Somalia: Persistent Pirates Prevail


June 15, 2007: There are five pirate gangs operating along the coast, and they have seized ten ships so far this year, and attacked about twice as many. This is double the rate during last year. Ransoms can be as high as $2.5 million per ship, but are usually a few hundred thousand dollars. That's big money in this part of the world, and pays for dozens of speedboats full of AK-47 and RPG toting pirates equipped with GPS locators and satellite phones. Shipping and insurance companies are calling for foreign navies to enter Somali waters and kill the pirates, who sometimes even attack ships carrying UN food aid. So far, no foreign navy has stepped forward to take on the task, which would involve some fighting in the coastal villages where the pirates have their bases. It's also likely that the pirates would threaten to kill some of the 30 sailors they hold hostage, as a way to get a foreign navy to back off. Few admirals want to deal with that kind of bad publicity.

June 14, 2007: In Baidoa, Islamic terrorists tossed a grenade into a crowd of people watching a video of an Indian movie. Four were killed and six wounded. Such entertainments are considered sinful by the Islamic conservatives who formed the Islamic Courts. No longer strong enough to confront people openly, the Islamic radicals are now resorting to terror tactics against sinful civilians.

June 13, 2007: In Mogadishu, clan militiamen angry over lost power (and money), have been sniping at Ethiopian bases and check points at night. Day attacks are much riskier, because if the Ethiopians find out where you are hiding, they will tear down the entire neighborhood. Islamic terrorists continue to attempt suicide attacks against government leaders and Ethiopian troops. But the local terrorists have not quite gotten the hang of it yet, and most of the attacks are failing.

June 12, 2007: Police seized a car full of explosives headed for the capital. Suspicious civilians tipped off the cops. The Islamic terrorist bombing campaign is not popular with most Somalis, because most of the casualties are innocent bystanders.

June 11, 2007: The Hawiye clan, which is the most powerful in Mogadishu, has refused to attend a peace conference. The Hawiye clan had joined the Islamic Courts, because the Islamic group had promised that most Hawiye economic assets (especially monopolies and trading advantages) would not be messed with. Such is not the case with the new government, and the Hawiye clan is not happy. The Hawiye see their traditional rivals, the Darod, as trying to move in, especially since the president of the Transitional Government is a Darod.

June 10, 2007: Police in the capital arrested sixteen Islamic Courts terrorists, and seized large quantities of weapons and bomb making material.

June 9, 2007: Eritrea is hosting a rival Somali government, composed of representatives from the Islamic Courts, a few (of dozens) clans that oppose the current coalition government. and Somali separatists from Ethiopia (Ogaden). Eritrea is doing this mainly because of a border dispute (over a patch of desert) with Ethiopia. Politics gets very petty and vindictive in this part of the world, as it does everywhere else.




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