Somalia: Fear, Greed and Intransigence

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July 21, 2007: The Transitional Government is still trying to hold a reconciliation conference in Mogadishu, but clans native to the city and their Islamic Courts allies refuse to talk until Ethiopian troops withdraw. If that were done, the Islamic Courts would use force to coerce other clans to accept an Islamic dictatorship, or at least leave the local clans in charge of Mogadishu. The greed, readiness to use violence and lack of civic spirit are a curse that has prevented Somalia from forming a government for over a decade.

July 19, 2007: The 1,600 Ugandan peacekeepers have limited themselves to guarding the airport and docks area. There were supposed to be 8,000 peacekeepers, but the other African countries have backed off in the face of the continuing violence. They want a peace to keep, not a violent situation where they have to impose peace. The African Union has agreed to extend its peacekeeping mission to Somalia for another six months. But Nigeria, Burundi, Malawi and Ghana, have delayed sending peacekeepers they have pledged. The excuses tend to revolve around promised military equipment from Western nations not arriving, or training not being completed.

July 18, 2007: The UN is appealing for donors to provide $20 million to buy 25,000 tons of food for starving Somalis. This will take care of needs until the end of the year. However, the usual donor nations are reluctant to give, because so much of the food aid is stolen. Somali pirates are increasingly active, and especially eager to grab ships carrying UN food aid. During the first six months of the year, nearly a million Somalis received food aid.

July 17, 2007: The recent oil exploration deal with a Chinese company is coming undone because not all the main factions in the Transitional Government agree on it. In other words, not all the clan factions are happy with the amount of money they got for the deal.

July 16, 2007: Various factions continue to fight for control of the Bakara market, and merchants are beginning to leave for other parts of the city. The local clans and Islamic Courts are not strong enough to fight the government troops (from clans outside the city) or Ethiopians, so they use human shields from which to fire off a few shots or throw a grenade. The return fire usually hits the civilians, as the perpetrator quickly moves away. The local clans would rather see the Bakara market shut down, than concede control to outsiders. The chaos at the market has caused shortages, and inflation of up to 100 percent for some goods.

July 15, 2007: About 60 percent of the 1,325 delegates (clan elders and warlords) have arrived in Mogadishu for peace talks.

 

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