Somalia: Paranoia

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October 29, 2009: The Transitional Government admitted that it had recruited 1,500 ethnic Somalis in northeastern Kenya (where there are several hundred thousand Kenyans who are ethnic Somalis and 300,000 Somali refugees) and training them to be Somali government police. This is a major effort by the UN to produce a reliable police force to counteract the al Shabaab gunmen. It's been difficult getting enough men to join up, as al Shabaab has a fearsome reputation. So teenagers are being told to lie about their age, and Somalis in prison being recruited as well.

Several Reaper UAVs have begun flying maritime patrols from the Seychelles islands (which are 1,500 kilometers east of Somalia). The intense international naval patrol in the Gulf of Aden has made it very difficult to hijack ships there, so the pirates have taken stolen fishing ships (acting as mother ships towing or carrying two or more speedboats) and gone east to the Seychelles. There, the pirates have seized several ships. The anti-piracy patrol has shifted resources to the Seychelles, but needs aerial reconnaissance to find the mother ships.

China refused commando assistance from the U.S., Britain and France after a Chinese cargo ship was seized last week, off the Seychelles islands. This, despite the Chinese government saying they would promptly do something about rescuing the Chinese crew and their ship. But the Chinese were unable to intercept the cargo ship before it got from the Seychelles to Somalia. Now China is hoping to enlist the help of tribal elders in the area where the Chinese ship is being held.

Somali pirates are threatening to kill the crew of the cargo ship Ariana, held for five months and running out of fuel. The owner has refused to pay the ransom the pirates are demanding, so the pirates are threatening violence.

The Transitional Government says it will eliminate piracy within two years. Few people believe it. Puntland, however, has been trying and convicting pirates handed over to them by the anti-piracy patrol (along with cash to pay expenses and encourage prosecution.) But Puntland is not expected to keep convicted pirates in jail for long.

There is fighting daily in Mogadishu, as al Shabaab tries to intimidate AU peacekeepers into backing off and ceasing providing security for the Transitional Government. So far, the terrorists have been unsuccessful, but there are a dozen or more casualties each day.

The Arab League has tried, and failed, to broker peace talks between al Shabaab and the Transitional Government. The Arab League has not had much success in negotiating with Islamic terror groups.

October 28, 2009: A European warship operating off the Seychelles, captured seven of the ten pirates who had recently hijacked a British sailboat and its crew of two. The three remaining pirates are on the sailboat, taking it to a village on the Somali coast. All ten pirates had spotted a French fishing ship, and seven of the pirates took off in their speedboat to try and capture the French vessel. But there were armed security guards on the French ship, who fired on the pirates. Then, a nearby warship came by and captured the seven pirates.

October 27, 2009: Al Shabaab shut down another foreign aid group (ASEP), accusing the organization of spying on the Islamic terrorists. Previously, al Shabaab had shut down CARE, MSF and MercyCorps. Other aid groups can make up for some of the lost aid, especially food. Most of the food is supplied by the United States, and it feeds the terrorists as well as starving civilians. The terrorists and bandits also steal a lot of the food, and sell it in local markets.

October 24, 2009: Al Shabaab is now holding public executions of suspected spies. Two young men were killed today, after being held and tortured for three months. Al Shabaab is concerned about the increasing threat of attacks by American special operations forces based in nearby Djibouti. The Americans seem to be well informed about who is who and where they are.

A British yacht (a sailboat, actually) left the Seychelles on the 22nd, carrying a British couple (in their 50s). Now Somali pirates claim to have seized the boat and are demanding ransom. That may be a problem, as the couple are not rich, and the sailboat is their main asset.

October 23, 2009: Al Shabaab continued to fire mortar shells at the presidential palace (guarded by AU peacekeepers). Annoyed at the continued mortar attacks, the AU troops fired about three dozen rockets at the mortars (which set up in the sprawling Bakara market, hiding  among civilians). The rocket attack killed over 20 people, and enraged al Shabaab, which thought they were immune from attack because they used human shields. Al Shabaab is unaccustomed to this kind of retribution. So al Shabaab told Uganda and Burundi (who supply the peacekeepers in  Somalia) that there would be Islamic terror attacks on the capital cities of Uganda and Burundi. Uganda taunted al Shabaab right back, promising them a rough time if they even attempted to make any attacks inside Uganda.

 

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