Somalia: Partition


August 31, 2006: The Islamic Courts are trying to move into the separatist Puntland region. In recent weeks the Puntland government has exiled or jailed scores of clerics who have entered the region preaching the need for people to accept Islamic law, and rule by the Islamic Courts.
Puntland has already asked for'and apparently received'military support from Ethiopia. This has prompted Eritrea, which is engaged in cold war with Ethiopia, to ship equipment to the Islamic Courts, perhaps as a way of opening a new 'front' in its confrontation with Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Courts has begun cracking down on piracy and smuggling. Aside from trying to block the import of luxury goods and items prohibited by Islamic law, such as booze, the Islamic Courts wants to stop the export of charcoal and exotic animals, which many religious leaders argue are degrading the already fragile environment. The Islamic Courts has also called for an end to piracy. These measures may create problems. Some of the tribal and warlord militias that have provided it with the muscle with which to seize control of most of central and southern Somalia are deeply involved in these lucrative activities, and may decide to withdraw their support for the Islamic Courts.
August 28, 2006: The Islamic Courts and the transitional government have agreed to resume peace talks in Sudan on September 2nd. Despite much posturing, the Islamic Courts apparently do not want to go to war with Ethiopia, which is supporting the transitional government. At the moment, Somalia is, in effect, partitioned into four separate entities. In the north there are the unrecognized states of Puntland and Somaliland, which organized functioning governments in the late 1990s. But now, the Islamic Courts have taken control of most of the southern Somalia, leaving the transitional government with parts of central Somalia.
August 24, 2006: The Islamic Courts in Mogadishu have reopened the port and airport, both for full time operations. This has not happened in the last eleven years, during which both facilities were only used sporadically. The Islamic Courts militias have also swept most of the gangs of armed men from the streets. Illegal activity is also being driven from the street. This includes selling things like marijuana, weapons and pornography (which includes tame foreign movie videos).




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