Somalia: The Chinese Are Coming

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September 6, 2007: The Islamic Courts Union vows to continue fighting, no doubt inspired by previous Somali religious movements that arose to fight foreign invaders, or other Somalis. A century ago, the British were pestered for years by a Islamic radical leader. They never could catch the guy, and his movement kept going until the leader died. The Somalis have a reputation in the region that portrays them as "tropical Vikings." Somali raiders and bandits have been attacking neighboring territory, and each other, for as long as anyone can remember. As the British used to put it, when confronted by an armed Somali, "shoot on sight, shoot first, shoot to kill and keep shooting." Kenya and Ethiopia have been the chief victims of these seemingly eternal raids, which persist to this day. The Somalis are fractious, and have never been able to establish a Somali state by themselves. The one that did exist for a few decades late in the 20th century, was set up by the departing colonial power, Britain. Many Somalis would like to establish a country, but many other Somalis would rather live the traditional Somali way.




September 2, 2007: U.S. and European warships are patrolling the Somali coast looking for a pirate "mother ship" that is apparently responsible for several pirate attacks of late. Crews from several ships that have been stalked by the pirate ship have provided similar descriptions. So the hunt is on.

September 1, 2007: About ten percent of the Somali population (over a million people) are refugees (from clan warfare and natural disasters). The United States provides most of the money and food to support these people. Meanwhile most of the clan warfare, which has been endemic to the area for centuries, does not get reported. But because Mogadishu is safe enough now for reporters to operate, foreigners get the impression that something special is happening there. The fighting in Mogadishu has, the the last month, generated 10-20 casualties a day. Most of this is from terror attacks by the local clans, that have aligned themselves with the Islamic Courts Union (which is now supported by Eritrea and al Qaeda). The government (clans from outside the city and Ethiopian troops) are going from neighborhood to neighborhood and telling the inhabitants to either support the government, or get out of town. Several hundred civilians a day flee the city each day as a result of this. Most neighborhood leaders agree to support the government. Those that don't, or renege, are attacked and driven out.

August 31, 2007: The Chinese ambassador to Kenya flew into Mogadishu and was taken on a tour of factories and industrial parks, and then signed economic cooperation and aid agreements with the Somali government. These include several hundred million dollars to deal with malaria (mosquito control for the most part) and economic development. China is in the midst of aggressive attempts to establish economic and diplomatic footholds in Africa. This includes making deals in areas where no other foreigners will go (Sudan, Zimbabwe, and now the ultimate no-go zone, Somalia.)

 

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