SOMALIA: Ethiopia Leaves A Vacuum
The government considers al
Shabaab done as a major military force and is now considered a threat as
bandits and terrorists. The AU (African Union) peacekeepers and
government troops continue to chase the Islamic radicals out of towns
and villages in central Somalia. There are not enough troops available
to police all of Somalia, which in the best of times is a pretty lawless
Al Shabaab has lost most of its income (which largely came
from the port of Kismayo, extortion from businesses and aid
organizations and donations from overseas). With its income reduced by
over 70 percent al Shabaab has a hard time buying supplies and keeping
most of its gunmen fed and loyal. Desertions are furthering decimating
al Shabaab, doing more damage than combat losses.
Somali pirates are still holding 65 sailors for ransom and
continue to fail at capturing any more ships. The few ships still held
may never be ransomed because the pirates are asking for more than the
owners, or their insurance companies, can afford or are willing to pay.
March 21, 2013: Putting aside border disputes and other
differences the two statelets of northern Somalia (Somaliland and
Puntland) have agreed to cooperate with Kenya, Somalia and international
organizations to battle Islamic terrorism, piracy and criminal gangs.
Both statelets have often accepted bribes from these groups, or acceded
to threats, to ignore criminal activity. Now they promise to cut down
on that sort of thing in return for more foreign aid.
March 19, 2013: The U.S. announced $5 million rewards (each)
for help in capturing two Americans (Omar Shafik Hammami and Jehad
Mostafa) who have been working for al Shabaab since 2006 and 2005.
Hammami, who handled Internet propaganda for al Shabaab, has since been
condemned to death by al Shabaab leaders who object to some things
Hammami said about them. Mostafa appears to still be with al Shabaab,
leading a small unit of non-Somali gunmen.
Just across the border in Kenya an al Shabaab bomb killed one police officer and wounded two others.
March 18, 2013: In Mogadishu a suicide car bomber attacked
the convoy of the commander of military intelligence, killing ten people
and wounding the commander.
March 17, 2013: Ethiopian troops withdrew from the town of
Hudur, as part of their planned withdrawal back across the border into
Ethiopia. The AU peacekeepers did not have enough soldiers available to
replace the Ethiopian garrison right away and al Shabaab gunmen entered
the town several hours later and murdered a local cleric who had opposed
Islamic terrorism. The Ethiopians are also packing up in preparation
for leaving Baidoa, the largest town in central Somalia. The
peacekeepers have troops ready to protect that town.
March 16, 2013: An officer in the presidential guard was
arrested after it was discovered that a number of weapons were missing
from the armory in the presidential compound.
March 14, 2013: In the Gulf of Aden pirates attacked an
Italian cargo ship but were repulsed by some armed marines stationed on
the ship for just such situations.
March 12, 2013: The Netherlands revealed that it has found
that at least a hundred of its citizens (all Moslems and immigrants or
the children of immigrants) are fighting with Islamic terrorists in
Somalia, Syria and Afghanistan. Other European countries report similar
numbers. Some of those who were in Somalia have since been reported in
Mali or other areas where Islamic terrorists are active. These men are
often arrested when they return home and some are prosecuted for known
A Greek oil tanker and its crew of 26 were freed three days
ago after ten months of captivity. The pirates claim to have received
$9.5 million in ransom.