Somalia: Bloody Mogadishu

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September 9, 2010: A German container ship, seized by pirates off the north coast of Somalia, was retaken by ships from the anti-piracy patrol. The eleven man crew shut the engines down and got to a safe room as the pirates boarded. Warships showed up shortly and convinced the pirates to leave, or be killed.

The pirate warlords up north are not confident that their lucrative business will last a long time. The warlords get most of the ransom, and invest most of it outside Somalia (Kenya and Persian Gulf states are the most popular places.) Not a lot of the money is spent in Somalia, and a lot of that goes for khat (a narcotic drug grown locally), booze and whores. The piracy business has brought a boom town atmosphere to coastal towns that serve as pirate bases, and few expect the boom to last. Meanwhile, the pirates have made deals with the local governments (Somaliland and Puntland) to help repulse al Shabaab intrusions. In return, the government officials leave the pirates alone. This, despite millions of dollars in foreign aid given by Western countries, to obtain cooperation to shut down the pirates. Al Shabaab is trying to establish a presence in the two northern statelets of Somaliland and Puntland. To this end, they are using death squads to assassinate local officials.

The EU (European Union) has pledged another $60 million to AU (African Union) peacekeeping efforts in Somalia. So far, the EU has delivered or pledged nearly $200 million for this effort. Unfortunately, AU nations are reluctant to send troops to Somalia, and Western nations won't even consider sending their own.

Al Shabaab has closed ten health clinics in and around Mogadishu, because they were run by foreign aid groups. Al Shabaab believes the foreign aid workers are un-Islamic. Meanwhile, al Shabaab continues its attacks in Mogadishu. These cause about a hundred casualties daily, most of them civilians caught in the cross fire, and Islamic terrorist gunmen shot down by better trained AU troops. Al Shabaab is trying to push government troops, pro-government militias and AU (African Union) peacekeepers out of more residential areas. But often, the Islamic terrorist gunmen are forced back, repulsed, or leave areas they have taken because of problems elsewhere in the city. AU troops have established nine smaller bases throughout Mogadishu, to limit the mobility of al Shabaab gunmen, and make it easier to respond to al Shabaab attacks.

The Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya has become the largest refugee camp in the world. Containing over 330,000 Somalis fleeing the al Shabaab violence in southern Somalia, about 200 more Somalis arrive daily, many sneaking across the border. Built outside the town of Dadaab, the population in the area is largely ethnic Somali.

September 8, 2010:  Pirates seized an empty cargo ship off the north coast of Somalia, and took its 18 man crew hostage.

 

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