Mogadishu, Somalia (UPI) Feb 15, 2011
As Somalia enters its 21st year of war, the U.S.-backed transitional government has doled out long-overdue back pay to its troops and says it's preparing a big offensive against Islamist al-Shahaab rebels who hold most of the lawless country.
But the insurgents, who are linked to al-Qaida, were joined by longtime rivals of the Hizb-ul Islami militia in November and look like they're ready to make a big push of their own against the beleaguered regime.
The TFG, installed with the aid of the U.S.-backed Ethiopian army in December 2006, controls only a tiny enclave of Mogadishu since the Islamists seized most of the ancient port city in May 2009.
It is kept going only by U.S. and European funding, largely aimed at preventing an Islamist takeover in the Horn of Africa country.
Both sides talk big as a matter of course. Both mounted major offensives in late 2010, in which al-Shabaab made some gains in Mogadishu. But neither was able to deliver a knockout blow.
Somalia hasn't had a functioning government since clan warlords united to topple dictator Mohammed Siad Barre in January 1991 and then turned on each other.
The country has been torn by perpetual clan and militia wars since, with tens of thousands killed, and in recent years has become an arena in the U.S.-led campaign against al-Qaida.
It's seems strange now, but under Barre, Somalia's military was the fourth most powerful in Africa behind South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria. But the TFG's troops are poorly trained and led and miserably demoralized, according to Western aid agencies working in Somalia.
Despite al-Shabaab's merger with Hizb-ul Islam, the insurgents are plagued with clan rivalries, internal rifts and defections so it's unlikely any new offensives will break the current stalemate. But both sides seem to building up to a showdown of sorts.
In December, the U.N. Security Council voted to increase the number of African Union peacekeeping forces in Mogadishu, known as Amisom, from 8,000 to 12,000.
Amisom, mainly made up of troops from Uganda and Burundi, is the most competent force the TFG has and, because of its firepower, is considered to be the only reason the regime hasn't been defeated.
Al-Shabaab appears to have anticipated the U.N. move by absorbing Hizb-ul Islami to counter the TFG's plans.
On Nov. 20, Prime Minister Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed vowed to drive al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu, the battered seaside capital that has borne the brunt of the conflict, in a 100-day campaign.
But the TFG's army is a motley collection of ex-militiamen and others who underwent fairly basic training in Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Djibouti and Ethiopia, paid for by U.S. and EU funds.
In January, some 8,000 government troops received salaries that hadn't been paid for months -- mainly because their commanders and officials in the corrupt regime largely funded by Western governments were pocketing the money.
The Jamestown Foundation, a Washington think tank that monitors global security, reported Feb. 10 that the United States spent $6.8 million to train some 2,100 Somali soldiers in Djibouti, where U.S. forces maintain a sizeable counter-terrorism base, and Uganda in 2009.
The EU spent another $6 million training 2,000 men in Somalia, it said.
Conditions with TFG forces got so bad in recent months that U.N. sources and Western aid groups said hundreds of soldiers were deserting, defecting to the insurgents or simply selling their weapons and ammunition to the other side.
Their camps as "grisly," Jamestown reported. "Some soldiers suffer from malnutrition and the wounded do not receive enough medication."
Information Minister Abdulkareem Jama said Jan. 14 the army will get another 4,000 men in the coming months to raise its strength to 12,000.
He didn't say where the troops would come from, although 1,000 Somalis are reported to be undergoing training in Uganda at this time.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Africa News - Resources, Health, Food
Tunisian army patrols ports to stop migrant exodus
Zarzis, Tunisia (AFP) Feb 14, 2011
Tunisian troops patrolled southern fishing ports Monday, controlling access and checking identities in a bid to halt a Europe-bound exodus of illegal immigrants that has alarmed Italy. Armoured vehicles moved through the town of Zarzis and blocked entry to the port where soldiers armed with Kalashnikovs and truncheons allowed only people identified as fishermen to enter, an AFP reporter said ... read more
Haiti candidates press for more quake aid|
Australia flags taxpayer levy for floods
Lucky crash escape for Honduran ministers
UN envoy touts Haiti education 'overhaul'
Smartphones the new El Dorado for computer criminals
Long lost silent movies returned to US
Google unveils payment platform for online content
Portable devices linked to US pedestrian death spike
Rising Seas Will Affect Major US Coastal Cities By 2100
Natural Power Assist The Shetland Islands To Map Their Marine Renewable Resources
New Way To Estimate Global Rainfall And Track Ocean Pollution
Feds still working on Asian carp problem
Polar Bear Births Could Plummet With Climate Change
Thawing permafrost may speed global warming: study
VIMS Team Glides Into Polar Research
Volcanic vents found in Antarctic waters
World Phosphorus Use Crosses Critical Threshold
Controversial Swedish wolf hunt ends, one escapes
China rice laced with heavy metals: report
Philippines rice 2010 farm output hit by weather
Australia cyclone weakens after hitting Darwin
Increased flooding driven by climate change: study
Sri Lanka flood damage $600 mln
Powerful quake rocks Chile year after disaster
Somalia: Jihadists, regime eye big pushes
Chinese firm signs $1.2bn Khartoum airport deal
South Sudan: Born under a bad sign?
Tunisian army patrols ports to stop migrant exodus
Living Fast But Dying Older Is Possible; If You're A Sheep
Revisited Human-Worm Relationships Shed Light On Brain Evolution
On Their Own Two Feet
Ancient Teeth Raise New Questions About The Origins Of Modern Man
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|