A week of fighting in Mogadishu is basically a resumption of civil war,
with the Hawiye (a clan name) coalition of
clans on one side and the Darod (another clan) coalition on the other.
The Hawiye are backed by Eritrea and Islamic radicals, while Darod is allied
with Ethiopia and the many nations that helped put the Transitional Government
together. The U.S. has openly accused Eritrea of supporting the Islamic Courts
militias, and helping to prolong the fighting.
Over 300,000 people have fled the fighting in
Mogadishu. That's about a third of the citys population. Most of these are
families of the Hawiye coalition, for it
is their neighborhoods that are being fought over. The international aid
community is split over what to do. The violence in Somalia makes it a very
dangerous place for aid workers, many of whom call for foreign peacekeepers.
But other aid workers note what happened in the past when foreigners
intervened, and what is happening to the Ethiopians right now. The fact is that
there is no easy solution to Somalia. It has long been a violent and chaotic
place, and that is unlikely to change any time soon.
The violence in Mogadishu is all about power and
money. The Islamic Courts had made deals with the gangs and businessmen in
Mogadishu. This took several months, and most factions were taken care of. When
the Ethiopians and Transitional Government came in, the various factions in
Mogadishu saw their interests threatened by these new outsiders. So a lot of
fighting is over who controls what real estate and what business opportunities.
Follow the money, and you'll find the root causes of most unpleasant
The fighting is less intense, as the superior
Ethiopian firepower (tanks and artillery) have destroyed most of the Islamic
Courts heavy weapons. The Islamic Courts led coalition has been sniping at the
government and Ethiopian troops, and hiding behind buildings, which are then
blasted by tanks or artillery. This is destroying whole neighborhoods, and the
Islamic Courts fighters cannot stand up to it. In a week of violence, there
have been nearly 2,000 casualties, most of them civilians or Islamic Courts
militia. The Islamic Courts are hoping
pressure by the UN and foreign diplomats will force a cease fire, so the
Islamic Courts can reorganize and rearm for the next round of fighting.