Al-shabab’s long awaited battle of Mogadishu flares …

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Thirty die in renewed Mogadishu fighting

2010-03-12 05:41:31 GMT2010-03-12 13:41:31 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Soldiers of Somali government forces take position at the frontlines of the fighting with Islamist insurgent fighters in Mogadishu, Somali, March 11, 2010. At least 30 people were killed and 83 others injured Thursday as fierce fighting continued between Somali government forces backed by African Union peacekeeping troops and Islamist insurgent fighters in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, medical sources said. (Xinhua/Ismail Warsameh)

Soldiers of Somali government forces run for cover at the frontlines of the fighting with Islamist insurgent fighters in Mogadishu, Somali, March 11, 2010. At least 30 people were killed and 83 others injured Thursday as fierce fighting continued between Somali government forces backed by African Union peacekeeping troops and Islamist insurgent fighters in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, medical sources said. (Xinhua/Ismail Warsameh)

Soldiers of Somali government forces take position at the frontlines of the fighting with Islamist insurgent fighters in Mogadishu, Somali, March 11, 2010. At least 30 people were killed and 83 others injured Thursday as fierce fighting continued between Somali government forces backed by African Union peacekeeping troops and Islamist insurgent fighters in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, medical sources said. (Xinhua/Ismail Warsameh)

MOGADISHU, March 11 (Xinhua) — At least 30 people were killed and almost 83 others were wounded Thursday as the fierce fighting continues between Somali government forces backed by African Union (AU) peacekeeping troops and Islamist insurgent fighters in Mogadishu, medical sources said.

The fighting which erupted on Wednesday resumed in the early hours of Thursday morning after it briefly stopped overnight with both sides claiming successes.

“As many as 30 people were killed, 12 of them in one area in the north of Mogadishu while we have picked almost 83 wounded people including 35 children mainly in the northern districts of Mogadishu,” Ali Muse, head of local ambulance service told Xinhua.

Heavy artillery and intense gunfire was heard around the battle areas in the north of Mogadishu where witnesses said several shells landed in residential neighborhoods.

Families in residential pockets in the north began fleeing their homes to join hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians on the outskirts of coastal Indian Ocean city of Mogadishu.

Somali government military commanders as well as insurgent fighters have claimed to have achieved ground from the other side but that cannot be independently verified as the battle still rages in north Mogadishu.

The latest upsurge in fighting comes as speculation intensifies of a major government offensive to retake the capital from rebels who control more than half of the restive coastal city.

Somali government controls only parts of the capital Mogadishu while Islamist groups rein over large swathes of territory in the south and centre of war-ravaged horn of African nation.

The U.S. pledged to support Somali government plans to wrestle control of Mogadishu from Islamists who are poised to oust the weak but internationally recognized government of Somalia.

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Somali official tells residents to flee battle zones as fighting flares for a third day

By Mohamed Olad Hassan, AP
Friday, March 12, 2010

Somali official to residents: Flee battle zones

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Fighting erupted in Somalia’s capital for the third straight day Friday in some of the worst violence in nearly a year, as government-backed troops shelled the front lines of rebels trying to advance into government-held territory.

Mogadishu’s mayor warned residents to flee the fighting, which is expected to intensify in coming weeks after the government launches a long-awaited offensive against Islamist insurgents.

Emergency officials say at least 50 people have been killed and nearly 150 wounded in fighting in the Somali capital on Wednesday and Thursday. At least two more people were killed in fighting Friday, a resident reported. At least six were wounded, emergency officials said.

Rebels advanced to as close as 1 mile (2 kilometers) from the government-held area on Thursday, but have since been pushed back several blocks.

Mogadishu Mayor Abdurisaq Mohamed Nor told citizens to move at least a couple miles (kilometers) away from battle zones. Residents in Mogadishu are often caught in crossfire or are hit by off-target munitions.

“The ongoing fighting is not part of our planned major offensive, but there is possibility that it can follow, we urge the civilians to flee from the battle zones,” said Nor “This time your suffering will not last much longer. We will finish the rebels off.”

A resident, Mohamed Abdi Haji, said that about 200 insurgents aboard a dozen gun-mounted vehicles moved into his neighborhood and drove toward the presidential palace. Government soldiers and African Union peacekeepers fired barrages at the militants and forced them to retreat, Haji said.

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Somalia: Africom’s First War

Friday, 12 March 2010, 5:13 pm
Opinion: Rick Rozoff

Africom’s First War: U.S. Directs Large-Scale Offensive In Somalia

Rick Rozoff

Over 43 people have been killed in the Somali capital of Mogadishu in the past two days in fighting between Shabab (al-Shabaab) insurgent forces, who on March 10 advanced to within one mile of the nation’s presidential palace, and troops of the U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government. The fighting has just begun.

The last ambassador of the United States to Somalia (1994-1995), Daniel H. Simpson, penned a column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on March 10 in which which he posed the question “why, apart from the only lightly documented charge of Islamic extremism among the Shabab, is the United States reengaging in Somalia at this time?”

He answered it in stating “Part of the reason is because the United States has its only base in Africa up the coast from Mogadishu, in Djibouti, the former French Somaliland. The U.S. Africa Command was established there in 2008, and, absent the willingness of other African countries to host it, the base in Djibouti became the headquarters for U.S. troops and fighter bombers in Africa.

“Flush with money, in spite of the expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense obviously feels itself in a position to undertake military action in Africa, in Somalia.” [1]

Fulfilling its appointed role, the New York Times leaked U.S. military plans for the current offensive in Somalia on March 5 in a report titled “U.S. Aiding Somalia in Its Plan to Retake Its Capital.” (Note that the Transitional Federal Government is presented as Somalia itself and Mogadishu as its capital.)

The tone of the feature was of course one of approval and endorsement of the Pentagon’s rationale for directly intervening in Somalia at a level not seen since 1993 and support for proxy actions last witnessed with the invasion by Ethiopia in 2006. The report began with a description of a military surveillance plane circling over the Somali capital and a quote from the new chief of staff of the nation’s armed forces, General Mohamed Gelle Kahiye: “It’s the Americans. They’re helping us.”

Afterward “An American official in Washington, who said he was not authorized to speak publicly” – a hallmark of the American free press – was, if not identified, quoted as maintaining that U.S. covert operations were planned if not already underway and “What you’re likely to see is airstrikes and Special Ops moving in, hitting and getting out.” [2]

The New York Times also provided background information regarding the current offensive:

“Over the past several months, American advisers have helped supervise the training of the Somali forces to be deployed in the offensive….The Americans have provided covert training to Somali intelligence officers, logistical support to the peacekeepers, fuel for the maneuvers, surveillance information about insurgent positions and money for bullets and guns.” [3]

Four days later General William (“Kip”) Ward, commander of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In his introductory remarks the chairman of the committee, Senator Carl Levin, reinforced recent American attempts to expand the scope of the deepening Afghanistan-Pakistan war, the deadliest and lengthiest in the world, to the west and south in stating that “al Qaeda and violent extremists who share their ideology are not just located in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region but in places like Somalia, Mali, Nigeria and Niger.” [4]

In his formal report Ward pursued a similar tact and expanded the Pentagon’s “counter-terrorism” (CT) area of responsibility yet further from South Asia: “U.S. Africa Command has focused the majority of its CT capacity building activities in East Africa on Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Uganda, which – aside from Somalia – are the countries directly threatened by terrorists.” [5]

He also spoke of the current offensive by “the transition government to reclaim parts of Mogadishu,” stating “I think it’s something that we would look to do and support.” [6]

Senator Levin and General Ward included eight African nations in the broader Afghan war category of Operation Enduring Freedom, countries from the far northeast of the continent (the Horn of Africa) to the far west (the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea). The U.S. military has already been involved in counterinsurgency operations in Mali and Niger against ethnic Tuareg rebels, who have no conceivable ties to al-Qaeda, not that one would know that from Levin’s comments.

In between South Asia and Africa lies Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula. The New York Times report cited earlier reminded readers that “The United States is increasingly concerned about the link between Somalia and Yemen.” Indeed as Levin’s comments quoted above establish, Washington (along with its NATO allies) is forging an expanded war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and into Africa. [7]

That extension of the South Asia war has not gone unobserved in world capitals, and earlier this year Russian political analyst Andrei Fedyashin commented: “Adding up all four fronts – if the United States ventured an attack on Yemen and Somalia – America would have to invade a territory equal to three-fourths of Western Europe; and it is hardly strong enough for that.” [8]

Strong enough or not, that is just what the White House and the Pentagon are doing. The only other objection that can be raised to the above author’s description is that it too severely narrows the intended battlefront.

In the past six months Somali troops have been sent to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda for combat training and “most are now back in the capital, waiting to fight.”

In addition, “There are also about 5,000 Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers, with 1,700 more on their way, and they are expected to play a vital role in backing up advancing Somali forces.” [9]

Last October the U.S. led ten days of military exercises in Uganda – Natural Fire 10 – with 450 American troops and over 550 from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The U.S. soldiers were deployed from Camp Lemonier (Lemonnier) in Djibouti, home to the Pentagon’s Joint Task Force/Horn of Africa and over 2,000 U.S. forces. The de facto headquarters of AFRICOM.

At the time of the maneuvers a major Ugandan newspaper wrote that they were “geared towards the formation of the first Joint East African Military Force.” [10]

In addition to using such a multinational regional force in Somalia, the U.S. can also deploy it against Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in Uganda, Congo and Sudan, and could even employ it against Eritrea, Zimbabwe and Sudan, along with Somalia the only nations on the African continent not to some degree enmeshed in military partnerships with Washington and NATO. (Libya has participated in NATO naval exercises and South Africa has hosted the bloc’s warships.) [11]

Earlier this month the Kenyan newspaper The East African divulged that “American legislators are pushing for a law that will see another phase of military action to apprehend Lord’s Resistance Army rebels.”

The news source added that the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Bill adopted by the U.S. Congress last year “requires the US government to develop a new multifaceted strategy” and as such the new bill under consideration “will not be the first time the US government is providing support to the Uganda army in fighting the LRA.

“The US has been backing the UPDF [Uganda People’s Defence Force] with logistics and training to fight the rebel group.” [12]

Last month it was announced that the U.S. Africa Command has dispatched special forces to train 1,000 Congolese troops in the north and east of their nation, where Congo borders Uganda.

Former U.S. diplomat Daniel Simpson was quoted above as to what in part is Washington’s motive in pursuing a new war in and around Somalia: To test out AFRICOM ground and air forces in Djibouti for direct military action on the continent.

A United Press International report of March 10, placed under energy news, offered another explanation. In a feature titled “East Africa is next hot oil zone,” the news agency disclosed that “East Africa is emerging as the next oil boom following a big strike in Uganda’s Lake Albert Basin. Other oil and natural gas reserves have been found in Tanzania and Mozambique and exploration is under way in Ethiopia and even war-torn Somalia.”

The region is, in the words of the Western chief executive officer of an oil prospecting firm, “the last real high-potential area in the world that hasn’t been fully explored.” [13]

The article added: “The discovery at Lake Albert, in the center of Africa between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is estimated to contain the equivalent of several billion barrels of oil. It is likely to be the biggest onshore field found south of the Sahara Desert in two decades.”

It also spoke of “a vast 135,000-square-mile territory in landlocked Ethiopia that is believed to contain sizable reserves of oil. It is estimated to hold 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas as well.”

And, more pertinent to the Horn of Africa:

“A 1993 study by Petroconsultants of Geneva concluded that Somalia has two of the most potentially interesting hydrocarbon-yielding basins in the entire region – one in the central Mudugh region, the other in the Gulf of Aden More recent analyses indicate that Somalia could have reserves of up to 10 billion barrels.” [14]

Washington’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies are also deeply involved in the militarization of East Africa.

On March 10 NATO extended its naval operation in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia, Ocean Shield, to the end of 2012, an unprecedentedly long 33-month extension. On March 12 “Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 will take over missions from Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 for the four-month assignment. The change will increase NATO’s contribution from four ships to five ships….” [15]

At the same hearings of the Senate Armed Services Committee that AFRICOM commander William Ward addressed, NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, America’s Admiral James Stavridis, “noted that 100,000 NATO troops are involved in expeditionary operations on three continents, including operations in Afghanistan, off the coast of Africa, and in Bosnia.” (Evidently Kosovo was meant for Bosnia.)

Stavridis, who is concurrently top military chief of U.S. European Command, said “The nature of threats in this 21st century [is] going to demand more than just sitting behind our borders.” [16]

He also said he finds “Iran alarming in any number of dimensions,” specifically mentioning alleged “state-sponsored terrorism, nuclear proliferation and political outreach into Latin America.” [17]

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recently returned from Jordan and the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain where he pressured both nations to support the war in Afghanistan and Alliance naval operations.

NATO’s top official said [on March 9] that he has asked Jordan and Bahrain to contribute to alliance naval operations fighting terrorism and piracy in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf of Aden, as he ended a visit to the two countries. NATO is keen to improve cooperation with Arab and Muslim states, seeing them as important allies for a number of missions, including the all-important deployment in Afghanistan.” [18]

Regarding the Western military bloc’s almost nine-year Operation Active Endeavor in the entire Mediterranean Sea and its Operation Ocean Shield in the Gulf of Aden, Rasmussen said, “We would very much like to strengthen cooperation (with Bahrain and Jordan) within these operations.” [19]

While in Jordan he was strengthening military ties with NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue partnership – Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia – and in Bahrain firming up the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative aimed at the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have military personnel serving under NATO in Afghanistan.

In late February a delegation of the 53-nation African Union (AU) visited NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium.

“NATO continues to support the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) through the provision of strategic sea- and air-lift for AMISOM Troop Contributing Nations on request. The last airlift support occurred in June 2008 when NATO transported a battalion of Burundian peacekeepers to Mogadishu.” [20]

On March 10 AMISON deployed tanks to prevent the capture of the Somali presidential palace by rebels.

The North Atlantic military bloc, which in recent years has conducted large-scale exercises in West Africa and inaugurated its international Response Force in Cape Verde in 2006, also supports “the operationalisation of the African Standby Force – the African Union’s vision for a continental, on-call security apparatus similar to the NATO Response Force.” [21]

In May the European Union, whose membership largely overlaps with that of NATO and which is engaged in intense integration with the military bloc on a global scale [22], will begin training 2,000 Somali troops in Uganda.

Brigadier General Thierry Caspar-Fille-Lambie, commanding officer of French armed forces in Djibouti, said “the Somali troops will be trained with the necessary military skills to help pacify and stabilize the volatile country.”

He issued that statement “at the closing ceremony of four-week French operational training of 1,700 Ugandan troops to be deployed” to Somalia in May. The French ambassador to Uganda said “The EU troops shall work in close collaboration with UPDF to train Somali troops.” [23]

The 2,000 soldiers to be trained by the EU will represent a full third of a projected 6,000-troop Somali army.

The U.S.-NATO-EU global triad plans an even larger collective military role in the new scramble for Africa. On March 4 and 5 a delegation from AFRICOM met with European Union officials in Brussels “seeking EU cooperation in Africa,” specifically in “areas where cooperation could be possible, notably with the soon-to-be-launched EU mission to train Somali troops.” [24]

Tony Holmes, AFRICOM’s deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, said “Somalia, that’s an area where we’re going to be doing a lot more, the European Union is already doing a lot and will be doing more….

“Somalia is very important for us. The European Union is involved in training Somalis in Uganda and that’s something we might be able to work closely with to support.”

The AFRICOM delegation, including Major-General Richard Sherlock, director of strategy, plans and programs, also discussed “counter-terrorism cooperation with the EU in the Sahel region, notably in Mauritania, Mali and Niger…” [25]

In late January the chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, said “that the Alliance is in discussion with a Gulf state to deploy AWACS planes for a reconnaissance mission over Afghanistan in support of its ISAF mission and also for anti-piracy off Somalia.” [24]

To demonstrate that NATO’s anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia has other designs than the one acknowledged, early this year a NATO spokesman announced that the bloc’s naval contingent in the Gulf of Aden “now has an additional task” to intervene against a fictional deployment of Somali fighters across the Gulf to Yemen.

The spokesman, Jacqui Sheriff, said “NATO warships will be on the lookout for anything suspicious.” [25]

As though Somali al-Shabaab fighters have nothing else to do as the U.S. is engineering an all-out assault on them in their homeland.

Five days after the New York Times feature detailed American war plans in Somalia, the Washington Times followed up on and added to that report.

U.S. operations are “likely to be the most overt demonstration of U.S. military backing since the ill-fated Operation Restore Hope of 1992….”

“Unmanned U.S. surveillance aircraft have been seen circling over Mogadishu in recent days, apparently pinpointing insurgent positions as the TFG [Transitional Federal Government] marshals its forces. U.S. Army advisers have been helping train the TFG’s forces, which have been largely equipped with millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. arms airlifted into Mogadishu over the last few weeks.”

The newspaper report further stated: “It’s not clear when the offensive will start. The word on the street is sometime in the next few weeks….”

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Timeline: Somalia (BBC)

A chronology of key events:

600s – Arab tribes establish the sultanate of Adel on the Gulf of Aden coast.

Mogadishu skyline pictured in 1977
Somali capital, Mogadishu, in more peaceful times
Emerged as Arab settlement in 10th century
Bought by Italy in 1905
Capital of independent Somalia from 1960
Estimated population: 1 million

1500s – Sultanate of Adel disintegrates into small states.

1875 – Egypt occupies towns on Somali coast and parts of the interior.

1860s – France acquires foothold on the Somali coast, later to become Djibouti.

1887 – Britain proclaims protectorate over Somaliland.

1888 – Anglo-French agreement defines boundary between Somali possessions of the two countries.

1889 – Italy sets up a protectorate in central Somalia, later consolidated with territory in the south ceded by the sultan of Zanzibar.

1925 – Territory east of the Jubba river detached from Kenya to become the westernmost part of the Italian protectorate.

1936 – Italian Somaliland combined with Somali-speaking parts of Ethiopia to form a province of Italian East Africa.

1940 – Italians occupy British Somaliland.

1941 – British occupy Italian Somalia.

Independence

1950 – Italian Somaliland becomes a UN trust territory under Italian control.

Ruins of parliament building, Mogadishu, 2003
Parliament in ruins: War devastated much of Mogadishu

1956 – Italian Somaliland renamed Somalia and granted internal autonomy.

1960 – British and Italian parts of Somalia become independent, merge and form the United Republic of Somalia; Aden Abdullah Osman Daar elected president.

1963 – Border dispute with Kenya; diplomatic relations with Britain broken until 1968.

1964 – Border dispute with Ethiopia erupts into hostilities.

1967 – Abdi Rashid Ali Shermarke beats Aden Abdullah Osman Daar in elections for president.

Drought and war

1969 – Muhammad Siad Barre assumes power in coup after Shermarke is assassinated.

former dictator Siad Barre
Muhammad Siad Barre backed ‘Scientific Socialism’
Born in 1919
Led military coup in 1969; overthrown in 1991
Died in Nigeria, 1995

1970 – Barre declares Somalia a socialist state and nationalises most of the economy.

1974 – Somalia joins the Arab League.

1974-75 – Severe drought causes widespread starvation.

1977 – Somalia invades the Somali-inhabited Ogaden region of Ethiopia.

1978 – Somali forces pushed out of Ogaden with the help of Soviet advisers and Cuban troops. Barre expels Soviet advisers and gains support of United States.

1981 – Opposition to Barre’s regime begins to emerge after he excludes members of the Mijertyn and Isaq clans from government positions, which are filled with people from his own Marehan clan.

1988 – Peace accord with Ethiopia.

1991 – Mohamed Siad Barre is ousted. Power struggle between clan warlords Mohamed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi Mohamed kills or wounds thousands of civilians.

Somaliland breaks away

1991 – Former British protectorate of Somaliland declares unilateral independence.

US troops, partof UN force in Somalia
UN force sent to quell violence suffered losses, left in 1994

On This Day 1992: American marines land in Somalia

On This Day 1993: US forces killed in Somali gun battle

1992 – US Marines land near Mogadishu ahead of a UN peacekeeping force sent to restore order and safeguard relief supplies.

1993 – US Army Rangers are killed when Somali militias shoot down two US helicopters in Mogadishu and a battle ensues. Hundreds of Somalis die in the battle depicted in the film “Black Hawk Down”. US mission formally ends in March 1994.

1995 – UN peacekeepers leave, having failed to achieve their mission.

1996 – Warlord Muhammad Aideed dies of his wounds and is succeeded by his son, Hussein.

Puntland autonomy

1998 – Puntland region declares autonomy.

2000 August – Clan leaders and senior figures meeting in Djibouti elect Abdulkassim Salat Hassan president of Somalia.

Somali refugees in Kenyan border town

Fighting in 2002 led Somali civilians to seek safety in Kenya

2000 October – Hassan and his newly-appointed prime minister, Ali Khalif Gelayadh, arrive in Mogadishu to heroes’ welcomes. Gelayadh announces his government, the first in the country since 1991.

2001 April – Somali warlords, backed by Ethiopia, announce their intention to form a national government within six months, in direct opposition to the country’s transitional administration.

2001 August – UN appeals for food aid for half a million people in the drought-hit south.

2004 August – In 14th attempt since 1991 to restore central government, a new transitional parliament inaugurated at ceremony in Kenya. In October the body elects Abdullahi Yusuf as president.

Hussein Aideed, other faction leaders, at peace talks in Kenya  2004
2004 peace deal: Factions agreed to set up new parliament

2004 December – Tsunami waves generated by an undersea earthquake off Indonesia hit the Somali coast and the island of Hafun. Hundreds of deaths are reported; tens of thousands of people are displaced.

2005 February – June – Somali government begins returning home from exile in Kenya, but there are bitter divisons over where in Somalia the new parliament should sit.

2005 November – Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi survives an assassination attempt in Mogadishu. Gunmen attack his convoy, killing six people.

Islamist advance

2006 February – Transitional parliament meets in Somalia – in the central town of Baidoa – for the first time since it was formed in Kenya in 2004.

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys
Sheikh Aweys: His Islamic militia controlled Mogadishu

2006 March and May – Scores of people are killed and hundreds are injured during fierce fighting between rival militias in Mogadishu. It is the worst violence in almost a decade.

2006 June-July – Militias loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts take control of Mogadishu and other parts of the south after defeating clan warlords.

Ethiopian troops reported in Somalia.

2006 July-August – Mogadishu’s air and seaports are re-opened for the first time since 1995.

2006 September – Transitional government and the Union of Islamic Courts begin peace talks in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

Somalia’s first known suicide bombing targets President Yusuf outside parliament in Baidoa.

2006 October – About 35,000 Somalis escaping drought, strict Islamist rule and the possibility of war have fled to Kenya refugee since the start of 2006, the UN reports.

War of words between Ethiopia and Somalia’s Islamists. Premier Meles says Ethiopia is “technically” at war with the Islamists because they had declared jihad on his country.

Islamists retreat

2006 December – UN Security Council resolution endorses African peacekeepers, specifies that neighbouring states should not deploy troops. Islamist leaders react by saying they will tackle foreign forces as invaders.

ETHIOPIA INTERVENES
Ethiopian soldier, Kismayu, January 2007
Ethiopian troops, government forces routed Islamist militias

Ethiopian and transitional government engage the Islamists in battle and soon put them to flight.

2006 December 27 – African Union, Arab League urge Ethiopia to pull out its troops. UN Security Council fails to agree on a statement calling on foreign forces to withdraw.

2006 December 28 – Joint Ethiopian and Somali government force captures Mogadishu.

2007 January – Islamists abandon their last stronghold, the port town of Kismayo.

President Abdullahi Yusuf enters Mogadishu for the first time since taking office in 2004.

US carries out air strikes in southern Somalia which it says targetted al-Qaeda figures, and which reportedly kill an unknown number of civilians. It is the first known direct US military intervention in Somalia since 1993. The strikes are defended by President Yusuf. They are condemned for killing innocent civilians.

Interim government imposes three-month state of emergency.

2007 February – UN Security Council authorises a six-month African Union peacekeeping mission for Somalia.

2007 March – African Union peacekeepers land at Mogadishu amid pitched battles between insurgents and government forces backed by Ethiopian troops. The Red Cross says it is the worst fighting in 15 years.

Humanitarian crisis grows

2007 April – UN says more than 320,000 Somalis have fled fighting in Mogadishu since February.

Hundreds of people are reported killed after several days of fierce clashes in the capital.

2007 May – The World Food Programme says a resurgence of piracy is threatening food supplies.

2007 June – A US warship shells suspected Al-Qaeda targets in Puntland.

Prime Minister Ghedi escapes a suicide car bomb attack on his compound.

Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi visits Mogadishu, pledging to withdraw his troops once peace takes hold.

2007 July – National reconciliation conference opens in Mogadishu and comes under mortar attack. Islamist leaders stay away from the talks.

Refugee exodus grows amid an upsurge in violence.

2007 August – Human Rights Watch accuses Ethiopian, Somali and insurgent forces of war crimes, and the UN Security Council of indifference during the recent conflict.

New opposition alliance

2007 September – Opposition groups form a new alliance to campaign for a military and diplomatic solution to the Somali conflict. They meet in Asmara, Eritrea.

2007 October – Ethiopian forces fire on demonstrators in Mogadishu protesting at the presence of what they call foreign invaders.

Heaviest fighting in Mogadishu reported since April. Ethiopians move reinforcements into the city.

CRACKDOWN ON PIRACY
French military seize pirates
French commandos snatch pirates in Somalia as foreign navies begin their fight-back

Prime Minister Ghedi resigns.

Aid agencies warn a catastrophe is unfolding in Somalia.

2007 November – Government shuts down Radio Shabelle, Radio Simba and Radio Banadir.

UN special envoy Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah describes Somalia’s humanitarian crisis the worst in Africa, suggests using international justice to curb the violence.

Nur Hassan Hussein, also known as Nur Adde, sworn in as new prime minister.

Number of Somali refugees hits one million, with nearly 200,000 fleeing the capital in the past two weeks, the UN reports.

2007 December – Ethiopian troops leave key central town of Guriel.

2008 January – Burundi becomes the second nation to contribute troops to the African Union peacekeeping force, sending 440 soldiers to Mogadishu.

US strikes

2008 March – US launches missile strike on southern town of Dhoble targeting suspected al-Qaeda member wanted for 2002 bombing of Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya.

Islamist-led insurgency continues to spread.

2008 April – EU calls for international efforts to tackle piracy off the Somali coast after a series of hijackings and attacks on vessels.

2008 April – US air strike kills Aden Hashi Ayro, a leader of the Al-Shabab insurgent group.

2008 May – Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi says he will keep troops inside Somalia until “jihadists” are defeated.

The UN Security Council unanimously votes to allow countries to send warships into Somalia’s territorial waters to tackle pirates.

2008 June – Government signs three-month ceasefire pact with opposition Alliance for Re-Liberation of Somalia.

The deal, which provides for Ethiopian troops to leave Somalia within 120 days, is rejected by Islamist leader Hassan Dahir Aweys, who says Union of Islamic Courts will not stop fighting until all foreign troops have left country.

2008 July – Head of the UN Development Programme in Somalia, Osman Ali Ahmed, killed by gunmen in Mogadishu.

Piracy concern

2008 September – Somali pirates’ hijacking of a Ukrainian ship carrying 33 tanks prompts widespread international concern. The US and other countries deploy navy ships to Somali waters.

2008 October – Nato agrees to despatch a naval force to patrol to waters off Somalia by the end of 2008, in an effort to control piracy.

A wave of coordinated bombings across the self-governing and relatively peaceful regions of Somaliland and Puntland, in Somalia’s north, kill at least 27 people.

2008 November – Somali pirates hijack an oil-laden Saudi super-tanker and demand a 25m dollar ransom for its return.

2008 December – Ethiopia announces plans to withdraw all forces by end of 2008.

President Abdullahi Yusuf tries to sack Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein over his attempts to draw moderate Islamists into the government. Parliament declares the dismissal unconstitutional and passes a vote of confidence in Mr Nur. Mr Yusuf resigns.

Al-Shabab advances

2009 January – Ethiopia completes the withdrawal of its troops. Fighters from the radical Islamist al-Shabab militia take control of the town of Baidoa, formerly a key stronghold of the transitional government.

Meeting in neighbouring Djibouti, Somalia’s parliament swears in 149 new members from the main opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia. It elects a moderate Islamist, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, president, and extends the transitional government’s mandate for another two years.

2009 February – President Ahmed selects Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke as prime minister. Mr Sharmarke, a former diplomat, is widely seen as a bridge between Islamists within the Somali government and the international community.

2009 May – Islamist insurgents launch onslaught on Mogadishu.

2009 June – Somalia’s security minister and more than 20 other people are killed in a suicide bombing at a hotel in Beledweyne, north of the capital Mogadishu.

President Ahmed declares a state of emergency as violence intensifies. Somali officials appeal to neighbouring countries to send troops to Somalia, as government forces continue to battle Islamist insurgents.

2009 September – Al-Shabab proclaims allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

Islamist rivalry

2009 October – Al-Shabab wins control over the southern port city of Kismayo after defeating the rival Hizbul-Islam Islamist militia, which withdraws to villages to the west. At least 20 are killed and 70 injured in fighting that threatens to spread to the rest of the Islamist-controlled south.

2009 November – Pirates seize a supertanker carrying oil from Saudi Arabia to the US, one of the largest ships captured off Somalia. The Greek-owned Maran Centaurus was about 1,300km (800 miles) off Somalia when it was hijacked.

Kidnappers released journalists Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan after 15 months in captivity.

2009 December – Al-Shabab denies being behind suicide attack that killed 22 people in Mogadishu, including three ministers.

2010 January – Al-Shabab declares it is ready to send fighters to support Islamist rebels in Yemen.

2010 February – Al-Shabab formally declares alliance with al-Qaeda, begins to concentrate troops in southern Mogadishu for a major offensive to capture the capital.

An Associated Press reporter in Mogadishu said the fighting is the heaviest since last May, when insurgents trying to topple the weak, U.N.-backed government launched massive attacks.

Residents fleeing the city said many of their relatives and neighbors are trapped in the war zone.

“My husband and six of my relatives and some of my neighbors are trapped inside their homes … by mortars and bullets flying every where,” said Dahabo Duhulow, a mother of six.

An Associated Press photo showed red couches piled high on a wooden, donkey-pulled cart as two Somalis helped propel the cart forward.

With his 2-year-old son clasped to his chest, Adow Yusuf Da’ud said that he had walked three hours through dangerous streets to escape the fighting.

“During the day and during the night, the shells were raining down into our residences,” Da’ud said. “We had to walk through the danger to escape. my oldest son is still there to take care of the house and the property”

More than half of those living in Somalia’s seaside capital have fled. Those remaining are mostly too poor to move or fear being attacked as they leave. Compounding their dilemma, an Islamist group issued a series of demands at the beginning of the year that caused the U.N.’s World Food Program to pull out of much of southern Somalia. Soon families fleeing into the countryside may find nothing to eat.

Neither the Islamists or the U.N.-backed government can take and hold enough ground for a decisive victory.

The government is supported by around 5,300 African Union peacekeepers, whose tanks and armored vehicles help them to outgun the insurgents. The insurgents favor mobile hit-and-run attacks, using snipers and mortar fire to make it hard for the government’s poorly trained and irregularly paid soldiers to hold their position.

The government hopes to break the stalemate with an upcoming offensive, but its launch has been delayed by problems that include inadequate equipment and training. There has been a surge in fighting since the beginning of the year, when the offensive was first being publicly discussed.

Even if the government push succeeds, few Somalis trust an administration that has failed to deliver even a semblance of services or security more than a year after it took power.

The arid Horn of Africa nation has not had a functioning government since the overthrow of a socialist dictator in 1991. Its civil war, which began into clan warfare, has morphed in recent years into a fight between an administration favored by the international community and an Islamist insurgency backed by hundreds of newly arrived foreign fighters.

© 2010 – 2013, Prof. Muse Tegegne. All rights reserved.

About Prof. Muse Tegegne
Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change & Liberation in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Americas. He has obtained Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva. A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies. He wrote on the problematic of the Horn of Africa extensively.

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