Somalia: Battling For Bucks In The Bakara


July 14, 2007: In response to the reconciliation conference being held in Mogadishu tomorrow, pro-Islamic Courts clans will hold a competing conference in Eritrea. As part of its war with Ethiopia, Eritrea is providing support for clan factions belonging to the Islamic Courts. While Eritrea says it will not support al Qaeda, these Islamic terrorists are tightly allied with the Islamic Courts. Both the Islamic Courts and al Qaeda have threatened to attack the peace conference in Mogadishu. The Ugandan peacekeepers in Mogadishu are acting in a purely defensive manner, and other African nations are reluctant to send their troops in until there's a peace to keep.

July 13, 2007: The battle for the Bakara market in Mogadishu continues, leaving several dead and over a dozen wounded each day. If the local clans lose control of the market, they will suffer a major financial loss. Thus the local clans are fighting hard, and don't care if they interrupt foreign aid groups from bringing in food and medical care.

July 12, 2007: A Chinese oil company (CNOOC, owned by the Chinese government) has made a deal with the Transitional Government, to explore for oil off the Somali coast. These kinds of deals have been made twice before, but have not been carried out because of the banditry on land and piracy at sea. The Transitional Government had to meet in Kenya to negotiate this deal, and will have to pacify Somalia before the deal can be carried out.

July 10, 2007: While fighting between clans has killed about 250 people a month during the first half of the year, attempts to flee across the water to Yemen has killed another 60 a month. That's twice the rate of last year, when some 29,000 Somalis and Ethiopians made it to Yemen from ports in northern Somalia. Many end up in refugee camps, while the rest try to continue north into Saudi Arabia and beyond. So far this year, about 9,000 have made it to Yemen.

July 9, 2007: In Mogadishu, fighting continues in the largest market, the Bakara. There, members of local clans and Islamic Courts throw grenades at soldiers taking control of the market. The troops open fire, killing mostly civilians, whom the grenade throwers hide among.

July 8, 2007: The Mogadishu clans, which used to control the major ports and markets, are fighting for their economic lives. The Transitional Government is controlled by clans from outside Mogadishu, and is moving to control the main sources of income in Mogadishu (merchants pay "protection" to the clan-in-charge). This searches for weapons and terrorists has closed the city's largest market (the Bakara). The Transitional Government is being helped by Ethiopian and, to a lesser extent, AU (African Union) peacekeepers. The Mogadishu clans are fighting for their economic life, and have remained allied with the Islamic Courts members from outside the city. The Islamic Courts has adherents throughout Somalia, and has split many clans. Some warlords and clan leaders side with the Islamic Courts, and some don't.

July 7, 2007: Troops are moving outside Mogadishu and removing clan roadblocks, that charged all traffic a fee to get past. These checkpoints are a major source of income for the members of many clans. But the armed men manning the checkpoints will often beat or kill people who do not give up enough cash or other goods.


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