Somalia: The Great Dying Commences

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September 6, 2011: The Sufi militias of Ahlu Sunna Waljama (ASW) are gradually clearing Islamic terrorists from central Somalia. ASW gunmen are going from village to village, arresting known al Shabaab supporters, and killing those that resist. Al Shabaab is making itself more unpopular because of attempts to tax farmers and merchants. Al Shabaab is short of cash, and trying to get it from the locals (during the longest drought in decades). This is producing armed resistance. Al Shabaab has also made itself unpopular by arresting and executing those it suspects are spying on them. That could be just about anyone. As a result, when ASW gunmen show up, al Shabaab finds that most of the locals back the Sufi group.

Al Shabaab is becoming increasingly arbitrary and cruel towards civilians. In some areas, people are being restricted to their homes during the day, and businesses not allowed to open. Al Shabaab is also arresting, torturing, and often executing, suspected spies. Al Shabaab leaders are openly complaining about desertions and the loss of fighting spirit among al Shabaab members. Some al Shabaab factions have been beheading deserters, or civilians suspected of working against the Islamic terrorist group.

The UN issued lurid (and partly true) predictions that 700,000 or more people could starve to death before the end of the month. This was in an effort to get more food aid donated by member nations. But donors still doubt that additional aid will get to the starving. Corruption, Islamic terrorists and bandits appear to be taking most of the food sent in, and donors don’t want to waste foreign aid that way. The UN only has access to about a quarter of the four million people starving in southern Somalia. Access to the rest is blocked largely by al Shabaab, plus corrupt transportation contractors and local warlords.

Kenyans are growing hostile to the increasing number of Somalis crossing the border and setting up homes in refugee camps. The refugees are exhausting wood supplies and depleting scarce water. Even though the Kenyans are largely ethnic Somalis themselves, they feel overwhelmed by the never-ending flood of refugees (nearly 50,000 a month).

September 4, 2011: Another round of national reconciliation talks have begun in Mogadishu. This process is meant to replace the corrupt and ineffective TNG (Transitional National Government) with something better. While Puntland is participating, Somaliland and al Shabaab are not. The meeting intends to arrange elections next year for a new president and legislature. The TNG has been around for seven years, and has accomplished very little.

September 2, 2011: Up north in Puntland, there have been two days of fighting in Galkayo, the second largest town in the self-declared state. There have been several hundred casualties and at least sixty killed. But now there is a ceasefire, and an attempt to negotiate a settlement. The Puntland government blamed al Shabaab for stirring up separatist violence in Galkayo. At the moment, the government is in control. Galkayo is on the border with Central Somalia. This area, and the region south of Mogadishu, have been lawless for the last two decades. Al Shabaab has been trying to expand into the peaceful north (Puntland and Somaliland.)

September 1, 2011: In Mogadishu, TNG forces and peacekeepers have been searching homes for weapons and bombs, and have been finding both. Al Shabaab still has supporters in Mogadishu, and some of them are known. That made it easier to select which buildings to search.

August 30, 2011:  In Mogadishu, one group of TNG soldiers sought to stop other TNG troops from stealing food aid. A gun battle broke out, which left nine soldiers and six civilians dead. Corruption among TNG soldiers and Somali aid workers (paid by foreign aid organizations) is common.  

August 28, 2011: In Mogadishu, a roadside bomb went off near a peacekeeper convoy, but missed the soldiers. Two civilians were wounded, one of them dying later.

August 27, 2011: In Mogadishu, police seized a car full of explosives, and apparently intended for use as a suicide car bomb.

 

 

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