Somalia: The Stalled Comeback


September 27, 2015: The head of the parliament has given up on his effort to impeach the president. The votes were not available to pull it off. This was about corruption although it was unclear if it was about allocating stolen government funds differently or eliminating the wasteful practice. These days it is probably a little bit of both. The culture of corruption makes it very difficult for foreigners to do business in Somalia because once a Somali official is bought he does not stay bought, especially if there is a major shift in the national leadership. With the violence much reduced Somali politicians and entrepreneurs are seeking foreign investors. There is not much interest because of the reputation for corruption. So anti-corruption groups are gaining more supporters. The current prime minister has spent a lot of time courting new foreign donors and investors, especially traditional Somali trading partners like the oil-rich Arab states in the Persian Gulf. The prime minister is also under pressure to deal with the corruption but is leaving that to parliament as he got his job last December because most Somalis, and members of parliament, wanted more economic growth and less violence. Corruption was considered a less urgent problem. The prime minister is the third one since 2013  The other two resigned after losing out in factional fighting, usually over who would be allowed to steal what. The corruption in Somalia is among the worst in the world and despite threats to halt foreign aid, the plundering continues.

So far this year nearly 5,000 Somalis have returned from Kenya as part of a Kenyan program to persuade Somali refugees to voluntarily return home. Another 4,000 refugees have agreed to return to Somalia and most will do so by the end of the year. Kenya is offering inducements it hopes would persuade at least 100,000 to go back by the end of 2015. That is not going to happen. This is a big step back from the original plan to expel all (over 600,000) legal and illegal Somali refugees in the country. The expulsion threat came in response to ever more horrendous al Shabaab attacks inside Kenya, including an April 2015 al Shabaab massacre of 148 Christian students at a university campus. The UN promised to help with refugee camp security and moving more of the refugees back to Somalia but strongly opposed expulsion. In Somalia politicians and al Shabaab agree that Kenya must stop mistreating Somalis in Kenya and this attitude is used by al Shabaab for recruiting. The Kenyan government recognizes this problem and talks about curbing violence against Somalis in Kenya but controlling popular hatred of and hostility towards Somalis is difficult. This is particularly true because of the recent al Shabaab terror attacks in Kenya and the centuries of Somalis raiding into Kenya. It’s an old problem that does not lend itself to quick or easy solutions. Meanwhile the UN has to cut food supplies (30 percent to 1,520 calories a day) to all the refugees in Kenya (mostly Somali but some from Sudan) because not enough donors could be found. There is only so much donor money out there and many donors seek areas where they believe their money will do the most good. Long term refugees (as with the Somalis in Kenya) are not seen as the best use of donor funds. Currently the UN spends about $115 million a year to feed the refugees in northern Kenya. Nearly half that money comes from the United States. Refugee officials continue having problems maintaining security in the Somali refugee camps and a growing number of foreign aid organizations are withdrawing from some camps because of the chronic violence.

The war with al Shabaab continues on both sides of the border. In Somalia al Shabaab has made a few spectacular counterattacks recently but that has not stopped the advance of peacekeepers and Somali forces into areas long dominated by the Islamic terrorists. Al Shabaab has little public support and Islamic radicalism is no longer seen as a quick cure for what makes Somalia such a difficult place to survive in.

Since mid-September Kenyan troops have been searching the Boni Forest, on the Somali border, for several hundred al Shabaab men believed operating from the 1,300 square kilometer (517 square miles) nature reserve. A week before the operation began the 3,000 people living in the forest were ordered out. The forest is full of animals that generally protected from excessive hunting. The al Shabaab gunmen kill what they want and scare away the tourists so both the locals and the Kenyan government want the Somali Islamic terrorists gone. The troops do not have to scour the entire forest just the several hundred square kilometers where there have been sightings and other signs of outlaw activity. So far the operations appears, at best, to be forcing the al Shabaab men to move as the Islamic terrorists show little inclination to stand and fight. Part of the forest is in Somalia but there are few troops available on that side of the border to help.

September 26, 2015: In the south (Kismayo) a bomb exploded in a restaurant killing a soldier and three civilians. Al Shabaab was suspected.

September 25, 2015: Al Shabaab attacked two military near the central Somalia town of Baladweyne and were repulsed, losing at least 20 dead. The bases were used by peacekeepers and Somali Army troops. The Islamic terrorists are finding the local and foreign troops much more alert to surprise attacks after the first few night time attacks on remote camps.

September 23, 2015: In the south (near Badio town) Somali and Ethiopian troops attacked some al Shabaab men killing ten of the Islamic terrorists, capturing several and destroying three vehicles.

September 21, 2015: In Mogadishu al Shabaab set off a car bomb near the presidential compound, killing eleven and wounding even more. Most of the casualties were civilians.

September 19, 2015: In the south Kenyan troops repulsed three al Shabaab attacks on both sides of the border, killing at least eight of the Islamic terrorists, wounding several others while and capturing some of their weapons and equipment. Troops pursued fleeing attackers and killed at least three more.

September 18, 2015: Al Shabaab made a pre-dawn attack on an army base 100 kilometers south of Mogadishu, killed a dozen soldiers, wounded several more, looted the camp and left. Several of the Islamic terrorists died in the attack but the al Shabaab men felt confident enough to stop in a nearby village and announce that they would soon be back in control of the area.

September 17, 2015: Some 90 kilometers south of Mogadishu al Shabaab reoccupied the town of Janale after Somali troops pulled out. Further south an al Shabaab bomb killed three soldiers at a checkpoint outside Kismayo.

September 14, 2015: in the southeast (Middle Shabelle) al Shabaab beheaded three men they accused of spying for the peacekeepers and being soldiers and trying to keep it a secret from the Islamic terrorists.





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