December 15, 2014: Strategy Page
More and more al Shabaab groups are leaving central Somalia and heading for the Kenyan border, where they have access to the large number of Somali refugees (in well supplied Kenyan camps) and ethnic Somalis long resident in northern Kenya. These Somali Kenyans are easier to convince or coerce into cooperating with the Islamic terrorists than the Kenyans belonging to one of the many black African tribes native to East Africa south of Somalia. Al Shabaab is still angry at Kenya for sending troops into southern Kenya and, with the aid of local clan militias, set up a new government in the area that had long been under al Shabaab control. Traditionally Somalis invade Kenya not the other way around and the fact that the Kenyans got away with their “invasion” of southern Somali still annoys al Shabaab (and a lot of other Somalis.) So al Shabaab is moving south for revenge as well as to get away from peacekeepers, anti-al Shabaab militias and the trained soldiers the government now has available. The al Shabaab forces along the border are not yet strong enough to go to war with the Kenyan Army and the local Somali militias, but terrorism is another matter. So groups of al Shabaab gunmen have been crossing the border and murdering non-Moslem civilians they come across. This has angered Kenyans who are demanding that their government do something. In response Kenyan warplanes have bombed suspected al Shabaab camps and Kenyan troops are aggressively seeking out al Shabaab men on both sides of the border. Despite that there is panic among non-Moslem Kenyans living near the Somali border and thousands are leaving.
Kenya currently has 3,000 troops on the Somali side of the border and even more on the Kenyan side (in addition to police). The government is apparently going to send more troops and police to the Somali border and Kenyans up there who are ethnic Somalis are being asked to help. Some do, but many do not and a few actually support al Shabaab. At the moment the Kenyan security forces are held in low esteem by most Kenyans and political and military leaders are under a lot of pressure to actually do something.
The UN and other foreign aid groups gave become increasingly strident about foreign donors not providing enough money to deal with growing food shortages in Somalia. So far only about a third of the money (over 800 million) needed to handle the coming food crisis has been pledged. There are 20 percent more Somalis in need of aid this year than last. Foreign donors are reluctant to spend a lot of money on Somali aid because over the last two decades so much aid has been stolen by Islamic terrorists, warlords, bandits and whatever passes for government. The drought in 2011 killed a quarter of a million, largely because al Shabaab banned the “un-Islamic” food aid from those needing it. But the donor nations note that the aid groups play down the theft and subsequent investigations revealed this and the fact that the aid groups simply paid off the thieves, often with a portion of the aid. Donor nations want better security before they provide all that is demanded.
The major problem in Somalia has long been corruption and when this problem is actually measured Somali finds that it has the dubious distinction of being best at something they would rather not be. Thus a recent international study found Somalia one of the three most corrupt nations in the world. Corruption in this Transparency International Corruption Perception Index is measured on a 1 (most corrupt) to 100 (not corrupt) scale. The three most corrupt nations have a rating of 8 (Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia) and the least corrupt are 91 (New Zealand and Denmark). A look at this index each year adds an element of reality to official government pronouncements. African nations are the most corrupt, followed by Middle Eastern ones.
Somalia also excels at terrorist violence. A recent terrorism survey (Global Terrorism Index) found that five nations (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria, in that order) accounted for 80 percent of all terrorism related deaths in 2013 and even more in 2014. Four Islamic terrorist organizations (ISIL, al Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Taliban) account for nearly 70 percent of all terrorist deaths. Many of the lesser terror groups are also Islamic. In fact, of the top ten nations by terrorist activity (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Syria, India, Somalia, Yemen, Philippines and Thailand) only India and the Philippines had a significant minority of terrorist deaths that were not carried out by Moslems. In those two countries the minority terrorists were leftist rebels who had not noticed the collapse of radical socialism in 1989. Meanwhile the rapid growth in Islamic terrorism violence caused the total number of terrorist acts to increase 44 percent in 2013 over 2012. Al Shabaab does what it can to keep Somalia competitive.
December 14, 2014: In Mogadishu al Shabaab fired several mortar shells at the largest peacekeeper base in the country. There were no casualties. This was apparently retaliation for an operation earlier in the day that arrested 200 men suspected of belonging to or supporting al Shabaab.
December 13, 2014: In central Somalia (Galguduud province) fifteen people (five soldiers and ten Sufi militiamen) died when troops drove the Sufi militia out of a village they had occupied. Since late 2011 Sufi militiamen have been again fighting al Shabaab gunmen in central Somalia. In the first eight months after the Sufi Ahlu Suna Waljama militia went to war with al Shabaab, the Islamic terrorists lost control of most key towns they held in central Somalia. Sufis are believers in a more mystical and peaceful form of Islam, and are looked down on by many radical Sunni groups. But the Somali Sufis got tired of being harassed by al Shabaab, and in 2008 began to arm and organize themselves for defense. In 2010 the Sufi militias became allies with the TNG (Transitional National Government) and Ethiopia, which keeps lots of troops on their Somali border, occasionally crossing into Somalia in order to discourage al Shabaab from raiding into Ethiopia. Since 2013 there has been growing friction between local Sufi leaders and the officials the national government has sent to set up local government. The Sufi complain that they are being ignored and taken advantage of. The corruption of the government officials doesn’t help either.
December 12, 2014: In the Bakool area (175 kilometers north of Mogadishu) seven women have been killed because of an al Shabaab effort to intimidate soldiers. It began last week when al Shabaab kidnapped and beheaded the wife of a local soldier and another woman who cooked for the soldiers. In revenge soldiers seized ten women they believed were married to al Shabaab members and began killing them. Five of the ten were killed before tribal elders showed up and persuaded the soldiers to stop.
December 6, 2014: In Mogadishu parliament voted (153 to 80) to remove the current prime minister from power and thus give the president another chance to find a prime minister who will do what the president tells him. The dismissed prime minister and the president have been openly feuding for months over who gets appointed to senior positions. This is not about appointing the most effective officials, but the ones who will steal the most for the president or prime minister (the two most powerful politicians currently in government.) A recent UN study found that many officials will steal over 70 percent of the government funds they have control over.
December 5, 2014: In the central Somalia town of Baidoa al Shabaab set off a car bomb in a crowd and another bomb in a café that killed 15 and wounded three times as many.
December 4, 2014: One of Kenya’s F-5 jet fighters crashed on its way back from a bombing mission along the Somali border. Al Shabaab claimed to have shot down the fighter but the pilot reported mechanical problems before the jet went down. Kenya has obtained 29 F-5s since the late 1970s and about twenty are still in service and several more are being refurbished. Fifteen F-5s were recently refurbished after being obtained from Jordan. The F-5s is a 12 ton fighter roughly similar to the 1950s era MiG-21, and is a contemporary of that Russian fighter. The F-5 was built mainly for export to nations that could not afford the top-line Western fighters, but did not want the MiG-21s. The F-5 is normally armed with two 20mm cannon, and three tons of missiles and bombs. Introduced in 1962, over 2,200 were built before production ended in 1987.
December 3, 2014: In Mogadishu an al Shabaab suicide car bomber attacked a UN convoy killing four people (all security guards or civilian bystanders). The UN personnel were safe within armored trucks that are used to transport them from the heavily guarded UN compound to the equally well guarded airport.
Just across the border in Kenya (Garissa) someone threw a grenade into a café and wounding two people.
December 2, 2014: Just across the border in Kenya (outside Mandera) al Shabaab killed 36 non-Moslem workers at a quarry. As a result of this atrocity the Kenyan president fired his Interior Minister and the head of the national police promptly retired. Later in the day gunmen attacked a pub near the Somali border, killing one customer and wounding three others. Al Shabaab is violently opposed to alcoholic beverages and all sorts of other things (like school for girls).
November 26, 2014: The EU (European Union) agreed to keep its 128 military trainers in Mogadishu for another year. In 2014 the EU instructors trained 1,200 Somali troops and expects to train the same number in 2015.
November 24, 2014: Many Kenyans doubt their government’s claims that security forces quickly killed over a hundred al Shabaab men in the wake of the Mandera massacre. Al Shabaab denies that they suffered any losses and the government simply says that air force warplanes bombed al Shabaab camps along the Somali border while ground troops pursued and caught some of the Mandera killers. If that is so, Kenyans wonder why there are not photos or prisoners shown to prove it. Kenyans are losing faith in their security forces.
November 22, 2014: Just across the border in Kenya (outside Mandera) al Shabaab gunmen stopped a bus and killed 28 non-Moslem passengers, while leaving the Moslem passengers unharmed.