Somalia: Kenya Invades

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October 20, 2011: Kenya says its troops have killed at least 75 al Shabaab fighters so far and are over a hundred kilometers inside Somalia. Al Shabaab threatens massive retribution for this invasion, but based on past experience this is unlikely. Ethiopia has frequently invaded Somalia when Somali raiders became a nuisance, and that solved the problem.

Ethiopia had a similar situation five years ago, with Islamic radical Somali troops increasingly active inside Ethiopia (which borders Somalia). So Ethiopia invaded, which it has often done in the past when Somali raiders became a problem. Ethiopia sent some of these troops to Mogadishu, at the behest of the United States, to drive out Islamic radicals (the Islamic Courts Union). The Ethiopians were told that the UN and AU (African Union) would organize a force of 8,000 peacekeepers to relieve the Ethiopian troops. But that went slowly, and after two years, only 3,400 of the peacekeepers have arrived, and they have not done much peacekeeping.

The Ethiopians, like so many others in the region, and the world, are fed up with the political/economic/social mess inside Somalia. So in early 2009, the Ethiopians pulled their troops back to bases just across the border in their Ogaden province, and continued to send in raiding parties when (not if) Somali factions come raiding. This kept the Somali raiders out; as the Somalis were now assured that the better armed (and quite deadly) Ethiopians would come after the raiders in Somalia. The Ethiopians and Somalis have been at it in this way for centuries.

In the past, the Kenyan tribes were not as organized or powerful as the Ethiopians (who have been a local superpower for over a thousand years.) But in this post-colonial world, the Kenyans have a modern trained and equipped military. While the Somalis are still fiercer, they are not bulletproof. The Kenyans have lots of guns and bullets and know how to shoot. To al Shabaab's dismay, the Kenyans keep coming and keep killing. The Somalis will fight back, and the Kenyan troops will suffer casualties, but they won't be run out of Somalia. The Kenyans will make their point, and leave. And, like with the Ethiopians, the border will quiet down. Somalis are not happy about this. For centuries, the Ethiopians were regarded as worthy opponents, while the Kenyan tribes were seen as perennial victims. Now the Kenyans are acting like Ethiopians, and that's a change many Somalis are not happy with.

Kenya has said it wants to clear al Shabaab out of the border area and then help TNG gunmen keep al Shabaab out of this zone, and out of Kenya.

In Mogadishu, small groups of al Shabaab fighters continue battling TNG (Transitional National Government) troops and AU peacekeepers. The TNG is seeking to clear out all al Shabaab forces from the city, as even a small number of them can carry out terrorist attacks.

While more Somali pirates are active this year, they are having a more difficult time against better defended ships. Last year, 28 percent of attacks were successful and 35 ships were taken by October. This year, only 12 percent of attacks were successful and only 24 ships were taken in the same period.

October 19, 2011: Kenyan and TNG officials met in Mogadishu to work out details of how they will coordinate their actions against al Shabaab fighters along the Kenyan border. Kenyan troops entered Somalia three days ago, to find two kidnapped aid workers, and to discourage al Shabaab from crossing the border to plunder and kidnap.

October 18, 2011: In the northern statelet of Puntland, government troops disarmed local militiamen in areas where there had been anti-government violence.

Along the Kenyan border, Kenyan warplanes bombed al Shabaab positions in Somalia. Several thousand Kenyan troops are advancing on the port of Kismayo, which serves as the "capital" for al Shabaab. This is where al Shabaab is believed to be holding the two Spanish doctors they recently kidnapped from Kenya.

In Mogadishu, a car bomb went off near a government building, killing six. Al Shabaab was believed responsible.

France announced that a wheelchair-bound Frenchwoman kidnapped by Somalis from a beach resort in northern Kenya on October 1st, did not long survive her captivity and apparently died within a week of being taken. The victim was quite ill and required medication several times a day. The kidnappers could not provide the medication.

Kenyan police, after being alerted by their counterparts in Britain, arrested two British teenagers near the Somali border. The two boys, aged 17 and 18, were the children of Somalis who had fled to Britain and become citizens there. But al Shabaab uses the Internet to urge young ethnic Somalis to return to Somalia and help establish a religious dictatorship there.

October 17, 2011: Al Qaeda released photos showing al Qaeda representatives dispensing food, cash and other aid in Somalia. Few details were given, but this was apparently an attempt to counter the negative publicity their ally al Shabaab had gotten by preventing foreign aid to reach millions of Somalis.

October 16, 2011: Several thousand Kenyan troops crossed into Somalia, taking with them artillery and armored vehicles. The target is the port of Kismayo, some 200 kilometers to the east.

October 14, 2011:  Kenya vowed to punish al Shabaab, and other criminal groups in southern Somalia, who have been increasingly attacking Kenyans, foreign tourists and refugee camps full of Somalis.

Many foreign aid organizations cut back their work in Kenyan refugee camps until better security is provided. The kidnapping of two Spanish doctors yesterday was just the latest in many attacks by Somali raiders. There have been three such attacks in the last month.

In Mogadishu, a roadside bomb went off, wounding a member of the TNG.

October 13, 2011:  Two Spanish doctors, working for a foreign aid group, were kidnapped from a Kenyan refugee camp and taken back to Somalia, apparently to be held for ransom.

 

 

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