Mogadishu (Sunatimes) While Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and his ministersblithely played footballon
Lido beach in Mogadishu last week in the latest attempt to portray the city as
safe, ordinary citizens and soldiers who do not enjoy quite the same level of
security were facing a different reality.
It seems at the moment that even if an al-Shabaab member were to stroll into
the middle of town with an old-fashioned cartoon bomb, fuse sputtering merrily,
held aloft over his head, he would still be able to blow his target to
smithereens without being stopped.
The daily fizz of bullets may have stopped in most areas after al-Shabaab quit
its bases, but plenty of IEDs and suicide bombers have taken its place. This week
alone,four soldiers were killedin
an assassination attempt against the deputy army commander,a team of
street sweepers was killed by an IED,eleven people diedin
two separate bombings on Tuesday,a blast injured at least four in Banadir
Hospital and, most awful of all,two children diedwhen
they an IED they were tossing around went off.
And this is what the TFG calls safe? We'd hate to see a dangerous week in the
new Mogadishu. Perhaps the prime minister may find that trying to get his
ramshackle security forces to stop al-Shabaab making life a misery for
Mogadishu residents would be a better use of his time than showcasing his
Zidane turn for the media.
Still, at least the government can point tointercepting two truckspacked
with explosives that were heading for Dhobley to target Kenya and government
forcesand brag aboutrepulsing an al-Shabaab attackon
bases in Gedo.
Such minor successes in Gedo and Lower Juba could be threatened, however, if
the government doesn't actually break out the cash and begin paying its troops
outside the city. Mogadishu's soldiers have been paid after four months, but
those fighting out in the sticks arestill penniless. Officials
blame the pesky precipitation, which has also quite literally rained on Kenya's
parade, saying it prevents them getting money out to soldiers.With
al-Shabaab launchingregular attacks on bases and convoys
in Gedo and Lower Juba, the government will need its troops
motivated, and there is no better motivator than a regular pay check.
That same rain has delivered mixed blessings, bringing some relief
to the parched land and allowing some IDPs tobegin returning home.It
has, however, also led to anoutbeak of cholera and malariain
Gedo and other regions as IDPs sup from muddy puddles while waiting for aid to
Al-Shabaab, perhaps also with one eye on the skies and a feeling that the worst
of the drought is over, this week put the boot in further to aid agencies,officially banning 16 and raiding
offices in Baidoa.It is a risky move by the insurgent group,
which lost popularity due to earlier aid bans, but it nonetheless accused the
agencies of the usual diet of spying and attempting to convert people to
Christianity.In particular, banning the likes of UNICEF, which was
consistently bringing supplies in to Baidoa to feed malnourished children, may
not go down well with struggling communities. UNICEF warned that stopping it
working would put further lives at risk.
Still, when one door closes another opens, and Ethiopiaincreasing its troop presence in
Somaliacould help the insurgents once more paint themselves as
stout defenders of Islam against the evil Christian infidel.Even
al-Shabaab's proxy, Ahlu Sunnah wal Jamaa, this weekwarned it was concerned this might
Before we move on to piracy, there were various other bits and bobs worth
highlighting. The president of Galmudug is facing something of arevolt to his glorious leadershipfrom
MPs, although he is doing his best to ignore it completely,and apeace deal was signedin
Galkayo to end fighting there.So now peace reigns across Central Somalia,
right? Wrong! In an all-too-familiar fashion, as soon as one group of people
agree to stop killing each other,another bunch take up the baton.
There were two releases this week, meaning prostitutes and purveyors of booze
and drugs can look forward to brisk business. The Italian vessel Rosalia D'Amatowent for a reported $6 million,
and theSingapore-flagged MT Geminifor
Four South Koreans from the MT Gemini were granted an extended holiday in
Somalia when their captors took them onshore, saying they are holding onto them
because South Korea was holding pirates in its jails. Pirates have tried to
exert similar pressure on India, to no avail, so don't expect much change in
stance from the Asian nation.
Perhaps British hostages will be the next tools, as the Britsh Navy snarled
with its stiff-upper-lip at a group of pirates,chasing them down and arresting seven.
This was the latest setback for the pirates, who still haven't managed to get
any new high-value cargo vessels to replace those sailing off. They now have
just seven vessel that can command a decent ransom, and it looks like they will
have to maximize every penny from those, and the aid workers and tourists they are
holding, if they want to keep the piggy banks full into the future.
Those were the main developments, but if you want to read more on the other
goings-on, you can do so in ourpiracy report.
And so, that's it from me in my final newsletter for Somalia Report. Jay
Bahadur will be taking over in a little under two weeks to take Somalia Report
forward, so I hope you welcome him with open arms while shedding a sneaky tear
at my departure. And, if you happen to notice a few wet drips on this
newsletter, I'll leave it up to you to decide whether they are my own salty
tears or splashes from the bottle of champagne I may have just opened.
If you wish to follow my exploits as I head into the future as a
published author, you can follow me on twitter (@MichaelLogan), check in on mywebsiteor follow myauthor pageon
I wish you all the best for the future, and hope you continue to
follow Somalia Report as the publication heads into its second year.
By Michael Logan.