Exaggeration and posturing
are a major part of Somali warfare. For example, in the last year, filled with
war and revolution, cities lost and taken and invasions and governments
overthrown, the death toll is estimated to be about 1,500. Somalis are not good
shots, and quick to retreat if it looks like they are going to lose. None of
this "fight to the last man" stuff. A lot of the "fighting"
in Somalia consists of some guys firing off a few dozen bullets, and RPG or
two, then spending the rest of the day bragging about it, and creating a story
of fierce, but fictional, combat. In line with this, some 40,000 people have
fled Mogadishu in the last month, as the various clan militias increase their
sniping at each other. The gunmen often do this from behind crowds of
civilians, knowing that return fire is more likely to hit the civilians (out in
the open) than the gunmen (inside vehicles or buildings). The bluffing and
shooting is not decisive in a military sense, but it does disrupt commercial
and domestic life. The Somalis are infamous for this kind of violence,
which is often fueled by drugs and alcohol. Thus most business and shopping is
best done in the morning, before the young men with guns get high enough to go
looking for trouble.
March 15, 2007: The daily mortar attacks
continue, with about half a dozen shells a day being fired. Gangs of pro-Islamic
Courts gunmen will, every day or so, confront troops at a roadblock. There will
be a lot of shooting, not much in the way of casualties, and then either the
troops at the roadblock, or (usually) the attackers, will flee. The government
says it will end this sort of thing in 30 days. Good luck.
March 12, 2007: The Transitional Government
has agreed to move back to Mogadishu, but has not set a date.
March 11, 2007: The government wants the new
AU peacekeeping force to disarm the hostile clans that are causing most of the
violence in Mogadishu. This will intimidate the clans elsewhere in the country,
and make it possible for commerce to revive. About a thousand Ugandan troops
have arrived in the city so far.
March 9, 2007: A Russian built Il-76, landing
at Mogadishu airport, caught fire shortly after it was on the ground. The rumor
quickly spread that it had been hit by ground fire, but the cause was a
mechanical failure on the aircraft (which is on loan from Algeria). The airport
was closed for a day.