Somalia: Back to the Bad Old Days


January30, 2007: In Mogadishu, the battle for control of the city continues, as it has since the early 1990s. Those clans that sided with the Islamic Courts are now on the outs, and are believed to be supplying the gunmen who are firing at policemen, and police stations. A few mortar shells have been fired into residential areas. This sort of thing will go on until one side or the other sufficiently intimidates the other to halt the violence. That kind of peace usually doesn't last long. It's basically gang warfare, with the gangs fighting over control of territory. The businesses in that territory pay protection money. The Islamic Courts were popular because they just took the money, and did not allow their gunmen to freely engage in petty theft and rape within those territories. The clan chiefs and gang leaders often allowed that sort of misbehavior because it saved them money (they could pay their gunmen less).

January 29, 2007: Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi have agreed to send peacekeepers to Somalia, but Rwanda and South Africa have refused. The African Union (AU) is trying to get 8,000 peacekeepers into Somalia, to replace the same number of Ethiopian troops. So far, the AU has commitments for only 4,000 troops, and even those donor nations are reluctant to move into Somalia, and the violence so typical of that place.

January 28, 2007: A third of Ethiopias troops in Somalia have been withdrawn. Ethiopia appears determined to get out as quickly as possible. The Ethiopians have told the Transitional Government that, if the Islamic Courts regain control of the country, the Ethiopian army will come in again. But that, and some military advisors and trainers, is as far as the Ethiopians will go in helping the Transitional Government.

January 27, 2007: Kenya continues to arrest Islamic Courts officials at the border, or inside Kenya. Over 4,000 Somalis are stalled at the border, with Kenya refusing to let them enter. In the last year, Kenya has accepted over Somali 50,000 refugees, and does not want the Islamic Courts setting up shop in those refugee camps. If that happened, the camps would become bases for a guerilla war in Somalia, and Kenya would be in the middle of it. U.S. Special Forces troops have been spotted in Kenya and Somalia. In Kenya they usually wear civilian clothes. The U.S. commandos are trying to round up as many Islamic radicals as possible.

January 24, 2007: The Transitional Government says it is now in control of the entire country. Sheikh Sharif Ahmad, the chief financial official of the Islamic courts is under arrest in Kenya, and the Transitional Government in Somalia wants him. Ahmad was arrested three days ago, as he tried to enter Kenya and seek asylum. Meanwhile, in Mogadishu, clans opposed to the Transitional Government supported violence against Ethiopian troops. This consisted of a few mortar shells fired at the airport, and some shots fired at Ethiopian troops. At least one Ethiopian soldier was killed in the last two days. The Ethiopians fire back, and several of the attackes have been killed.

January 23, 2007: Ethiopia began moving some of its troops back to Ethiopia. Truckloads of troops could be seen moving off towards the Ethiopian border. Meanwhile, some Ethiopian troops were still fighting remnants of the Islamic Courts, which include dozens of foreign Islamic radicals. Another American air strike was involved in these operations.


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