Somalia: Feuds Gone Wild

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October 18, 2007: The Transitional Government is falling apart, along tribal lines. One faction is led by the president, the smaller one by the prime minister. The Transitional Government is, indeed, nothing but a grand coalition of clan leaders and warlords, arduously put together after months of negotiations in Kenya. Under normal conditions, such a coalition is impossible to maintain. The factions are too much into their own demands, and too unwilling to cooperate for the common good, to keep such a coalition going. No group is strong enough to dominate all the others and form a dictatorship. The Islamic Courts offer an alternative in the form of a religious dictatorship, but that has a even less chance of working. It is, however, an attractive goal for many Somalis fed up with the decades of feuding and violence.

Meanwhile, in the north, the peaceful breakaway entities of Puntland and Somaliland continue fighting over possession of the Sool region, that lies astride their border. Both sides claim it, and both are willing to fight for it. The dispute has been going on since Puntland was formed in 1998, and declared they controlled the Sool because the inhabitants belonged to a Puntland tribe. Somaliland based their claim on borders drawn by the colonial governments of Italy and Britain a century ago. Years of negotiations have not settled anything. Now Somaliland claims to have captured the Sool region, and captured dozens of Puntland troops in the process.

In Mogadishu, members of the Transitional Government police, angry at the refusal of UN relief organizations refusal to pay bribes in order to continue delivering aid, invaded the UN compound and seized the head of the World Food Program. By international law, the UN compound is supposed to be free of local police or troops. So in response, the UN demanded suspended food aid distribution in Mogadishu and demanded the release of their man. That may be difficult, because the incident appears to be part of the feud between the president and the prime minister of the Transitional Government. About 75,000 people in Mogadishu depend on UN food aid.

October 12, 2007: The 1,800 Ugandan peacekeepers in Mogadishu agreed to help distribute food aid to refugees who fled the clan fighting in the city, and are camped out in the suburbs. Meanwhile, the Transitional Government arrested the manager of a radio station, who had broadcast claims by Islamic terrorists.

 

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