Somalia: Ugandan Troops Want A License To Kill

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July 16, 2010:  Uganda is enraged by al Shabaab's terror attack inside its capital on the 11th, and is calling for the AU (African Union) to increase the peacekeeper force in Somalia to 20,000 troops, and allow it to go after al Shabaab and other Islamic radical groups. The bombing enraged Ugandans, and other East African nations, who are now more willing to fight Islamic radicalism. Part of this attitude is the fact that most East Africans are not Moslem, and are hostile to Moslems, and Arabs. For thousands of years, Arabs have traded with East Africa, operating from fortified coastal towns. This trade also included buying Africans (usually from other Africans) as slaves and shipping them throughout the Middle East, and beyond. When Islam came along 1,400 years ago, the Arabs tried to impose the new religion on East Africans, without much success. The Somalis were one of the few exceptions, apparently because they had, in distant antiquity adopted a language similar to Arabic. Although black (and often enslaved by Arabs), Somalis have always considered themselves Arabs. Thus there has long been hostility between Somalis and the other black Africans to the south. This is even seen in refugee camps in Kenya, where Somalis and refugees from Sudan (where Arab speaking northern Somalis have been driving black African Somalis from their villages in western Sudan) fight each other. In the last few days, a battle in the Kenyan Dadaab camp left over fifty injured. Most of the violence is instigated by Somalis, usually against non-Moslem Africans. The Moslem black Sudanese are often targets of Somali aggression as well. The Kenyan refugee camps contain people from Sudan, Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Ethiopia. The Dadaab is the largest refugee camp in the world, holding about a million people (99 percent of them Somalis). There are Somali refugees throughout Africa, and there is constant friction with non-Somali Africans.

The July 11th al Shabaab attack in Uganda has caused unease among Somalis in Mogadishu, as they expect the 3,500 Ugandan AU peacekeepers to seek revenge, and to kill a lot of civilians in the process. Al Shabaab often uses civilians as human shields, who get killed in the crossfire. The AU peacekeepers are from black African nations that have long suffered from the arrogance and violent behavior of Somalis. An AU offensive in Somalia would get pretty nasty, particularly because the AU troops have shown no reluctance to shoot up human shields al Shabaab might use. It's because of these volatile attitudes that the AU and UN are reluctant to turn the peacekeepers loose in Mogadishu. Al Shabaab, meanwhile, is experiencing more internal dissension because of the Uganda bombing. The foreign al Qaeda men who urged the bombings be carried out, and probably advised on how to do it, are now less popular. Many al Shabaab members are aware of the superior combat power of the foreign troops, and that al Shabaab cannot stand up to this kind of force, especially if it contains a lot of Ugandans seeking revenge. Thus there is now more opposition to al Qaeda within al Shabaab, and Somali Islamic radicals in general.

Uganda believes the al Shabaab bombing in Uganda was carried out by at least twenty al Shabaab members who entered Uganda (via Kenya) several months ago. Police have arrested nine Somalis in Uganda, and accused them of participating in the terror plot.

July 15, 2010: Uganda offered to supply another two thousand troops for the Somali peacekeeping force, to bring it up to strength (8,100), if no other nation comes forward. Uganda already has 3,500 troops in Somalia.

The U.S. has pledged to provide more support for peacekeepers in Somalia, especially if those peacekeepers are allowed to do some peacemaking against Islamic radical groups (like al Shabaab). The U.S. has a special operations base in Djibouti (on Somalia's northern border), as do special operations troops from France and other NATO nations. The U.S. Special Forces troops run discreet intelligence operations in Somalia, including the use of UAVs. In the past, the U.S. has armed these UAVs with Hellfire missiles, and has had warships off the coast hit targets in Somalia with cruise missiles.

Worldwide pirate attacks have fallen 18 percent this year (for the first six months), from 240 attacks to 196. Because of the anti-piracy patrol, attacks in the Gulf of Aden fell over 60 percent (from 86 to 33), while attacks farther off the east coast of Somalia increased 16 percent (to 51). Somali pirates have seized 27 ships in the first six months of 2010, most (16) of them far at sea.

July 14, 2010: Uganda has asked for the African Union (AU) to change the ROE (Rules of Engagement) for the peacekeepers in Somalia, so that these troops can go after al Shabaab. The AU follows the UN in having its peacekeepers forbidden to take offensive action.

Ugandan police have already been arresting suspects in the July 11 bombing. The U.S. FBI, which has long maintained some personnel in Uganda, to coordinate efforts against Islamic terrorists, was quick to provide the Ugandans with data on what al Shabaab might be up to. The U.S. monitors al Shabaab as much as possible, but rarely shares the data, in order to safeguard the sources and methods used to collect it.

July 13, 2010: Many members of the AU are calling for more peacekeepers to be sent to Somalia, and for these troops be allowed to go after Islamic radical groups. Al Shabaab thought the attack would intimidate the 52 AU members, but it has had the opposite effect. Most AU members, especially the non-Arab ones, are enraged and want vengeance and justice.

July 11, 2010: In Uganda's capital, two suicide bombers attacked a large group of Ugandans and foreigners watching the World Cup final, as well as an Ethiopian restaurant, killing at least 76 people. A third suicide vest was found in a suburban disco, where the bomber apparently had second thoughts. Al Shabaab later took credit for the attack. Al Shabaab has been threatening such attacks for months, in retaliation for the presence of Ugandan peacekeepers (and largely non-Moslem ones at that) in Somalia. Only about 12 percent of Ugandans are Moslem, and only a few of those are radicals. But that would have been enough to help the Somali radicals plan and carry out an attack. Ugandan police promptly arrested the usual suspects in the Ugandan Islamic radical community, and some of these guys turned out to have al Shabaab connections. Uganda does not border Somalia, but does share a long border with Kenya, which is home to over a million Somali refugees.

July 10, 2010:  On the Ethiopian border, at least sixteen were killed when a Somali militia clashed with Ethiopian troops.

Al Shabaab has acted on its pledge to conscript young men to join the fight against the Transitional Government and various Somali militias. Today, at least a hundred young men were forced, at gunpoint, to "join" al Shabaab.

 

 

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