The Arab League
has refused to try and raise a force of peacekeepers for Somalia. The League
was believed better able to deal with the Islamic radicals in Somalia, but the
Arab League remembers centuries of unrest and chaos in Somalia, and past
failures to deal with it. The Arabs believe the best solution is the
traditional one. And that is to wait until the Somalis tire of fighting each
other. Then send in peacekeepers and more foreign aid.
In Mogadishu, the mayor, a warlord in his own right, has refused orders
to leave his position. The Transitional National Government (TNG) has few
resources, depending on Ethiopian troops for most of its muscle. The many armed
factions that make up the TNG are largely concerned with stealing and guarding
the territory they control. The factions that support the Islamic Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia, and
parts of the Islamic Courts Union (the
ICU, which is part of the ARS) want to
keep fighting and gain control of all of Somalia, but have not got the fire
power to carry this off. There is a mobile group of several hundred ICU gunmen
wandering around southern Somalia, living off looting towns they briefly take
over. This gang concentrates on towns with small numbers of police or soldiers
The ICU has been attacking foreign aid workers (eleven killed and four
kidnapped so far this year), and this has shut down several foreign aid operations.
Over two million Somalis are dependent on foreign aid for food and medical
care. Many armed factions depend on the foreign aid as well, both for food, and
bribes extracted from truck (carrying the food) drivers at roadblocks. The ICU wants to gain control
of the food aid, so as to impose their will on most of the population ("do
as I say or starve.")
August 10, 2008: Yemeni pirates
apparently had a million dollars in ransom, for two Germans kidnapped from
their Yacht several months ago. The Germans were released from captivity in
northern Somalia, where they were being held.
August 9, 2008: Northern Somalia
(the self-declared statelets of Puntland and Somaliland) are allowing foreign
aid groups to clear landmines and destroy old (and unstable) munitions and
weapons that are no longer useable.
August 8, 2008: Outside
Mogadishu, rival factions of the TNG police fought, leaving at least eight
August 6, 2008: Canada has
volunteered to supply a warship to continue the anti-piracy escort for food aid
shipments going from Kenya to Somalia. Many other Western nations are trying to
suppress growing piracy in the Gulf of Aden (the entrance to the Red Sea, which
leads to the Suez Canal). This is a crowded stretch of water, 1,500 kilometers long
and 480 wide. Most of the pirates are operating from Somali villages, but some
are based in Yemen as well. The foreign warship patrol has spread the word of
radio frequencies that should be used to report pirate activity, or to summon
help. This has been stopping some attacks, but the pirates are still out there,
and still trying.
August 3, 2008: A roadside bomb
went off in Mogadishu, killing 14 and wounding over 50. Most of the dead were
women street sweepers. Islamic terrorists have been using roadside bombs to
intimidate the police and rival factions.
August 2, 2008: Two-thirds of the
fifteen cabinet members have resigned, as the many clan and warlord factions
argue over who gets what in the TNG. Most of the foreign aid money the TNG has
received appears to have been stolen by TNG officials. New ministers were
appointed, and the game went on.
August 1, 2008: A Ugandan peacekeeper
was killed by a roadside bomb in Mogadishu. The 2,600 African Union
peacekeepers mainly guard themselves, although seven have died in the last