Somalia: Chaos On Land, Victory At Sea

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July 6, 2011: Kenya is calling for a NATO blockade of Kismayo (an al Shabaab controlled port near the Kenyan border) and a no-fly zone over southern Somalia (to isolate Islamic terrorists there.) Kenya has sent more police and troops to the Somali border, looking for wounded al Shabaab leaders believed brought into Kenya for treatment. But Kenya also fears al Shabaab is increasingly using a huge refugee camp (for those fleeing the drought and violence in Somalia) as a base and source of supplies.

It's believed that a quarter of the Somalis (living south of Somaliland and Puntland) are now refugees, fleeing hunger or violence (mostly from Islamic terror group al Shabaab and its allies). That's nearly two million people. Over 400,000 people have fled to Kenya. Another 100,000 have fled to Ethiopia and nearly 200,000 to Yemen. The UN is calling for a massive relief effort, but the usual donors are reluctant to come forward, because al Shabaab, bandits and local merchants have been stealing so much of the relief aid. Al Shabaab also prohibits aid in many parts of the south.

The fighting continues in Mogadishu, and al Shabaab continues losing. But it's a slow fight, despite several hundred casualties a week (mostly from ambushes, roadside bombs and random shooting). But at the same time, the trend is against al Shabaab, whose savagery and ruthlessness has made it increasingly unpopular. Not that the TNG (Transitional National Government) is much better. The government "soldiers", although Western trained, are poorly led and often not paid (because their commanders have stolen the money). So the TNG troops increasing prey on the civilians they are supposed to be protecting. There have even been incidents of TNG soldiers shooting at each other, in disputes over loot.

Al Shabaab also continues taking a beating in its war with Sufi clan militias in the south. The Sufi, a rather mellow Islamic sect, got tired of the al Shabaab abuse, and have been fighting back.

The Somali pirates are growing more capable, as the ROW (Rules Of Engagement) NATO naval forces use results in "catch and release" of pirates caught attacking a ship. Pirate mother ships are increasingly more effective at disguising themselves as fishing ships or small transports, and avoid getting boarded and searched.

July 5, 2011: The U.S. revealed that it had captured Ahmed Warsame, the chief al Shabaab arms smuggler, three months ago (apparently in Yemen). Warsame was held on a U.S. warship for two months, and humanely interrogated until he gave up useful information. He is now in the United States and indicted for terrorism.  

July 3, 2011: The TNG has called for clans in central Somalia to stop fighting each other. But the drought has produced a severe water shortage, and persistent fighting over who should control the remaining supplies.

July 1, 2011:   TNG officials revealed that the June 23rd "bombing attack" in the south was actually an American  UAV missile attack, which killed or wounded at least ten Islamic terrorists. American troops then landed in a helicopter, and took two of the dead or wounded terrorists away. The U.S. had done this once before, in 2009, but that time helicopter gunships were used. According to many Somalis, there have been other incidents of U.S. Special Forces troops landing briefly and carrying out missions. American and French commandos have been stationed in Somalia's northern neighbor, Djibouti, for nearly a decade. Apparently the June UAV attack was directed at specific terrorist leaders, including two with close relationships to U.S.-born Yemeni cleric and al Qaeda leader Anwar Al-Awlaki. It was believed that al Qaeda and al Shabaab, via Yemen based Awlaki, were planning terror operations in the West. It is believed that there have been other UAV missile attacks recently, and that al Shabaab is moving some of its key people to Yemen as a result.

Two people were killed when Kenyan police battled Somalis in the Dadaab refugee camp. Refugee leaders are challenging Kenyan officials for control of the camps. Al Shabaab also uses the camps as a refuge and base, and the Kenyans are trying to limit that as well.

 

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