wanted to fight in Somalia. This was done because Eritrea is engaged in a border dispute with Ethiopia (a UN mediator ruled in favor of Eritrea, but Ethiopia refused to accept this.) Eritrea denied involvement in Somalia.

January 6, 2007: There was an anti-Ethiopian demonstration in Mogadishu, which left two demonstrators dead and about twenty wounded.

January 5, 2007: The Transitional Government attempted to get people in Mogadishu to disarm. This failed, and the city is, as always, run by various clan militias. Some of these clans had supported the Islamic Courts, but are keeping quiet for the moment. The Ethiopians are keeping out of sight in Mogadishu, and say they will be gone by the end of the month.

January 4, 2007: Up to a thousand Islamic Courts and al Qaeda gunmen are cornered in the southwest area of Badade, by the Kenyan border. This area has lots of jungle, but not much else. The Islamic radicals have no place else to run, except for those who try to sneak out of the area individually or in small groups. Kenya has increased its border guard force, and al Qaeda foreigners on the Somali side have to watch out for bandits. Most of the Islamic radicals appear ready to make a last stand, which approaching Ethiopian and Somali government troops are ready to make happen. Meanwhile, back in Mogadishu, it appears that several thousand gunmen, who used to work for the Islamic courts, are still there, and have just put their weapons away for the moment.

 

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