Somalia: The Land Of The Larcenous, Ungrateful And Trigger-Happy

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January 21, 2009: With Ethiopian troops gone from Mogadishu, a number of clan and Islamic gangs are now fighting for control. The original Islamic Courts movement has split into several factions, some of them mostly fighting each other. The clans that were expelled from Mogadishu by the Ethiopians (one of the few forces in the region able to fight and defeat the Somalis) are now returning and reclaiming their abandoned property. In some cases, other clans took over that property, leading to more disputes. Some of the Islamic gunmen have turned their attention to the 3,400 AU (African Union) peacekeepers. These troops mostly guard their camp, the air port and public buildings like the presidential palace. All came under attack, but little damage was done.

The Transitional National Government (TNG) is pretty much destroyed. The organization was always an uneasy, and unnatural, alliance between hundreds of clan leaders and warlords. These people did represent about two thirds of the people in central and southern Somalia (the self-declared statelets of Somaliland and Puntland control the north). But they could not agree, and more ill will was created. Now, at least six senior TNG officials have fled to Kenya or Yemen, to wait for things to cool down.

The clan and warlord militias that comprised the TNG are still active, and violence continues all over the country. In Mogadishu there are daily gun battles between various clan, Islamic and warlord militias. This has taken some of the heat off the AU peacekeepers, who tend to keep to themselves, and are more heavily armed than the Somalis. But the peacekeepers are unlikely to get any reinforcements. The UN has been unable to recruit a relief force, so Burundi and Uganda are making plans to pull their troops out of Mogadishu.

Meanwhile, the pirates are having a hard time up north. Only two ships have been captured so far this year, and many more attempts were interrupted by foreign warships (or their armed helicopters). Pirates have been killed by the interruptions, and the anti-piracy patrol is growing larger and smarter in their attempts to shut down the Somali pirates. There are now believed to be at least nine gangs of pirates operating in Puntland, all under the protection of a clan that dominates most of the coast. The clan leaders keep the Puntland government from interfering (despite enormous pressure from foreign aid donor nations.)

Meanwhile, down south, the UN struggles to prevent over three million Somalis from dying of starvation. Bandits and warlords, meanwhile, keep demanding higher payoffs (protection money) from the aid organizations (who make louder demands for peacekeeper troops to defend them), But few foreign nations want to send troops to Somalia, the land of larcenous, ungrateful and trigger-happy people.

 

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