Somalia: The Arab Solution

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August 11, 2008:  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 in residence.

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 dead.

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 sixteen months.

 

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