Date: Monday, 18 June 2018
The peacekeepers are trying to take advantage of the annual “Ramadan Offensive” and hit al Shabaab when they are most active and exposed. Al Shabaab, like most Islamic terror groups, increase their attacks during the month of Ramadan (May 15-June 14) because Islamic terrorists interpret (or misinterpret according to most Islamic scholars) scripture and believe that Islamic terrorists who get killed during Ramadan get extra goodies in the afterlife. So while most Moslems spend more time praying during Ramadan Islamic terrorists spend to time trying to kill their fellow Moslems (or any non-Moslems who are available). While this makes Islamic terrorists even more unpopular among Moslems in general the Islamic terrorists don’t care because they are on a Mission From God and don’t answer to mere mortals.
Somalis in general have a problem with being answerable to anyone not in their extended family or clan. This is why massive corruption persists and a growing number of foreign aid donors are cutting their aid or halting it entirely. This includes the United States, a major provider of food, as well as the main support for the Somali Army. The military aid is plundered more frequently and extensively than the food and medical aid but the extent of corruption in general throughout the Somali government never seems to decline. The corruption in the military is obvious because so many Somali Army units, when facing combat, seem to fail miserably. What is really happening is that an infantry company with about 150 troops on the payroll (that foreign aid pays for) might have only a few dozen actual troops because the rest are absent because they never existed in the first place (but the pay goes to a corrupt officer of politician) or deserted because they were not being paid.
Foreign relations are also crippled by corruption. For example European nations find that they can get Somalia to accept the return of Somalis who illegally entered Europe only if bribes are paid to Somali government officials. This sort of thing is illegal, or simply political trouble, in many European nations but in most cases the details of the “diplomatic agreement” is declared classified and everyone pretends the corruption doesn’t exist.
While most Somalis believe there is a Somali culture all Somalis share far fewer Somalis believe in the “civil society” required to create a functioning nation and government. Some civil societies are more effective (less corrupt) than others but Somalia appears incapable of creating and sustaining a government foreign aid donors can justify supporting. The problem is that when it comes to foreign aid the demand is much larger than the supply and donor nations prefer to send their money to nations that will use more of it as intended. Even the UN is planning to shut down the peacekeeping operation soon because there seems little hope that the Somali Army will ever be effective enough to replace the peacekeepers.
There is the option of cutting all aid although NGO foreign aid groups will demand that donors still come through with cash and someone provide some armed protection so the food and medical aid can be delivered to the warlords who will steam it and sell it to Somalis who can afford it. That doesn’t work (“Blackhawk Down” anyone?) but allowing Somalia to revert to its normal (for thousands of years) warlord driven anarchy is very unpopular with the neighbors (especially Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, which do have civil societies). The neighbors have suffered from Somali raids and general banditry for a long time. Although the mayhem was diminished during about a century of colonial rule that ended when the colonial government eagerly left. The beleaguered neighbors will, as they have in past, respond to resumed Somali aggression with massive “punitive operations” that will leave lots of Somalis, mostly women and children, dead or destitute. The Ethiopians have long handled Somali raiders that way. It works for a generation or two then another dose of the massacre treatment must be applied. Kenya is a different story as before the colonial period the Kenyan tribes were not as organized and well-armed as they are now as the Kenyan Army supported by a Kenyan state.
The foreign donor groups and foreign diplomats who understand how this works want to prop up the Somali government no matter what the cost because the alternative is so horrific. Meanwhile the most unconcerned and least cooperative group involved are Somali leaders and many of their followers. Somali isn’t a hopeless mess, just a lot more difficult than most.
June 11, 2018: In central Somalia (the Bakool region) al Shabaab attacked an army base and after several hours of shooting, retreated. Four soldiers were killed and as well as an unknown number of al Shabaab. There were numerous blood trails left by the retreating Islamic terrorists indicating numerous casualties. The Islamic terrorists take their dead with them whenever possible because if a body is left behind it can be identified and then the intelligence specialists confirm where another al Shabaab recruit came from and often find that others from the same extended family have also been recruited. The family will often be threatened with government reprisals if they do not help find their Islamic terrorist kin.
June 10, 2018: Outside Mogadishu a large group of al Shabaab attacked an army base and were repulsed. Two soldiers were killed and several wounded while al Shabaab retreated with their dead and wounded.
June 9, 2018: In the south (outside the port of Kismayu) an al Shabaab suicide car bomber attacked an army base and wounded seven soldiers.
In the south (Jubaland, on the Kenya border) al Shabaab tried to use a suicide car bomber form an attack on the new combat outpost manned by Kenyan and American troops. The camp guards saw the vehicle coming and shot the driver, who detonated his explosives before he was close enough to do any damage to the base. It was close enough so the blast wounded one solider.
June 8, 2018: In the south (Jubaland, on the Kenya border) al Shabaab fired four mortar shells at an outpost being set by Kenyan soldiers and some American Special Forces troops near the Jubba River. The al Shabaab force was on the other side of the river and had been firing on Kenyan peacekeepers operating in the area. The mortar fire killed one American Special Forces operator and wounded four others. Al Shabaab also fired a heavy machine-gun across the river and wounded one Kenyan soldier. The al Shabaab force then left to avoid return fire and a possible airstrike. Despite this attack, and several others, Kenyan and American troops finished setting up the combat outpost, which will be used to hunt for al Shabaab forces in the area and drive them out. The death of the Special Forces NCO is the second American death in Somalia in the last two years. A Navy SEAL commando died during a May 2017 raid.
June 6, 2018: In the southwest (Gedo, 320 kilometers from Mogadishu) a Kenyan police vehicle just across the border in Kenya hit a landmine planted by al Shabaab. The explosion killed five policemen and wounded another three. This part of Kenya is where the largest refugee camp for Somalis is located.
June 5, 2018: Outside Mogadishu al Shabaab ambushed a convoy guarded by soldiers, killing five people (including two provincial officials). Al Shabaab used a roadside bomb and gunfire.
June 2, 2018: In the far north (Puntland) an American airstrike outside the coastal town of Bosasso killed about 27 al Shabaab fighters. This is the farthest north U.S. UAV missile attacks have ever been carried out and show how Puntland is seen as a potential sanctuary for al Shabaab. That is why so many al Shabaab personnel were killed in one attack. The Puntland government had long sought this sort of air support against the Islamic terror groups it has to deal with. Two other recent airstrikes (outside Mogadishu) on May 23 and May 31) killed 22 al Shabaab men. So far in 2018 the U.S. has carried out 16 of the UAV attacks in Somalia compared to 31 for all of 2017 and 15 for 2016.
June 1, 2018: Al Shabaab attacked the town of Muqokori (300 kilometers north of Mogadishu) and after hours of fighting had control over most of it. The army garrison, realizing they were outnumbered and that reinforcements would not arrive in time left the town. On paper the army should have had enough troops in the town and nearby to handle the al Shabaab threat. But reality is often much less than paper strength.
May 31, 2018: Al Shabaab released a video showing the training of death squads and then video clips of some of the murders this group carried out, mainly in Mogadishu. These killings are mainly to terrorize the security forces. Targets include politicians and police and military officers involved in counter-terror operations as well as off-duty police. These death squads account for about a sixth of all al Shabaab attacks. The video also served as an effective recruiting promotion.
May 30, 2018: In the southeast (Lower Shabelle region) local civilians report that al Shabaab recently executed two more of their ethnic Somali recruits for being spies. This execution was done in public at a rural village. The executioners used knives. Kenyan Somalis are often accused of spying for their government and sometimes that is true but most of the time it is just al Shabaab paranoia.