Somalia: We Bring You The Gift Of Defeat

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December 13, 2009: The anti-piracy patrol has the Gulf of Aden under control. The commercial ships at most risk are the ones that won't follow the rules established by the patrol force. Meanwhile, the problem has become one of seeking to convince more of the nations that contribute to the patrol, to shift some of their resources to the Seychelles islands (which are 1,500 kilometers east of Somalia). In this much larger area, where some of the pirates are taking larger ships (usually stolen seagoing fishing boats) and using them as mother ships for speed boats that go after less alert, and larger, targets (especially loaded oil tankers coming out of the Persian Gulf.)

The Seychelles islands government is encouraging foreign help, because the Seychelles islands police and military amount to less than a thousand personnel. The islands depend on fishing and tourism, and both are threatened by the increasingly active Somali pirates. The Seychelles government is willing to capture and prosecute pirates, unlike the foreign warships, which tend to practice catch and release.

Efforts to restore anti-piracy laws, or at least establish an international anti-piracy court, are going nowhere. Most Western nations no longer have laws on the books that deal with piracy. Taking captured pirates back home for prosecution risks the pirates demanding (and getting) asylum under new laws (that came into effect about the same time the anti-piracy laws were eliminated.) The captured pirates are usually disarmed, but are also fed and have their medical needs tended to. They are then put back in their boats, or put ashore, and allowed to return to their pirate activities.

The bomber who carried out the December 3rd attack was identified as a 22 year old Somali man whose family fled to Denmark twenty years ago. But, like several dozen other young expatriate Somalis, he was mesmerized by the appeal of Islamic radicalism, and its promise of uniting Somalis under the rule of a religious dictatorship. These foreign volunteers are generally disdained (as unskilled in the ways of armed anarchy) by the local Somalis. To prove themselves, the foreign volunteers step forward for very dangerous jobs, like being a suicide bomber. The influx of experienced terrorists from Iraq, after al Qaeda was crushed there last year, led to a sharp improvement in the effectiveness of Somali Islamic terrorist operations. Suicide bomber operations became more reliable, and roadside bombs more common. However, the al Qaeda refugees from Iraq appear to be ignoring the fact that they lost back there, in part because local civilians got tired of being collateral damage to all these well run bombing attacks. The same thing is happening in Somalia.

There are only about a thousand Somali Christians left  in the country, and in the south, al Shabaab is hunting them down and killing them. The Transitional Government, which is run by Islamic conservatives, is not speaking out against these murders. Decades of chaos have caused most local Christians to flee the country. Meanwhile,  Sufi Moslems are also under attack, but they are more numerous (several percent of the population) and are organizing militias and fighting back. The armed Sufis are not a big threat to al Shabaab, but do restrict the movement of the radicals somewhat.

December 9, 2009: Off the east coast, Somali pirates seized a Pakistani sea-going fishing ship. Normally, there are hundreds of these ships fishing the waters between Somalia and the Seychelles. But now many of these fishing boats are staying away because of the piracy problem.

December 8, 2009: On the outskirts of Mogadishu, Islamic terrorists from Hizbul Islam got into a quarrel with civilians, who dared to fly the Somali flag (instead of Hizbul Islam's banner). The ensuing gun battle between the civilians and terrorists left three dead. Some civilians threatened to wage guerilla war against the terrorist groups (like firing off a few shots and running away). Off the east coast, Somali pirates seized an Iranian sea-going fishing ship.

December 7, 2009: In Mogadishu, several hundred very brave students led a brief (20 minute) demonstration against Islamic terrorists. The demonstrators dispersed before any Islamic terrorist gunmen could get the word and show up. Somali police issued a warning that they believed al Shabaab was planning two more suicide bomb attacks, using bombers disguised as police or army commanders. The targets were believed to be the Mogadishu port and airport. The general revulsion against the recent bombing of a medical school graduation has motivated more Somalis to do something to oppose the terrorists.

 

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