Tuesday, September 03, 2013
Somalia really isn’t at peace.
Bandits and clan militiamen are still all over the place and these guys
tend to consider themselves a law unto themselves. The only real peace
is in those areas controlled by AU peacekeepers (including Ethiopian and
Kenyan troops.) There is a growing “Green Zone” around the Mogadishu
airport, where most foreign aid groups have set up bases.
government has a growing force of police and soldiers but these are
easily corrupted and often commit crimes rather than prevent them. The
Somali government and most local leaders are very corrupt and foreign
aid groups have to devote a lot of aid money to pay for security and
getting the aid to people who need it. Doctors Without Borders, which
operated most of the medical facilities in the country, recently pulled
out because of the continuing threat to its staff and the high security
expenses. Doctors Without Borders has never fled like this before
because they had never faced as hostile an environment as they have in
Although it’s been over a year since the Somali pirates have
captured a ship, some pirate groups limp along because they are still
holding 97 sailors that no one will pay a ransom for. The sailors all
served on ships operated by small shipping companies that did not have
piracy insurance. The ship owners have abandoned their ships and crews
and the families of the sailors are too poor to offer enough money (over
$100,000 per captive) to satisfy the pirates. If is feared that
eventually the pirates will begin killing some of these captives to
encourage someone to come up with the cash. Since 2005 the Somali
pirates have captured 149 ships and obtained over $300 million in
ransom. Many pirate gangs have disbanded in the last year, but several
remain active and ships are still occasionally stalked by at sea by
August 31, 2013: In the southeast (lower Shabelle region) an
al Shabaab landmine killed several security guards and wounded the
deputy governor of the region.
August 30, 2013: In Mogadishu police arrested 27 suspected al Shabaab members. Weapons and ammo were also seized.
In Somaliland foreign aid workers negotiated an end to a
bloody clan feud that had gone on for two decades. Such blood feuds are
common in Somalia and this one began as a dispute over who a widow
should marry. Many in both clans have long called for settlement but the
foreigners were key in getting the main players to agree to settle.
August 29, 2013: In central Somalia (the Bakool region) al
Shabaab gunmen attacked the town of El Barde, but were repulsed by the
government garrison, which was in turn reinforced by some Ethiopian
troops. Ten people died, including two civilians and the fighting
In the southwest (Gedo) Ethiopian troops fought al Shabaab
gunmen using artillery and infantry. The Ethiopians inflicted some
casualties but suffered none of their own.
August 28, 2013: In Mogadishu a district intelligence chief
was assassinated by persons unknown. Al Shabaab is suspected as the
Islamic terrorists are trying to reestablish themselves in the city and
the government intelligence organization is making that difficult.
August 27, 2013: The government agreed to recognize the
Ras Kamboni militia as dominant power in the area along Kenya
that had earlier declared itself the independent state of Jubbaland. The
peace deal allows the clan behind the Ras Kamboni militia to rule the
area for two years as a semi-autonomous region. After that it’s back to
negotiations. The Ras Kamboni believe that in two years they will be
strong enough to keep Jubbaland independent. The government believes
that in two years they will be strong enough to make Jubbaland a part of
Somalia again. This strategy is also a threat to the two northern
stateless of Puntland and Somaliland. This is not a peace deal but a
ceasefire. Back in June the leader of Ras Kamboni (Ahmed Madobe) had
proclaimed himself the president of Jubaland. Kenya backed Ras Kamboni,
as it always had. The other Jubbaland clans have not accepted Ras
Kamboni as their leader but do not feel strong enough to continue
fighting over the issue. Whoever can maintain control of Kismayo will
grow rich from fees charged businesses to use the port and market
places. That will not go unchallenged because there’s too much money
involved. But right now Ras Kamboni is the most powerful armed force
down there and now it has the tacit backing of the Somali government and
Kenya as well.
August 25, 2013: In Kismayo Kenyan troops and local militia defeated two al Shabaab attacks.
August 23, 2013: In Puntland a car bomb went off near the
presidential palace but caused no injuries. Al Shabaab, which is now
working for a rebellious warlord (based near the Somali border) was
In Mogadishu a Somali Olympic official was killed near a
sports stadium. Al Shabaab was suspected, but business rivals could also
have been responsible.
August 21, 2013: In Kenya, along the Somali border, al Shabaab
gunmen attacked an army patrol but were repulsed with ten of the
In Mogadishu a group of gunmen attempted to kidnap a visiting
Swedish politician. She managed to escape but was wounded. A bodyguard
and another man accompanying her was killed and another Swede was
wounded. The politician had just given a speech at the University of
Somalia and several faculty members were later arrested and accused of
planning the kidnapping.