Somalia: No One to Negotiate With

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March1, 2007: The first of the 4,000 African Union peacekeepers arrived. It was only a few dozen Ugandan officers and NCOs, the advance party of the 1,500 Ugandan troops that would arrive in the next week. They flew into Baidoa. The UN wanted 8,000 peacekeepers, but there were few nations willing to send their troops to Somalia. The Transitional Government has an armed force of about 10,000 men from various clan militias, including a few thousand that have been trained as police (but are still loyal to their clans.)

February 28, 2007: The Transitional Government has offered to negotiate with the Islamic Courts. No response from the Islamic Courts, who have lost their senior leadership and are now operating as they originally did, as separate Islamic Courts in each clan. The Islamic Courts alliance appears to be no more. The individual clans are reverting to their traditional attitudes ("every man for himself.") The bandits in the south are getting bolder, and more destructive, now that the Islamic Courts are no longer running patrols on the main roads in the south.

February 27, 2007: The cargo ship seized by pirates off Puntland didn't get far. While anchored about ten kilometers off the coast, six of the ten pirates went ashore to get some supplies. They were arrested, and the ship itself was surrounded by police boats. Negotiations are under way with the four remaining pirates, to get them off the ship without the crew being harmed. The pirates want ransom.

Burundi offered to send 1,700 peacekeepers to Somalia. Burundi did not say when.

February 25, 2007: In the north, a ship that had just delivered 1,800 tons of UN food aid in Puntland, was hijacked as it left port. The small cargo ship had a crew of twelve. The UN delivers 1,500-2,000 tons a food to Somalia each week, most of it by ship. One of the U.S. warships patrolling off shore, immediately headed for Puntland when it heard of the pirate attack.

February 23, 2007: Remnants of the Islamic Courts are offering a hundred dollars to Somalis willing to take a few shots at Ethiopian or Transitional Force gunmen. That's a lot of money in Somalia, and your chances of surviving the ensuing gun battle are good. So the attacks continue. But the guys taking the money tend to be from the clans that have long supported the Islamic Courts. The government and Ethiopian troops are beginning to attack the pro-Islamic Courts neighborhoods in Mogadishu, and the residents of those neighborhoods are leaving the city.

 

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