Somalia: Let Them Starve


August 19,2008:  In Djibouti, the Transitional National Government (TNG) formally signed a peace deal with Islamic radical factions. The deal calls for African Union (AU) peacekeepers to replace Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu. That seems to be a remote possibility at the moment, because only 2,500 of the needed 8,000 peacekeepers have arrived, and they are not doing much peacekeeping (mainly just guarding their own compounds.)

The battle for control of Mogadishu, which began in early 2007, has so far killed over 10,000 people (most of them civilians, although it's difficult to separate civilians from fighters in this part of the world), and caused over 800,000 refugees to flee the city. There are now over 2.5 million people dependent on foreign food aid to survive. This is becoming increasingly difficult as clan gunmen increasingly turn to the foreign aid organizations as a source of loot. Not content with extracting bribes from trucks carrying food aid, the clan militias have stepped up their extortion and kidnapping activities. Somali employees of foreign food aid organizations are the easiest targets, as foreign officials (at least the few still in the country) are heavily guarded. In the north (Somaliland and Puntland) local governments are strong enough to fight back against this terrorism. But in the south, it's becoming more and more difficult to get food into the country, and distribute it. Foreign donors are not stepping up to buy the needed food. That's because so much of previous food donations were stolen by bandits, clan militias or Islamic terrorists. Only about a third of the money needed has been pledged, and the UN fears it may have to severely ration aid by the end of the year.

August 12, 2008: The president of the Transitional National Government (TNG) reinstated the mayor of Mogadishu (a powerful local warlord), after the mayor had been dismissed by the TNG prime minister. The TNG is barely holding together in the face of the usual clan politics and feuds. Islamic terrorists have come to Somalia to provide technical assistance for suicide and roadside bombings. These mostly kill civilians, and are not frequent enough to have any impact on the political situations.

In the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Puntland, pirates seized a Thai cargo ship. It was also reported that, earlier, pirates had also seized a Nigerian seagoing tugboat in the same area.


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