September 3, 2013:
Somalia really isn’t at peace. Bandits and clan militiamen are still all over the place and these guys tend to consider themselves a law unto themselves. The only real peace is in those areas controlled by AU peacekeepers (including Ethiopian and Kenyan troops). There is a growing “Green Zone” around the Mogadishu airport, where most foreign aid groups have set up bases. The Somali government has a growing force of police and soldiers but these are easily corrupted and often commit crimes rather than prevent them. The Somali government and most local leaders are very corrupt and foreign aid groups have to devote a lot of aid money to pay for security and getting the aid to people who need it. Doctors Without Borders, which operated most of the medical facilities in the country, recently pulled out because of the continuing threat to its staff and the high security expenses. Doctors Without Borders has never fled like this before because they had never faced as hostile an environment as they have in Somalia.
Although it’s been over a year since the Somali pirates have captured a ship, some pirate groups limp along because they are still holding 97 sailors that no one will pay a ransom for. The sailors all served on ships operated by small shipping companies that did not have piracy insurance. The ship owners have abandoned their ships and crews and the families of the sailors are too poor to offer enough money (over $100,000 per captive) to satisfy the pirates. If is feared that eventually the pirates will begin killing some of these captives to encourage someone to come up with the cash. Since 2005, the Somali pirates have captured 149 ships and obtained over $300 million in ransom. Many pirate gangs have disbanded in the last year, but several remain active and ships are still occasionally stalked at sea by armed pirates.
August 31, 2013: In the southeast (lower Shabelle region) an al Shabaab landmine killed several security guards and wounded the deputy governor of the region.
August 30, 2013: In Mogadishu police arrested 27 suspected al Shabaab members. Weapons and ammo were also seized.
In Somaliland foreign aid workers negotiated an end to a bloody clan feud that had gone on for two decades. Such blood feuds are common in Somalia, and this one began as a dispute over who a widow should marry. Many in both clans have long called for settlement but the foreigners were key in getting the main players to agree to settle.
August 29, 2013: In central Somalia (the Bakool region) al Shabaab gunmen attacked the town of El Barde but were repulsed by the government garrison, which was in turn reinforced by some Ethiopian troops. Ten people died, including two civilians, and the fighting continues.
In the southwest (Gedo) Ethiopian troops fought al Shabaab gunmen using artillery and infantry. The Ethiopians inflicted some casualties but suffered none of their own.
August 28, 2013: In Mogadishu a district intelligence chief was assassinated by persons unknown. Al Shabaab is suspected, as the Islamic terrorists are trying to reestablish themselves in the city and the government intelligence organization is making that difficult.
August 27, 2013: The government agreed to recognize the
Ras Kamboni militia as the dominant power in the area along Kenya that had earlier declared itself the independent state of Jubbaland. The peace deal allows the clan behind the Ras Kamboni militia to rule the area for two years as a semi-autonomous region. After that it’s back to negotiations. The Ras Kamboni believe that in two years they will be strong enough to keep Jubbaland independent. The government believes that in two years they will be strong enough to make Jubbaland a part of Somalia again. This strategy is also a threat to the two northern stateless of Puntland and Somaliland. This is not a peace deal but a ceasefire. Back in June the leader of Ras Kamboni (Ahmed Madobe) had proclaimed himself the president of Jubaland. Kenya backed Ras Kamboni, as it always had. The other Jubbaland clans have not accepted Ras Kamboni as their leader but do not feel strong enough to continue fighting over the issue. Whoever can maintain control of Kismayo will grow rich from fees charged to businesses to use the port and market places. That will not go unchallenged because there’s too much money involved. But right now Ras Kamboni is the most powerful armed force down there and now it has the tacit backing of the Somali government and Kenya as well.
August 25, 2013: In Kismayo Kenyan troops and local militia defeated two al Shabaab attacks.
August 23, 2013: In Puntland a car bomb went off near the presidential palace but caused no injuries. Al Shabaab, which is now working for a rebellious warlord (based near the Somali border) was believed responsible.
In Mogadishu a Somali Olympic official was killed near a sports stadium. Al Shabaab was suspected but business rivals could also have been responsible.
August 21, 2013: In Kenya, along the Somali border, al Shabaab gunmen attacked an army patrol but were repulsed, with ten of the attackers killed.
In Mogadishu a group of gunmen attempted to kidnap a visiting Swedish politician. She managed to escape but was wounded. A bodyguard and another man accompanying her was killed, and another Swede was wounded. The politician had just given a speech at the University of Somalia and several faculty members were later arrested and accused of planning the kidnapping.