Somalia: Islamic Terrorists Retreat And Reorganize

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September 23, 2010: A month long  al Shabaab offensive in Mogadishu has failed. AU (African Union) peacekeepers, using armored vehicles and better trained infantry, have counter attacked and driven the irregular fighters back. While al Shabaab was often able to chase away Transitional National Government (TNG) and pro-TNG militias (often by having more ammo, with the pro-government gunmen retreating when they ran out). The AU troops, being professionals, rarely ran out of ammo, and were simply more effective on the battlefield. The heavy casualties and minimal gain of territory has caused a shift in al Shabaab tactics. Now al Shabaab is concentrating more on spectacular terror attacks. Al Shabaab is also putting more effort on intimidating or eliminating local media, in order to get more al Shabaab propaganda out there, and less reporting that criticizes the terrorists. This is an admission of defeat, because terror attacks, especially using lots of suicide bombers, is an admission of defeat, and a desperate attempt to terrorize the foe into surrendering. But this is Somalia, and the coalition of clans and warlords that comprise the TNG can just terrorize al Shabaab right back. This gets little publicity, but raids and assassinations are how Somalis roll.

Al Shabaab is moving into Kenya, along with Somali criminal gangs. These two groups plunder and terrorize hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees, and the aid groups that run the refugee camps. Although the refugees are placed in rural areas, there are still plenty of Kenyan victims to the Somali marauders. This is becoming a political issue in Kenya, but forcing the Somali refugees back into Somalia is not practical. The UN and foreign donors would protest, and cut off aid to Kenya. Such a move would also enrage the Somali population in Kenya (a few percent of the 39 million Kenyans). Already, al Shabaab has recruited many young men from this population, and used them to form terrorist cells. The Kenyan government is scrambling to round up these al Shabaab recruits before any terror attacks can be carried out.

Meanwhile, the TNG is using its success in keeping al Shabaab out of TNG controlled Mogadishu to appoint a mayor. The new mayor is known for being anti-corruption, and publicizes how he spends his miniscule budget. Streets are being cleaned and some municipal services are returning. But the TNG remains corrupt and inefficient.

With the help of European money and foreign (Kenyan and Ethiopian) trainers, 3,000 more TNG volunteers are being trained in Ethiopia and Kenya. These men will be ready by the end of the year. The plan is to use them to take more territory from al Shabaab. The problem with the TNG is that it is so corrupt, that supplies and payroll for such troops are stolen, and the troops tend to desert because of that. Western nations that support TNG are trying to persuade TNG officials to ease up on the stealing so that the new troops can accomplish something. It's uncertain if these pleas will have any effect, as the clan leaders and warlords who comprise the TNG see such stealing as their right.

The anti-piracy patrol, having received more maritime patrol aircraft (manned and UAVs), has shifted air patrols farther out into the Indian ocean. The tactic of searching for and destroying mother ships (that enable speedboats to operate a thousand kilometers or more off shore) has made life a lot more difficult for the pirates.

September 21, 2010:  The prime minister of the TNG resigned, after months of feuding with the president of the TNG. The feuds and corruption have crippled the TNG, just like the same flaws have deprived Somalia of any government for the last two decades.

September 20, 2010:  An al Shabaab suicide bomber tried to get into the presidential compound, but was killed, by security forces, before he could do so.

 

 

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