Somalia: The Tide Turns For A While


August 11, 2010:  Al Shabaab has banned three more Western aid agencies (World Vision, ADRA, Diakonia), because they are supported by Christian church groups. Such agencies agree not to engage in religious activities when operating in many nations, in cooperation with  UN (which often coordinates aid efforts) policy for operations in Moslem nations. Al Shabaab is not concerned with this, and is mainly interested in the opportunity to loot all the equipment of the expelled aid groups (which try and continue getting aid in by using local hires, who are easier for al Shabaab to extract bribes from.)

The daily skirmishing between al Shabaab and government/peacekeeper forces in Mogadishu continue. The Islamic radicals have failed to take control of the city, despite months of fighting. Meanwhile, the AU (African Union) is increasing the size of the peacekeeping force to at least 8,000 troops, and the UN is planning to send officials back to Mogadishu, to keep an eye on things and provide more prompt information for the UN to make decisions with. The UN officials would operate out of AU peacekeeper bases, which have so far been invulnerable to attacks. This UN move will take place in the next 2-3 months. The UN has not had a presence in Somalia since the 1990s.

The British government has blocked passage of UN sanctions on some Somali pirate leaders because lawyers fear British insurance companies could be charged with violating the sanctions by paying ransoms to the pirates. Most of the ship insurance comes from British firms. UN lawyers are working it all out.

In the U.S., prosecutors indicted 14 Somali migrants for providing volunteers and cash for al Shabaab. These activities took place in three states and Canada. The money was often raised under false pretences, with the fund raisers insisting it was for poor and starving people in Somalia. The volunteers, however, were recruited to fight for Islamic radical groups in Somalia.

August 9, 2010: A lookout on a merchant ship off Somalia spotted approaching pirates, called the anti-piracy patrol, and a helicopter from an American warship showed up and forced the pirates to dump their weapons and flee. This is increasingly common.

August 8, 2010: In Puntland, government militiamen continue to seek out and attack gunmen loyal to a local warlord who has proclaimed himself a follower of al Shabaab. Today's attack left at least fifteen of the pro-terrorist gunmen dead. The Puntland security forces have also been attacking some pirate groups (two in the last week), apparently because the pirates had not paid enough of a bribe to Puntland officials, or had otherwise misbehaved and incurred disciplinary action.

August 7, 2010: Pirates attacked a Syrian cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, but the crew fought back, and after about 24 hours of skirmishing, and with anti-piracy patrol warships approaching, the pirates took one of the ships lifeboats and fled. Two members of the cargo ship were injured in the fighting, and were treated by anti-piracy patrol medical personnel.

August 4, 2010: Government security forces attacked an al Qaeda camp in the Ethiopian border, leaving at least twenty government, al Qaeda and al Shabaab fighters dead. Ethiopia provided information about the location and  nature of the terrorist camp.




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