Somalia: Peace Deal Shot To Pieces

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June 26, 2008: In Mogadishu, the Islamic radical refuse to join the peace deal recently hammered out, unless the Ethiopian troops withdraw. But Ethiopia will not pull its troops out until the Islamic radicals give up on their efforts to take control of Ethiopia's Ogaden province (long in dispute between the two countries). The peace deal calls for Ethiopian withdrawal once a UN peacekeeping force is in place. That might take a while.

The 17 years of violence in Somalia isn't unusual. The sustained peace from the 1970s to 1991, now that was unusual. The Somali clans have been fighting each other for centuries. There's a warrior culture in Somalia that admires murder and theft. Check out the history of the region. Somalis have long been feared by their neighbors because of the culture of violence. Somali raiders have long terrorized Ethiopia and Kenya. Thus the refusal to make peace isn't unusual, it's what's expected. The Islamic radicals that refuse to buy into the recent peace deal are acting in accordance with a long tradition of homicidal irrationality. As a result, several hundred people were killed or injured in Mogadishu in the week after the peace deal was signed. The majority of Somalis want peace, but they have to either kill the Islamic radicals, or persuade them to join the peace. Islamic radicalism is nothing new for Somalia either. Comes along every few generations, and sometimes that causes spectacular violence for a while.  

So far this year, over 20,000 Somalis have fled to Kenya, where refugee camps have been established along the border. Many of the refugees are fleeing starvation (drought, or bandits stealing foreign aid food), not the clan violence. There are nearly half a million Somalis living as refugees throughout the region, mainly in Kenya.

Nine staff members of foreign aid organizations are currently being held for ransom. The aid groups are seen as a source of loot by many Somalis, who then act accordingly. These criminal activities are keeping food, and other aid, from reaching 20-30 percent of the 2.5 million Somalis that need it. One reason the UN wants to get its own peacekeepers in is to provide better security for aid workers and food shipments.

June 25, 2008: Nigeria has a battalion of 800 peacekeepers ready for movement to Somalia. There are already 1,600 Ugandans and 600 Burundians there, but they do little but defend themselves, and the main airport at Mogadishu.

June 24, 2008: A Dutch ship, and its crew of nine, were freed. They had been hijacked on May 25th. Apparently, ransom was paid.

June 23, 2008: Somali pirates kidnapped four Europeans from a yacht anchored off the coast of Yemen. The captives were brought back to Somalia, and are being held in the hills along the Somaliland-Puntland border. Ransom is demanded. Ransom is increasingly popular among armed Somalis. The word about how many Somalis are suddenly prosperous from large ransoms, is rapidly spreading and inspiring thousands of armed men.

June 22, 2008: Al Qaeda has issued another video in which Somalis are urged to resist UN peacekeepers and help establish Somalia as an Islamic terrorist sanctuary. This idea is popular with a minority of Somalis.

 

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