Somalia: Islamic Terrorists Defeated By Hunger

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July 15, 2011:  The Somali pirates are more active (63 percent more attacks than last year), but less successful (22 percent fewer ships taken.) Last year, the 25 percent of attacks succeeded, this year it's only 12 percent. But that's still 21 ships taken in the first six months of 2010, with each worth a few million in ransom. The incentive is still there.

The TNG (Transitional National Government) claims to control 85 percent of Mogadishu, and predicts that al Shabaab will be forced out completely in the next month. Meanwhile, Shabaab is still fighting with Sufi and other clan militias elsewhere in central and southern Somalia. These same areas are beset by food shortages that have been getting worse over the last two years.

To handle the flood of Somali refugees (fleeing violence and drought), Kenya is building another refugee camp, to hold 80,000 people. This one will be ready in a few weeks. The biggest problem with this is security, as al Shabaab and criminal gangs tend to use the camps as bases, and threaten or kill camp administrators who object. Currently, about 9,000 Somali refugees a week are arriving in Kenya and asking for help. The Kenyan government and international aid agencies disagree over how to deal with the growing violence and criminal activity in the camps. Kenya wants to make arrests and stop the crime, while the aid groups are more inclined to try and bribe the bad guys, and ignore their behavior. Kenya does not go along with this because the Somali gangs often prey on local Kenyans as well. The aid agencies also want to work out deals with al Shabaab, but that has proved difficult. First, al Shabaab wanted too much in bribes and then, over the last two years, the Islamic radicals expelled nearly all the foreign aid workers because the aid was seen as un-Islamic and harmful to local farmers and merchants. But with the drought and food shortage getting worse, some al Shabaab factions are allowing the food, and other, aid into Somalia. They take their cut, as do local warlords and bandits. The crime and violence is increasing along the Kenyan border, forcing merchants to hire more armed guards for their shipments.

July 12, 2011: In central Somalia, fighting resumed between two clans (over water and land access).

July 11, 2011: Western media have noticed a "secret" CIA base in Mogadishu. The walled compound has been there for months, guarded by armed Somalis, but used most frequently by armed foreigners (mostly Americans.) There are plenty of people around with cell phones, so the place was no secret. The CIA denies it has anything to do with the place, TNG officials simply confirm that the compound is part of an American effort to help Somalia fight Islamic radicals.

 

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