Somalia: Waiting On The Weather And The Auditors

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July 29, 2009: The UN is trying to muster more international support for the Transitional Government in Somalia, while Western nations are trying to get UN cooperation in having Somali radical groups like al Shabaab declared international terrorists. This would make it easier to shut down their sources of cash from Moslem charities in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere. But Moslem nations like to block UN efforts to have more Islamic radical groups declared international terrorists. The designation makes Islam look bad, and Moslem states like to see this designation used sparingly. The U.S. has already identified Somalis, and non-Somalis in the Persian Gulf, Europe and North America, who have been aiding the Somali pirates and groups like al Shabaab, but the UN has been unable to put its full weight behind a crackdown on these terrorism supporters. Meanwhile, training (of police and soldiers) and logistical support for the Transitional Government continues. The Transitional Government has agreed to allow outside auditors to monitor how they spend the $200 million in aid they will be receiving. In the past, such payments largely disappeared in Somalia, without doing much.

The Somali pirates are having a hard time of it, mainly because the Monsoon storms have made the offshore waters dangerous (3-4 meter, or 9-13 foot waves) for the speedboats pirates use to catch up with and attack merchant ships. But the Monsoon storms will be over by the end of August, and the calm seas are expected to bring the pirates out in large numbers. In preparation for that, the anti-piracy task force is expanding its air patrols to the east coast of Somalia. This will spot pirates heading far out to sea, to go after Indian ocean traffic.

Some of the Somali pirates use the rough weather of the Monsoon season to concentrate on their other line of business, smuggling Somali refugees across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen (and thence as far away from Somalia, preferably Europe or North America, as possible). About 30,000 Somalis have made the crossing so far this year, and at least one percent of those are lost when the boats sink along the way.

Government forces have been able to expand their control over central Somalia, as al Shabaab gunmen retreat from too many lost battles. Al Shabaab has been stalled in Mogadishu now that the AU (African Union) peacekeepers have entered the fight (by getting in the way of al Shabaab advances.) As a result of this, al Shabaab has started attacking peacekeeper positions (mainly their camps, the port and airport and key government buildings, and the main roads connecting them.) The AU troops are better armed, trained and led than the al Shabaab, so these attacks always fail, usually with some al Shabaab, and no AU, casualties.

July 27, 2009: In Mogadishu, al Shabaab fired mortar shells at the main government compound, to disrupt the first meeting of parliament since May (when al Shabaab began its offensive in the city). The shells did not injure anyone, but parliament adjourned as a precaution.

July 23, 2009: Al Shabaab and government forces clashed near the town of Guriel in central Somalia. There were over fifty casualties, and the government maintain control of the area.

 

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