Somalia: Things Can Get Worse


September 27, 2007: Several hundred thousand drought victims are in danger of starvation, and the growing pirate threat has made it difficult to find ships willing to bring in food. Trucking food in from Kenya is impractical because of the many local warlords who levy "transit fees" or simply steal the food. In response, France has offered to provide a warship to escort cargo ships carrying food aid. This might work, although no one is providing protection for the food once it hits the docks.

The Transitional Government is providing weapons to clans that are willing to side with the government. Ethiopia provides the weapons, and the UN provides food aid, both of which the government controls. Providing cash is less effective. Leaders of the Transitional Government are accusing each other of having stolen money provided (by foreign donors) to reestablish government institutions.

September 26, 2007: Transitional Government and Ethiopian troops have driven over 10,000 hostile clan members from the city in the past week. The defeated clans, which used to dominate commerce in the city, cannot muster enough armed force to confront the government and Ethiopian troops, and have relied on irregular warfare. This is causing a lot of terror, but is not saving the clans from being driven out of the city. Some of the clans have allied themselves with the Islamic Courts, but they have not found many Somalis willing to be suicide bombers, or suicide anything. They have found that cash works. Young teenagers are being paid $100 to toss grenades into crowded areas, especially if soldiers are nearby. But given the risk of being torn apart by other Somalis, or shot by soldiers, not a lot of kids are accepting the challenge.

September 25, 2007: A survey of African nations put Somalia at the bottom of the list in terms of its ability to govern itself. No surprise there. Also not surprising that the other nations at the bottom were Congo, Chad, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau. All have wars or rebellions underway, and governments that can't govern very well.

September 24, 2007: The 1,600 Ugandan peacekeepers have been hung out to dry by the international community. There were supposed to be 8,000 AU (African Union) peacekeepers, but after seeing how the clan wars have returned to Somalia, the other peacekeeper donors have backed out, giving a variety of excuses for not showing up. The Ugandans are basically guarding their own base and the Mogadishu airport, and not much else.

September 22, 2007: Acting on a tip, Ethiopian troops crossed into Somaliland and arrested six men believed to be al Qaeda operatives.


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