November 15, 2012: Iran announced it would open an embassy in Mogadishu. While this might bring foreign aid, it is more likely to bring Iranian assistance for Islamic terrorists. Turkey, on the other hand, opened an embassy in Mogadishu last year and has since introduced several aid programs. The most recent one involves rebuilding the parliament building and repairing years of battle damage.
There are more foreign aid organizations coming into Mogadishu, Baidoa, and Kismayu. These aid groups have learned to hire their own security and stay in touch with nearby peacekeepers. Somali troops and police can be very dangerous, mainly because they lack effective commanders.
The new constitution recognizes that Somalia has been partitioned and will likely stay that way. But the government in Mogadishu still tries to assert authority in places where it doesn’t have any. This is especially the case in Jubaland (in the south, along the Kenyan border and including the recently liberated Kismayu). Territory controlled by al Shabaab (rural areas of Central Somalia) and the pirates (some towns in the north) are up for grabs.
The legitimate statelets are (from north to south) Somaliland (in the northwest), Puntland (the north), and Galmudog (a breakaway portion of southern Puntland that is now a base for several hundred al Shabaab gunmen). Central Somalia is contested by al Shabaab, local militias (especially the Sufi ones), the transitional government troops, and African Union peacekeepers (mainly in Mogadishu) and Ethiopian troops (and some local militias) all along the Ethiopian border and the major city of Baidoa. In the south several thousand Kenyan troops crossed the border and helped some local militias form the far south into a new mini-state: Jubaland (also known as Azania). The “national Somali government” is propped up by AU (African Union) peacekeepers, plus troops from neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya and lots of foreign aid. All this is mainly to prevent any of Somalia from becoming a terrorist sanctuary. Somalia’s internal problems (corruption, tribalism, and a tradition of violence) are less of a worry because those curses are much more difficult to cure. For example, with Mogadishu now largely free of al Shabaab, a major problem is the new police force, which tends to commit most of the crimes. Looting and assault by cops is common and the government seems unable to do anything about it.
November 14, 2012: In Kenya a grenade went off in a supermarket in a Somali neighborhood of Nairobi. One person was wounded and al Shabaab was suspected. The perpetrator was captured by police.
November 12, 2012: Al Shabaab ambushed an Ethiopian military convoy 15 kilometers east of Baidoa. There were casualties on both sides.