The Islamic Courts Union
vows to continue fighting, no doubt inspired by previous Somali religious
movements that arose to fight foreign invaders, or other Somalis. A century
ago, the British were pestered for years by a Islamic radical leader. They
never could catch the guy, and his movement kept going until the leader died.
The Somalis have a reputation in the region that portrays them as
"tropical Vikings." Somali raiders and bandits have been attacking
neighboring territory, and each other, for as long as anyone can remember. As
the British used to put it, when confronted by an armed Somali, "shoot on
sight, shoot first, shoot to kill and keep shooting." Kenya and Ethiopia
have been the chief victims of these seemingly eternal raids, which persist to
this day. The Somalis are fractious, and have never been able to
establish a Somali state by themselves. The one that did exist for a few decades
late in the 20th century, was set up by the departing colonial power, Britain.
Many Somalis would like to establish a country, but many other Somalis would
rather live the traditional Somali way.
September 2, 2007: U.S. and European warships are patrolling the Somali coast
looking for a pirate "mother ship" that is apparently responsible for
several pirate attacks of late. Crews from several ships that have been stalked
by the pirate ship have provided similar descriptions. So the hunt is on.
September 1, 2007: About ten percent of the
Somali population (over a million people) are refugees (from clan warfare and
natural disasters). The United States provides most of the money and food to
support these people. Meanwhile most of the clan warfare, which has been
endemic to the area for centuries, does not get reported. But because Mogadishu
is safe enough now for reporters to operate, foreigners get the impression that
something special is happening there. The fighting in Mogadishu has, the the last
month, generated 10-20 casualties a day. Most of this is from terror attacks by
the local clans, that have aligned themselves with the Islamic Courts Union
(which is now supported by Eritrea and al Qaeda). The government (clans from
outside the city and Ethiopian troops) are going from neighborhood to
neighborhood and telling the inhabitants to either support the government, or
get out of town. Several hundred civilians a day flee the city each day as a
result of this. Most neighborhood leaders agree to support the government.
Those that don't, or renege, are attacked and driven out.
August 31, 2007: The Chinese ambassador to
Kenya flew into Mogadishu and was taken on a tour of factories and industrial
parks, and then signed economic cooperation and aid agreements with the Somali
government. These include several hundred million dollars to deal with malaria
(mosquito control for the most part) and economic development. China is in the
midst of aggressive attempts to establish economic and diplomatic footholds in
Africa. This includes making deals in areas where no other foreigners will go
(Sudan, Zimbabwe, and now the ultimate no-go zone, Somalia.)