Somalia: Plenty of Somalia, But Few Somalis


January22, 2007: The defeat of the Islamic Courts has not improved clan politics. Everyone wants more than the other clans are willing to concede. The fighting between clans, often over ancient disputes, has resumed. The only thing a Somali can depend on is his clan. Clan leaders with particularly good leadership skills become warlords, and make themselves, and their followers, wealthier via looting and extortion. This is accepted, especially by those doing the taking.

In Mogadishu. Ethiopian and Transitional Government troops fired on demonstrators, killing three of them. The troops were seeking to arrest Islamic Courts leaders. The neighborhoods tend to be dominated by specific clans, and some of those clans still support the Islamic Courts. Those are the neighborhoods where there are demonstrations. The opposition gunmen will keep confronting the government and Ethiopians until the government either backs off, beats the clan into submission, or works out some kind of deal. In Somalia, more time is spent fighting than talking. It's the Somali way.

January 21, 2007: Kenya has arrested over a hundred Islamic Courts and al Qaeda members at the Somali border. So far, 34 have been sent pack, in chains, to Somalia. Others are being considered for asylum.

January 20, 2007: All of the major warlords have now agreed to recognize, if not always obey, the Transitional Government. The warlords surrendered some of their heavy weapons (truck mounted anti-aircraft guns, mortars and the like), and sent some of their men to be trained for the national army.

An Ethiopian army convoy was fired on, but the Ethiopians fired back, killing four people (most of whom appeared to be just bystanders.) The Ethiopians would rather be feared than loved, and are quick to open fire if threatened.

January 19, 2007: While the Transitional Government was negotiating with the African Union (AU) and the UN for a peacekeeping force, someone fired eight mortar shells at the presidential palace. The streets are dangerous, as efforts to disarm clans have been generally unsuccessful. Peacekeepers will not arrive for several weeks, at least, and the AU is asking Ethiopia to stick around until the peacekeepers arrive.

January 18, 2007: The Transitional Government has asked for aid from the U.S., to help in forming a police force and army. The problem is that, while there is a Somalia, there are no Somalis. Everyone considers themselves a member of a clan first, and everything else is a distant second. The aid money will, in theory, go to the Somali government, but in practice will go to clans. And the clans with more money have more power. A coalition of a few clans will dominate the Transitional Government, freezing out many other clans, and these groups will remain hostile to the "government."

January 17, 2007: Kenya has arrested over a dozen Islamic Courts and al Qaeda leaders who attempted to cross the border. The prisoners are now asking for political asylum, and the Kenyans are considering it. But it's more likely the Islamic radicals will be handed over to the Somali Transitional Government. Several of these men are wanted by the Americans as well.

January 16, 2007: The Transitional Government allowed radio stations back on the air, but then shut down three of them for openly supporting the Islamic Courts or inciting war between clans. Somali radio radio stations tend to be partisan.


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