Somalia: Even The Starving Must Pay

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September 23, 2011:  Over 60 foreign aid organizations have rushed to Somalia to try and mitigate the effects of the drought and food shortage. These groups often get in each other's way and work at cross-purposes. But most of the groups have united to demand that the TNG (Transitional National Government) allow free movement of aid supplies into al Shabaab territory. But the TNG fears that al Shabaab will use the aid trucks to smuggle weapons and explosives. The aid groups also want to back off on interfering with bribes paid to al Shabaab to allow passage of food aid. The aid groups have also called for an immediate halt to the fighting. This would be difficult, because the primary aggressor is al Shabaab, which is on a Mission from God and not inclined to take advice from foreigners (most of whom are infidels). The TNG and Sufi militias are trying to free people from oppressive al Shabaab rule. Current estimates are that nearly a million Somalis are close to death by starvation in al Shabaab controlled areas. Many al Shabaab members oppose the group's policy to obstructing the free movement of food aid, but so far the hardliners remain in control.

Al Shabaab has long depended on extorting cash from aid groups to keep their gunmen supplied and fighting. Meanwhile, al Shabaab is refusing to allow refugees to reach TNG controlled areas or Kenya, forcing the starving people to return to their villages. Al Shabaab is supplying some food, and promises more. Apparently al Shabaab is demanding that foreign aid groups turn the food over to the terrorists, who will then handle distribution (and get credit for feeding starving Somalis.)

The pirates based in Puntland up north are also doing their bit for the starving. The pirates continue to stalk and attack ships carrying food aid. These ships now require armed exports to get to Somali ports.

While all large organized groups of al Shabaab left Mogadishu, many individual al Shabaab men remained, and they continue to carry out terror attacks. As a result, many people in the city are still terrorized.

Al Shabaab and TNG gunmen continue to face each other in the south, around the town of Eil Waq on the Kenyan boder. Over a week of skirmishing has caused over 30,000 civilians to flee.

September 20, 2011: Al Shabaab sponsored a Koran recitation (from memory) contest. The top two winners received AK-47s, while the third place winner received two hand grenades. The teenage winners were urged to use their weapons as soon as possible.

September 18, 2011: The TNG has banned aid groups from entering areas controlled by al Shabaab. This is to prevent any aid workers from getting kidnapped (and the TNG getting called on to rescue the hostages). The ban also prevents al Shabaab from stealing part of the aid, and demanding bribes from the aid groups to allow the rest through.

September 17, 2011: The Sufi Ahlu Suna Waljama militias have declared all-out war against al Shabaab. Sufis are believers in a more mystical form of Islam, and are looked down on by many radical Sunni groups. But the Somali Sufis got tired of being harassed by al Shabaab, and have armed and organized themselves for defense over the last two years. Last year, the Sufi militias became allies with the TNG.

In Mogadishu, a roadside bomb went off near an AU peacekeeper convoy, but did not do any damage.

September 16, 2011: Al Shabaab announced a new war against the TNG. This came in the wake of the al Shabaab retreat from Mogadishu last month, with the promise that the Islamic terrorists would be back with new tactics and new vigor.

Overnight, aircraft were heard outside the al Shabaab controlled port of Kismayo, along with at least three explosions. This was believed to be American UAVs firing rockets at al Shabaab members.

 

 

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