Somalia: Willing To Kill For Food

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August 10, 2011: With most of al Shabaab out of Mogadishu, aid groups are moving food in and plan to feed nearly 200,000 hungry refugees by the end of the month. Meanwhile the police force of the TNG (Transitional National Government) has moved into areas abandoned by al Shabaab and attempted to establish order. But the clan and warlord militias will eventually attempt to take control of these neighborhoods, and that could get messy. The clans seek to protect members, while the warlords are out for any moneymaking opportunity. At present, the two big ones are control of the two main markets in the city (Bakara and Suq Baad). Whoever controls a large market can impose a “tax” on merchants (for “protection”). The TNG police are expected to do this, and indulge in all manner of criminal behavior. The foreign backers of the TNG have urged the TNG leadership to try and keep the police honest. This is unlikely to happen, as a badge is seen as a license to steal.  The AU peacekeepers in Mogadishu are asking for 3,000 more troops, to take control of parts of the city recently abandoned by al Shabaab. The AU does not trust the TNG troops or police either. Over a hundred thousand starving people are believed to be headed for Mogadishu, where food aid distribution centers and refugee camps are being established. During the last three months, about 100,000 people are believed to have died from the famine in southern Somalia. About 40 percent of the 7.5 million people in this area are controlled by al Shabaab, and have limited access to food aid. That, however, appears to be changing.

Al Shabaab is falling apart because of the famine and differences of opinion with foreign terrorists. Many Somali al Shabaab leaders want to concentrate on helping their families and members of their clan survive the drought. The foreign Islamic radicals are less concerned with this, and don’t seem to care how many Somalis die from starvation. It’s the foreign terrorists who have been preventing Somalis from fleeing to areas where there is food aid (which is forbidden in al Shabaab controlled areas). To the foreign Islamic radicals, death by starvation is “God’s Will” and not to be messed with.  But over the last few months, some al Shabaab factions have been allowing food aid into their territory. Disagreements over this are said to have led to some fighting between al Shabaab factions. This is all part of the self-destructive nature of al Shabaab economic policy. The Islamic radicals believe that being religiously pure as more important than ensuring that people can make a living.

August 9, 2011: The TNG has offered amnesty to the remaining al Shabaab gunmen in Mogadishu. Those that refuse this offer will be hunted down and killed.

August 8, 2011: Some 13 kilometers south of Mogadishu, a suicide car bomb detonated prematurely, killing the bomber and his handler. Apparently, while al Shabaab has withdrawn its combat units from Mogadishu, it is still pressing its assassination and terror campaign against the TNG.

August 6, 2011: Al Shabaab suddenly withdrew from Mogadishu, at least most of them did. When peacekeepers and TNG troops moved into former al Shabaab controlled neighborhoods, they encountered some gunfire from a few al Shabaab gunmen who did not get the word, or decided to stay and fight. Al Shabaab apparently left because they had lost control of the Bakara market, which was a major source of income (from extortion) and supplies (often stolen). Over the last few months, peacekeepers and TNG troops had pushed al Shabaab out of much of their most lucrative neighborhoods. Then there was the drought and the growing food shortage. Al Shabaab was suffering more and more desertions as members left to take care of their extended families. Al Shabaab said they would be back.

August 5, 2011: Turkey has called a meeting of Moslem countries to organize aid for the starving in Somalia and neighboring countries. The Moslem world has long been criticized for allowing the West to take the lead in such charity work.

In Mogadishu, some soldiers sought to steal some food from a food aid distribution center. When refugees, who were lined up to receive food, saw this, they rushed in to grab some food. The troops responded by opening fire on the refugees, killing ten and wounding many more. The refugees dispersed and the troops got away with their stolen food. There is expected to be more of this sort of thing, despite efforts by TNG backers to persuade Somali leaders to impose some discipline and ethics on the gunmen under their command.

 

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