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Somalia Report Weekly Newsletter-Volume 17

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Sunday September 11, 2011 - 00:08:45 in Reports by Super Admin
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    Somalia Report Weekly Newsletter-Volume 17

    Issue 1, Volume 17 Dear Readers,

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Issue 1, Volume 17 Dear Readers,

Mogadishu (Sunatiimes) There were more words flying that bullets in Mogadishu this week, as the delayed consultative meeting between the United Nations, Transitional Federal Government and various other regional states and interested parties finally took place. Unable to use the pesky presence of al-Shabaab in the capital as an excuse for not holding elections anymore, the TFG promised to transit its transitional federal government to a less transitory phase before next August. Stop us if you've heard that one before, but this time they really mean it. Our Publisher, Robert Young Pelton, lays out what it all means here. Should you wish to lull yourself into catatonia, you can also read the full text of the written agreement in the same place.

Perhaps more interesting than repeated political promises was the fact that al-Shabaab did not carry out any attacks on the meeting or its delegates, despite some concern they would do so. The insurgent group has promised to cause chaos in Mogadishu since it pulled out early last month for "tactical reasons", and the meeting would have been a prime target, what with all those high-ranking foreigners milling around. Yes, there was more fighting, but so far the insurgent group has not delivered on its plan to make life miserable with suicide bombs, IEDs and all that jazz.

Many will no doubt take this as a further sign of the group's weakness, and next week we will take an in-depth look at how al-Shabaab's new tactics are working out. However, there were signs that al-Shabaab was looking to gain back ground it lost in Gedo region this year, when it attacked a government base near Luq. Locals say the insurgent forces have been bolstered by men pulled out of Mogadishu, so the pro-government forces in the border regions are likely to face a stiffer challenge in holding their territorial gains.

Puntland and Galmudug

If you wanted real mayhem, you had to look north to Galkayo, where dozens have been killed in battles between the Puntland authorities and a clan militia. Puntland had spread the blame around for the fighting, fingering both Galmudug for backing a local clan militia, and al-Shabaab. Puntland and Galmudug agreed to be friends again at the Mogadishu meeting, while Puntland paraded 18 men allegedly involved in the fighting, saying they were al-Shabaab members. However, there are more than a few people who are skeptical about the claims, saying Puntland is prone to condemn anyone who waves a gun in their direction - and let's be honest, there are significant number of such people - as an insurgent.

Puntland also had to contend with an attack on a checkpoint near Bosaso that killed three, with one official blaming the militia of Mohamed Said Atam, who is, unsurprisingly, accused of having links to al-Shabaab. However, Atam signed a peace deal with Puntland not so long ago, and there appears to be little evidence his militia was involved in the attack.

Humanitarian

In the humanitarian field, it was once more a case of lots of tongue-wagging. As the UN announced famine conditions had spread to Bay Region, regional leaders and other bigwigs came together in Nairobi on Thursday for a Horn of Africa Crisis summit. Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali took the opportunity to admonish al-Shabaab, saying they were largely to blame for the famine.

That may be the case, but the famine is now here, and the TFG still seems unable to stop its troops from spraying bullets at Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) looking for some help. There have been many incidents of men in TFG uniforms gunning down the hungry and desperate and making off with aid. The government, when it does actually choose to discuss the issue, usually blames militia or al-Shabaab in disguise. Presumably an opportunistic businessman is operating a fancy-dress shop in Mogadishu where you can choose from Superman, Clown, Jihadist or TFG soldier.

This week, however, the excuse for a policeman shooting at least six IDPs was that he was trying to control the crowd as they surged forward during an aid delivery. If this is the security the government had promised to put in place to stop the looting of aid, it may wish to rethink its strategy - unless, of course, this is a novel way to stop people starving to death by shooting them first.

Piracy

The Danish hostages released this week were not the only ones who breathed a sigh of relief as they gained their freedom.

We have been reporting for weeks that their release was imminent, redefining the word in much the same way as the TFG have been redefining the word transitional, but it all came good in the end. We were informed early on Tuesday that the hostages had been taken off the MV Dover, where they were being held, after a ransom was paid - a full 24 hours before confirmation came from the Danish government.

While the release of the seven Danes is great for them, it is possible that the reported $3 million ransom could cause problems for other private sailors - both those being held and those happily skipping across the waves on world tours - as other pirate groups figure they can get a big pay off for such hijackings. We look at this issue in detail - as well as reporting on the other piracy goings on - in our weekly piracy report.

Special Features

This is more of a heads-up on what is coming that a special report itself. Robert Young Pelton, who enjoys nothing more than a lengthy rummage around in other people's business, is looking into the "Gold Rush" of private security companies keen to get in on the action now Mogadishu is looking more secure, and will publish the results of his prodding shortly.

And, on a final note for those of you who regularly travel between Nairobi and Mogadishu, here is a reassuring story about air safety. Happy flying!

As usual, send your comments and suggestions to [email protected] or sign up to follow us on Twitter (@SomaliaReport) and send truncated messages only a thirteen-year-old can understand.

Best Regards,

The Editor




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