Drought in the south has put over a million
people at risk of starvation. Getting food aid in is complicated by clan feuds
over dwindling resources (water and grazing land). Such strife is traditional
when there is a drought, which is common in this part of the world. But the
foreign aid groups trying to deliver free food to the starving is a relatively
new feature, and the Somalis have adapted by regarding the aid groups are fare
game for plunder, extortion and intimidation. That's how things are done in
Somalia. Most of the food aid is paid for by the United States.
August 20, 2007: The
fighting in Mogadishu shows the use of two different strategies. The
government, and their Ethiopian allies, have more military power, and use it to
search pro-terrorist neighborhoods for hostiles. These operations often
encourage the civilians to flee the city. The terrorists fight back with
roadside bombs, assassinations and hit and run attacks. The clans backing the
Islamic radicals have turned this into a battle for survival, for the
government (mainly representing clans from outside Mogadishu) is willing to
drive the pro-Islamic radical (Islamic Courts) clans out of the city.
August 18, 2007: South of
Mogadishu, a clan feud (a dispute over access to water) broke out into several
fire fights, that caused nearly a hundred casualties, including at least twenty
dead. The clans make their own rules, and are inclined to settle disputes with
force. This fighting is not connected with the violence in Mogadishu, which
features a different roster of clan rivalries. In addition, the Mogadishu
violence includes some al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism elements. Some of the
participants are trying to emulate Islamic militants fighting in Iraq and
Afghanistan. That means roadside bombs, which were rarely used in the past. One
old technique has survived; assassination. There are constant attempts to kill
government and clan officials. Just this week, a prominent clan chief, who has
backed reconciliation talks, was shot dead near a Mosque by two gunmen.
August 17, 2007: The U.S.
is threatening to put Eritrea on its list of "state sponsors of
terrorism." This would make life more difficult for Eritrea, as the
listing comes with economic and diplomatic sanctions. But the Eritrean
government is so blinded by their hatred for Ethiopia that they appear ready to
take the listing and continue their support for Islamic terrorists in Somalia.
August 16, 2007: Uganda
has agreed to send another 250 soldiers to Somalia, as a training mission to
upgrade the military skills of the Somali army (of the Transitional
Government.) The other nations that promised peacekeepers for Somalia are
holding back until the UN (via the U.S. and Europe) provide more money to equip
and support the troops. There is some reluctance to hand out this money, as it
tends to get stolen.