Somalia: Something Will Have To Be Done

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December 26, 2011:  Kenyan police have arrested six ethnic Somalis as suspected al Shabaab members and are asking the public's assistance in finding two others. All are believed trying to organize terror attacks inside Kenya.

Kenyan troops in Somalia are moving to clear al Shabaab fighters from the main road to the city (the third largest in Somalia) of Baidoa, which is 256 kilometers northwest of Mogadishu. The Kenyan force in Somali continues to operate cautiously, as do the al Shabaab forces they confront. Al Shabaab has avoided fighting the Kenyans, who, it turns out, had planned this move into Somalia for two years but were unable to get aid groups to agree to move across the border. The local clan militias are willing to move into villages and towns al Shabaab has withdrawn from, but all the military activity has hurt the economy and sent more civilians fleeing to Kenyan refugee camps. The Kenyan invasion force hopes to force al Shabaab out of the port of Kismayo without a fight. But al Shabaab appears to be preparing to defend Kismayo, so the battle for the city may be more of a siege that could go on for a while.

In Mogadishu, Somali and peacekeeper troops have cleared most of the city of al Shabaab gunmen. But the Islamic terrorists are still based in the suburbs and peacekeepers closely monitor traffic coming into the city. The sharp decline in violence has led to more economic activity, even rebuilding in devastated neighborhoods. Bombed and pockmarked buildings are being repaired. Debris is being cleared away and roads long blocked are reopened. But the place is still largely devastated from two decades of violence.

Britain believes there are more British Moslems receiving terrorist training in Somalia than in Pakistan, or anywhere else in the world. Britain does not suggest that Western nations move troops into Somalia but if Somalia becomes a major source of international terrorism something will have to be done.

China has donated $4.7 million to the UN peacekeeping operation in Somalia and has said it will later donate military equipment for the peacekeepers there as well.

The Somali pirates are holding 200 sailors, 151 of them from ships being held for ransom. The other 49 were on ships that were sunk or that were released and it's unclear how these men will be ransomed. The pirates have kept some sailors from ships that were ransomed, violating the ransom deal. These prisoners are used to pressure foreign governments to release captured pirates. In the last three years, the pirates have taken 2,317 merchant ship sailors and held them for an average of five months.

December 24, 2011: In Kenya, near the Somali border, someone threw a grenade into a bar, wounding seven people. This was believed to be the work of al Shabaab.

December 23, 2011: Al Shabaab and Kenyan troops clashed near the Kenyan border, leaving ten al Shabaab fighters dead, including a known terrorist leader.

The Netherlands will provide marine infantry to serve on a UN cargo ship that moves aid supplies from Kenya to several Somali ports. The marines will arrive in Kenya next month and serve for six months.

In central Somalia, 30 kilometers from the Ethiopia border, three foreign aid workers were shot dead by unidentified gunmen. The area is the scene of frequent fighting between al Shabaab and local militias.

December 22, 2011: Kenyan police are seeking two unidentified al Shabaab assassins who are believed to be in the country to kill senior government officials.

December 21, 2011: For the second time in a week, members of the TNG (Transitional National Government) parliament brawled in the parliament meeting place over who shall be the new speaker of parliament. Fists and furniture were used as weapons but there were no serious injuries.

In the northern statelet of Puntland pirates released an Italian tanker, including 22 crewmen, for an $11 million ransom. The ship had been held for ten months.

December 20, 2011: Kenya revealed that two air strikes on the Somali village of Hosungow were aimed at an al Shabaab base where terror attacks on Kenyan refugee camps were planned. Kenya claims that 18 al Shabaab members were killed in these air raids but al Shabaab claims that at least a dozen civilians were killed.

In Mogadishu, the first 250 of 850 peacekeepers arrived (by air) from Djibouti. Located on Somalias' northwestern border, Djibouti contains many ethnic Somalis.

December 19, 2011:  A landmine went off in a Kenyan refugee camp killing a Kenyan policeman. The camp holds hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees and has been the target of over a dozen al Shabaab attacks. The terrorists are trying to intimidate Kenyan security forces in the camp so that it is easier for al Shabaab to base its supporters there.

December 18, 2011: In Mogadishu, a Turkish firm has nine of its personnel on site to help rebuild the airport. Locals will be hired to help with the effort, but technical assistance and key equipment will come from Turkey. Moslem countries have been increasingly active in providing aid to Somalia. The Moslem aid workers are somewhat less likely to be harassed or driven away by al Shabaab.

 

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