Somalia Report Weekly Newsletter -Volume 7

Friday July 01, 2011 - 20:35:14 in Reports by Super Admin
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    Somalia Report Weekly Newsletter -Volume 7

    July 1, 2011 Issue 1, Volume 7 Dear Readers,

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July 1, 2011 Issue 1, Volume 7 Dear Readers,

Welcome to our weekly summary of the week's top stories, garnered from the efforts of our many Somali correspondents operating on the ground.

The most significant development was a US military official admitting to theWashington Postthatrecent airstrikesnear the al-Shabaab stronghold of Kismayo were carried out by a US drone, and targeted senior leaders of the insurgent group.

The drone attack comes as the Obama administration appears to be taking more notice of Somalia in the post-Bin Laden era, with top officials fretting publicly that the Horn of Africa nation could become more of a base of operations for al-Qaeda as the network reinvents itself.

The US has carried out air strikes before, so it is yet to become clear if we are witnessing the beginning of a more direct interventionist policy, as some believe. Regardless, the $45 million in US military aid being handed over to Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers signals that the administration is going to continue backing the forces on the ground.

Al-Shaabab appears spooked by the drone attack, andSomalia Reporthas received many reports from the ground that top officials have moved to safer locations and that the insurgent group is even considering relocating some training camps.


In the world of politics, new premier Abdiweli Mohamed Alisailed through the approval process in parliament, and is now charged with forming a new cabinet.His chances of keeping everybody happy look rather slim, however, as Parliamentary Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, true to form, is pressuring all and sundry to ensure he gets the fattest slice of the cake. According to his allies, the speaker wants the cabinet, slimmed down last year, toput on a bit more beefin order to accommodate his backers.

We have in the past covered fears that the regional states popping up all over Somalia like pimples on a teenager could provoke more conflict. This issue reared its head again this week, when the Transitional Federal Government's governor for the Gedo Regionthrew a hissy fit over Azania, the Kenya-backed state that covers his turf.The governor has complained vociferously to Mogadishu, and warned he will firmly resist any attempts to foist a new administration upon Gedo.


As expected, the Transitional Federal Government this weekquietly released the foreign security teamarrested in Mogadishu en-route to dropping ransom money for the MV Suez and MV Yuan Xiang and sentenced to whopping jail sentences. President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed pardoned the men and let them slip away in the dead of night, although the $3.6 million sitting in the Central Bank was not the recipient of a similar magnanimous gesture. It will be joined by $100,000 the team had to pay to release their two planes. Government officials said they were satisfied with the decision - as they would be, considering the TFG's annual budget has been boosted by around 15 per cent (2010 levels) with the cash. The government is still talking tough on being anti-ransom despite the release, although it remains to be seen if that is just a public face and if drops transiting Mogadishu will be quietly resumed.

We also took a close look at the Nairobi suburb of Eastleigh, which for years has faced allegations it was built on Somali pirate money. While some of the ransom cash undoubtedly finds its way into the Nairobi property markets, the simple fact is that the Eastleigh boom islargely founded on diaspora cash and good old-fashioned Somalia business acumen.


The exodus of Somalis fleeing drought continues to gather pace, with 20,000 refugees turning up at Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya over the last few weeks (most of them malnourished children, according to Save The Children) and thousands more internally displaceddeciding to take their chances amid the bullets and shells of Mogadishurather than sit amongst the carcasses of their animals in their villages.

The horrendously overcrowded Dadaab saw chaotic scenes this week when refugees tried toprotest the closure of illegal businessesin one of the camps that make up the complex. Two refugees were killed when police used live ammunition and tear gas to battle thousands of demonstrators.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, the incident was "symptomatic of the pressures at the camp amid overcrowding, compounded by the very high number of arrivals we have been seeing recently from Somalia".

The growing number of displaced is also causing issues in Mogadishu, where a measles outbreak hasclaimed the lives of 25 childrensince the start of the year, with many more languishing in the overcrowded Banadir Hospital.

And finally, we would like to invite you to let us know what you think of our coverage, and to highlight any areas or specific stories you would like to see more of. Drop us a line at [email protected] with your suggestions.

That's it from us. Have a great weekend, and we hope you will come back refreshed next week with an appetite for all news Somalia.

The Editor.

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