December 7, 2011: In the last week Kenyan ground and air forces have killed over 40 al Shabaab fighters in the south. The Kenyans are playing it safe, using their soldiers to control roads and seek out information on where al Shabaab bases are. The air force follows up on this information, to confirm where these bases are, and then bomb them. American UAVs are also believed involved in the intelligence collecting and may have launched missiles a few times. But the attacks on the al Shabaab bases outside Afmadow (a major trading center inland from the port of Kismayu) involved heavier bombs.
Al Shabaab is changing its name to Imaarah Islamiya. Nothing else will change. The terrorists are having a hard time maintaining control over southern Somalia. Along the Kenyan border local militias and Kenyan troops have put the terrorists on the defensive. Further north, Sufi militias and Ethiopian troops are chasing Islamic radicals out of towns they have long controlled. The Islamic radicals are not defeated, but they are on the defensive.
Although recent rains broke the drought, it will be six months before new crops eliminate the local food shortages. Meanwhile, people will still depend on foreign food aid and the ability to get the aid past al Shabaab gunmen (who oppose such aid.)
December 6, 2011: In Mogadishu, police arrested a suicide car bomber before he could reach his target (the Turkish embassy). The police thought they had persuaded the bomber to disarm the explosives in the car and returned him to the car to do so. But either the bomber made an error or deliberately set off the explosives that killed him, three civilians, and a policeman.
The Kenyan government has agreed to make its troops in Somalia part of the AU (African Union) peacekeeping force. There are over 9,700 AU peacekeepers in Mogadishu. These Amisom (African Union Mission in Somalia) troops have been there for over four years and some Amisom members have been working (but not fighting) in the south, trying to organize TNG (Transitional National Government) and local militia forces to resist al Shabaab. This is what the Kenyan forces have also been doing. By reflagging the Kenyan troops as peacekeepers, Somalis feel less hostile to the Kenyan invasion and it hurts al Shabaab morale. The Islamic radicals had, earlier this year, been forced out of Mogadishu, largely because of the peacekeepers.
December 5, 2011: The UN agreed to increase sanctions against Eritrea, to try and persuade that nation to halt assistance to al Shabaab.
In a Kenyan refugee camp for Somalis, a bomb went off, killing a policeman and wounding three civilians.
December 1, 2011: Last month was a bad one for Somali pirates. There were only twelve attacks, compared to 35 for November 2010. Improved security on merchant ships, including armed guards, has made it more difficult for the pirates to even get close to targets. In response, the pirates have been more frequently spotted farther to the east (the Seychelles Islands and the Indian coast). This has been tough on the Seychelles, where GDP has been down four percent in the last year because of tourists and shipping staying away because of the pirate threat.
The latest international corruption survey found that the most corrupt countries on the planet were North Korea and Somalia.