Somalia: Ethiopia Quietly Rejoins The War

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November 30, 2011: The al Shabaab ban on 16 Western aid agencies means that over a million starving Somalis will have less, or no, food. At least for a while. Moslem aid agencies were allowed to remain, along with a few Western ones. But the banned groups were handling most of the aid, and they were not only run out of al Shabaab territory, but most of their assets (equipment, vehicles and supplies) were seized by al Shabaab. So the other groups will have to bring in replacement gear before the needed relief aid can be restored.

Kenyan troops operating north of the Kenyan border are protecting foreign aid groups there, although some of the aid workers complain that this risks retaliation from al Shabaab after the Kenyans leave. Kenya is trying to avoid that by strengthening local militias to keep al Shabaab out. Meanwhile, the Kenyan troops have discovered and destroyed several al Shabaab training camps. They found evidence that many Kenyans (ethnic Somalis) were trained to either fight in Somalia, or return to Kenya to carry out terror attacks.

The Kenyan military operations in southern Somalia have been limited by the heavy rains (it is the rainy season), but Kenyan Air Force warplanes continue to seek out, and sometimes attack al Shabaab bases. The air force has to wait for breaks in the weather, and all the rain, and mud, slows down army operations. After six weeks of this, four Kenyan soldiers have died in combat. Over a hundred have been sidelined by disease and accidents. Al Shabaab is avoiding direct confrontation with the Kenyan troops, who are well armed and trained for gun battles. Many of the al Shabaab gunmen are teenagers, who have learned their battle tactics from TV and movies. The Kenyan presence on the ground is thin, and al Shabaab fighters can still move freely if they avoid roads and settlements full of people who hate them. There is cell phone service in some of the border area, and now a call can bring in someone who will chase the al Shabaab thugs away.

The Kenyan Navy is aggressively patrolling the southern Somali coast, arresting young men in speedboats. Al Shabaab is believed to have many speedboats available for raids or smuggling (stuff into and out of Kenya.)

A bomb went off in Mogadishu, killing four TNG (Transitional National Government) soldiers. That brings to 11 the number of people killed in Mogadishu over the last three days by al Shabaab roadside bombs.

November 28, 2011: In central Somalia, al Shabaab gunmen raided the compounds of 16 Western aid groups, stole everything and sent the relief workers (most of them Somalis) fleeing.

November 27, 2011:  Near the Kenyan border, al Shabaab beheaded two men, apparently to encourage locals to remain loyal to al Shabaab, and not aid the Kenyan troops operating in the area.

November 26, 2011:  Several hundred Ethiopian troops, along with armored vehicles, have advanced into Central Somalia, apparently to assist a local militia to expel al Shabaab fighters.

In northern Kenya, a group of al Shabaab attacked police guarding a cell phone tower. The police fled, and al Shabaab looted the police gear and destroyed the cell phone tower.

November 25, 2011: Ethiopian, Kenyan, Djiboutian and Somali leaders have met in the Ethiopian capital to work out how the four governments would cooperate against al Shabaab. Apparently Ethiopia has agreed to become more active along their Somali border, and provide military assistance to Somali militias battling al Shabaab.

Somali pirates released an Italian ship, after seven months' captivity. A ransom was apparently paid.

November 24, 2011: Greece will now allow Greek merchant ships, and the 500 foreign ships flying the Greek flag, to carry armed security teams, of up to six armed men each. Greek sailors and ship captains had long opposed this, because they felt it would encourage the pirates to be more violent. But in the last year, several other nations have allowed thousands of ships to carry armed guards, and this has, so far, made those ships with armed guards immune to capture.

Just south of the Somali border, a Kenyan soldier was killed, and several wounded, when an army truck was hit by a roadside bomb.

November 23, 2011: Kenyan warplanes bombed two al Shabaab camps, located 30 kilometers north of the Kenyan border. Most residents of a nearby town, Badade, fled.

November 22, 2011: The UN has extended for another year the permission for anti-piracy forces to enter Somali territorial waters to deal with Somali pirates. So far, this permission has mostly been used to put captured, and disarmed, Somali pirates on a beach. This is called "catch and release." Some nations practice "catch and kill", but they usually don't report these incidents.

A bomb went off in Mogadishu, killing eight civilians.

 

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