Somalia: Ethiopia Leaves A Vacuum


March 22, 2013: The government considers al Shabaab done, as a major military force and is now considered a threat as bandits and terrorists. The AU (African Union) peacekeepers and government troops continue to chase the Islamic radicals out of towns and villages in central Somalia. There are not enough troops available to police all of Somalia, which in the best of times is a pretty lawless place.

Al Shabaab has lost most of its income (which largely came from the port of Kismayo, extortion from businesses, and aid organizations and donations from overseas). With its income reduced by over 70 percent al Shabaab has a hard time buying supplies and keeping most of its gunmen fed and loyal. Desertions are further decimating al Shabaab, doing more damage than combat losses.

Somali pirates are still holding 65 sailors for ransom and continue to fail at capturing any more ships. The few ships still held may never be ransomed because the pirates are asking for more than the owners, or their insurance companies, can afford or are willing to pay.

March 21, 2013: Putting aside border disputes and other differences, the two statelets of northern Somalia (Somaliland and Puntland) have agreed to cooperate with Kenya, Somalia, and international organizations to battle Islamic terrorism, piracy, and criminal gangs. Both statelets have often accepted bribes from these groups, or acceded to threats, to ignore criminal activity.  Now they promise to cut down on that sort of thing in return for more foreign aid.

March 19, 2013: The U.S. announced $5 million rewards (each) for help in capturing two Americans (Omar Shafik Hammami and Jehad Mostafa) who have been working for al Shabaab since 2006 and 2005. Hammami, who handled Internet propaganda for al Shabaab, has since been condemned to death by al Shabaab leaders who object to some things Hammami said about them. Mostafa appears to still be with al Shabaab, leading a small unit of non-Somali gunmen.

Just across the border in Kenya an al Shabaab bomb killed one police officer and wounded two others.

March 18, 2013: In Mogadishu a suicide car bomber attacked the convoy of the commander of military intelligence, killing ten people and wounding the commander.

March 17, 2013: Ethiopian troops withdrew from the town of Hudur, as part of their planned withdrawal back across the border into Ethiopia. The AU peacekeepers did not have enough soldiers available to replace the Ethiopian garrison right away, and al Shabaab gunmen entered the town several hours later and murdered a local cleric who had opposed Islamic terrorism. The Ethiopians are also packing up in preparation for leaving Baidoa, the largest town in central Somalia. The peacekeepers have troops ready to protect that town.

March 16, 2013: An officer in the presidential guard was arrested after it was discovered that a number of weapons were missing from the armory in the presidential compound.

March 14, 2013: In the Gulf of Aden pirates attacked an Italian cargo ship but were repulsed by some armed marines stationed on the ship for just such situations.

March 12, 2013: The Netherlands revealed that it has found that at least a hundred of its citizens (all Moslems and immigrants or the children of immigrants) are fighting with Islamic terrorists in Somalia, Syria, and Afghanistan. Other European countries report similar numbers. Some of those who were in Somalia have since been reported in Mali or other areas where Islamic terrorists are active. These men are often arrested when they return home and some are prosecuted for known terrorist crimes.

A Greek oil tanker and its crew of 26 were freed three days ago after ten months of captivity. The pirates claim to have received $9.5 million in ransom.




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