June 13, 2013: A growing number of Somalis are returning, often from sanctuary they found in Western countries. About 4,000 a month are returning from refugee camps in Kenya, but those from Western nations bring cash (sometimes a lot) and new skills.
In Mogadishu there is economic opportunity and that is expected to eventually extend to the countryside. That may take a while. It‚Äôs not just al Shabaab that has to be destroyed, but also the clan feuds and numerous armed men found out there. Two decades without any central government has made chaos a familiar lifestyle in the countryside. That will not change quickly. Moreover, for centuries the coastal towns and cities were patches of civility and the inland areas were more chaotic and dangerous. Since the 1990s the chaos and danger has been extremely intense. But now the pro-government forces and foreign peacekeepers are reducing the level of mayhem and violence. For the average Somali, that‚Äôs a big improvement.
Remnants of al Shabaab have made life difficult for Kenyans living near the Somali border. A main road runs along the border and al Shabaab gunmen find this convenient for robbery or just shooting Kenyans. Al Shabaab blames Kenya for the heavy losses the Islamic terror group has taken in the last year and wants revenge.
June 11, 2013: Just across the border in Kenya al Shabaab gunmen ambushed a truck, killing six civilians.
June 10, 2013: In Kismayo several days of fighting between rival militias ended with the¬†Ras Kamboni militia¬†claiming victory over the¬†Iftin Hassan Basto militia. There were over a hundred casualties from three days of battles. The leader of Ras Kamboni (Ahmed Madobe) had proclaimed himself the president of Jubaland, as had his opponent. The loser did not concede defeat so¬†Iftin Hassan Basto may be back for a rematch. If Ras Kamboni can maintain control of Kismayo they will grow rich from fees charged businesses to use the port and market places. That will not go unchallenged because there‚Äôs too much money involved. The Somali government and peacekeepers are threatening to move in and settle the matter, especially the unwelcome independence of Jubaland.This all began two years ago when Kenya told local clan leaders that, in return for their cooperation in chasing al Shabaab out of the area, Kenya would support the formation of Jubaland. Kenyan troops subsequently joined the UN recognized Somali peacekeeping force and are now technically in opposition to any independence for Jubaland. But the local clan leaders went ahead with it anyway and Kenyan troops are refusing to interfere in the subsequent clan warfare over who would have it all. Many Somalis also suspect that Kenya has plans to annex the area Jubaland is supposed to include because Kenya has long had a claim on this part of southern Somalia. Kenya just wants peace on the border and these clan wars do not help.
June 8, 2013: An Iranian shipping company is trying to convince the local government to allow them to control all port operations in Mogadishu. The government and the UN is opposed to this because the of the many sanctions against Iran and the tendency for Iranian shipping and trading companies to be involved in smuggling for the Iranian government. The Iranians are spreading cash around and promising more if the Somalis sign a deal.
June 6, 2013: In the south (¬†Bararwe¬†) al Shabaab killed two men (by firing squad) it accused of spying for the government and peacekeepers.
June 5, 2013: Off the coast of Puntland pirates captured an Indian dhow (small wooden cargo ship) carrying livestock. The captain of the 14 man crew radioed the international piracy patrol for help before the pirates boarded. An armed helicopter from a Swedish warship arrived soon and flew near the dhow. Shortly after that the pirates left the dhow and went on their way.
June 4, 2013: Near the crossroads town of Jowhar (90 kilometers from Mogadishu) Al Shabaab killed five farmers. The Islamic terrorists are trying to regain control of the town. Al Shabaab took control of this town four years ago and lost it to government forces late last year. This was one of the last large towns the Islamic terrorists controlled. Some of the fleeing al Shabaab men headed for Puntland. There, a hilly area near the Somali border has become something of a sanctuary for displaced Islamic terrorists. But many al Shabaab men took refuge in villages near Jowhar and some have joined them from Puntland. The government/peacekeeper forces will have to make another sweep of the area to clear out al Shabaab.
In Puntland a raid on an al Shabaab safe house in the port of Bossaso captured al Shabaab leader (for forces in Puntland)¬†Abdikafi Mohamed Ali¬†. One soldier was killed in the raid and Ali was wounded.
June 2, 2013: In the south (¬†Jilib, near the Kenyan border) al Shabaab showed off two Kenyan soldiers they had captured last month in a cross-border raid.
June 1, 2013: About a hundred kilometers northwest of Mogadishu (¬†Wanlaweyn district in the Lower Shabelle) al Shabaab and government forces fought overnight. This led to at least ten dead and dozens of wounded. The Islamic terrorists were trying to interfere with a road repair operation in the area.
An American Predator UAV crashed in Puntland, about 20 kilometers from the coast. The U.S. operates these UAVs out of Djibouti.