Somalia

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Somalia

Post  polka23dot on Fri Aug 02, 2013 2:17 am

The new Somali government is having problems collecting taxes. So far this year five tax collectors have been killed, compared to ten for all of last year. The businesses who are expected to pay taxes have had two decades of unpleasant experience with clan militias, warlords, and terrorist groups “collecting taxes” and have developed clever, and sometimes violent, ways to avoid paying. The government tax collectors are seen as little different from the criminal groups when it comes to extorting money from merchants. Establishing a fair and acceptable tax system would be a major achievement for the new government. The UN accused Eritrea of paying some Somali warlords to help keep al Shabaab going. Eritrea was also accused of bribing Somali government officials to obtain information about the government and to maintain some access to government officials. This is believed to have played a part in the government releasing al Shabaab prisoners last year. Eritrea also passes on information obtained from Somali officials to al Shabaab, which has long been supplied with cash and weapons from Eritrea. The UN also continues to release audits of aid money that show Somali officials continuing to steal most of the money they have control over. For this reason, as much aid as possible is spent under close supervision by foreign aid officials. source: http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/somalia/articles/20130801.aspxb

With the reduction in al Shabaab activity in the last year has come an increase in corruption by government officials, clan leaders and even the AU (African Union) peacekeepers. The main victims of all this corruption are foreign aid organizations (who are increasingly giving up and leaving) and Somali women (who are more likely to be raped). The most notable aid group departure is Doctors Without Borders, which has been in Somalia for 22 years and treats over 50,000 patients a month. This outfit is the main source of medical care in many parts of the country but the medical staff have become popular kidnapping and robbery victims. The ransom is shared with clan leaders and government officials and thus the kidnappers are rarely caught and encouraged to do it again and again. Aid groups also have a lot of valuable stuff to steal (equipment as well as the aid itself) and now that it is more peaceful the economy is thriving and it’s easier to sell your stolen goods. Hospitals have been attacked and looted, even though wounded terrorists are also brought in and medical care demanded, or else. Armed robbery has always been a popular activity in Somalia and with less fighting between each other, gunmen can now concentrate on economic gain. source: http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/somalia/articles/20130817.aspx

Somalia really isn’t at peace. Bandits and clan militiamen are still all over the place and these guys tend to consider themselves a law unto themselves. The only real peace is in those areas controlled by AU peacekeepers (including Ethiopian and Kenyan troops). There is a growing “Green Zone” around the Mogadishu airport, where most foreign aid groups have set up bases. The Somali government has a growing force of police and soldiers but these are easily corrupted and often commit crimes rather than prevent them. The Somali government and most local leaders are very corrupt and foreign aid groups have to devote a lot of aid money to pay for security and getting the aid to people who need it. Doctors Without Borders, which operated most of the medical facilities in the country, recently pulled out because of the continuing threat to its staff and the high security expenses. Doctors Without Borders has never fled like this before because they had never faced as hostile an environment as they have in Somalia. Although it’s been over a year since the Somali pirates have captured a ship, some pirate groups limp along because they are still holding 97 sailors that no one will pay a ransom for. The sailors all served on ships operated by small shipping companies that did not have piracy insurance. The ship owners have abandoned their ships and crews and the families of the sailors are too poor to offer enough money (over $100,000 per captive) to satisfy the pirates. It is feared that eventually the pirates will begin killing some of these captives to encourage someone to come up with the cash. Since 2005, the Somali pirates have captured 149 ships and obtained over $300 million in ransom. Many pirate gangs have disbanded in the last year, but several remain active and ships are still occasionally stalked at sea by armed pirates. source: http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/somalia/articles/20130903.aspx

In Mogadishu two years of increasing security has attracted more foreigners (diplomats, aid agencies and entrepreneurs) and that has sent real estate values increasing by a factor of ten or more. This has forced out many long-term renters and led to corrupt officials assisting in the theft of some properties. This is usually done using false ownership documents obtained by bribing a government official and then bribing police to assist in the eviction. Court officials are then bribed to make the theft stick. source: http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/somalia/articles/20130923.aspx

The Somali politicians are accused of being distracted by corruption (stealing foreign aid, and anything else they can get their hands on) and not paying attention to things like economic development and law enforcement. Somalia is still something of a warlord playground and the senior politicians consider themselves major players, not statesmen. As happens in many countries where tribal loyalties are strong, the national leaders in Somalia are more loyal to family and clan than to running the country. Again, in a similar pattern the only loyalty that appeals to everyone is religion. But in practice Islam (or any other religion) has never been sufficiently respected to get effective performance out of national leaders. Al Shabaab disagrees with this, but religious fanatics are, by definition, operating in a different reality. source: http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/somalia/articles/20131011.aspx

The latest international corruption rankings put Somalia, Afghanistan, and North Korea at the bottom of the list, as the most corrupt countries on the planet. In Somalia the corruption is encouraged by the intense clan loyalties and the desire of high level officials to look out for their family and clan first and Somalia later, maybe. The inability of government officials to leave clan politics out of their decision making and halt the theft of government funds (nearly all of it from foreign donors) has made unity and economic growth nearly impossible. The donor nations warn that without a crackdown on the corruption and the clan rivalries the foreign aid will be reduced and what does arrive will have a lot more conditions attached. These include bringing in foreigners to supervise the spending of the aid. If the foreign aid supervisors are unable to work because of threats and violence, the aid will stop. Most Somali leaders don’t believe the donor nations will completely withdraw and that the donors can be manipulated via media exploitation of Somalis suffering from famine and disease. The donor nations are also angry about how the government is dealing with opposition or anti-corruption politicians. Murder is one of the tactics the governing parties are believed to be using to silence critics. The donor nations are also very upset at how the government has treated rape victims who went public. The victims were arrested and the government is trying to force the accusers to shut up. Somalis tend to view this sort of misbehavior as tradition and the way things have always been done. source: http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/somalia/articles/20131214.aspx

The big problem in Somalia is that the concept of a true democracy is not well understood. But a council of clan leaders and warlords working out deals is. But that means lots of bribes and other forms of corruption. It also means no “civil society” and that’s the result of tradition fighting change to a standstill in Somalia.  Tradition means the clan is the primary loyalty, and everyone else is a potential victim, or enemy. Change means civil society, where democracy and negotiation, not threats, bribes and violence, are used to settle disputes. Old customs are hard to give up, and Somalia has been resisting change for over a century... Living off extortion and other criminal enterprises has always been popular in Somalia where warlords who could cobble together and maintain a private army were respected... Pirates captured no ships off Somalia in 2013, which makes it the fourth year of declining piracy activity off Somalia. However, pirates are still active, although their number has dropped more than 90 percent since 2012... In Kenya Islamic terrorists among its Somali minority and over half a million refugees from Somalia continue to make several attacks a month, often using hand grenades or gunfire. This is why Kenya keeps insisting on forcing the refugees back into Somalia. source: http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/somalia/articles/20140108.aspx

UN investigators accuse the Somali government officials of selling weapons and ammo to anyone who will pay, including al Shabaab.  The most frequent customers were clan militias of clans corrupt officials  belong to. In 2013 the UN eased the arms embargo on Somalia so the government could arm newly trained troops. But like all other aid provided to Somalia, there were always some Somalis in charge who would steal some, often a lot, of that aid.  Corruption remains the biggest problem in Somalia, followed by tribalism and Islamic terrorism. source: http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/somalia/articles/20140214.aspx

Rampant corruption in Somalia and, to a lesser extent, in Kenya, has made it increasingly difficult for the UN to get nations to donate money or goods for Somali refugees or drought victims. Previous donors have nothing but horror stories of corrupt local officials, warlords, Islamic terrorists and even Somali security forces stealing aid (for resale in local markets) and anything the aid workers have that is worth taking. There are better places (where the aid is more likely to reach those it is intended for) to send the limited amount of aid money available. Somalia’s bad reputation is increasingly keeping the aid away. Even UN predictions that over 200,000 could die from a lack of aid is having little effect. Why donate if you are pretty certain (from recent experience) that the aid will never reach those who will die without it... The Somali security forces continue to be crippled by corruption. Government officials and senior officers steal much of the donated cash intended for the troops. This means the troops are often paid late (if at all) and don’t receive needed equipment. Ammo is often in short supply as are heavy weapons. The original plan was to organize and train a force of 28,000 soldiers and 12,000 police. This was to take three years and cost $160 million. The corruption has crippled this effort and less than half the forces has been raised and desertions (often because of no pay and other shortages) keeps the effort to build the security forces from succeeding. Most of the fighting against al Shabaab is done by 22,000 foreign peacekeepers and local clan militias fighting in self-defense. One thing al Shabaab and the Somali government agree on is opposition to Kenyan efforts to push Somali refugees out of Kenya. There are over half a million such refugees and only about 400,000 are legally registered as such and these live in large refugee camps near the Somali border. The camps have become bases for Somali gangsters and even some al Shabaab groups. Worse yet are the nearly 100,000 unregistered and illegal Somalis in Kenya. Most of these live among Kenyan Somalis in coastal towns and cities. These Somali communities tolerate the presence of al Shabaab and this provides support and secure bases for al Shabaab men planning attacks in Kenya. In response to those attacks over the last two months Kenya has arrested more than 4,000 Somalis in the capital and coastal towns and forced 2,000 illegal Somali migrants to move to refugee camps. So far nearly 500 Somalis have been expelled from Kenya and more are to follow. This has outraged the UN, the Somali government and al Shabaab, who all, for different reasons, want continued access to refuge for Somalis inside Kenya. That clashes with Kenyan popular opinion, which is increasingly hostile to all Somalis. As energetic as the Kenyan counter-terrorism efforts are they are crippled by the corruption so common in Kenya. If you can afford to pay large enough bribes you can get the security forces to ignore your illegal status and go harass someone else. Thousands of Somali refugees who cannot afford bribes have voluntarily returned to Somalia. Al Shabaab has responded by announcing that it was going to increase its attacks in Kenya. Technically this is an effort to coerce Kenya to withdraw its peacekeepers from Somalia, but it also about maintaining refuge for Somalis in Kenya. source: http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/somalia/articles/20140616.aspx

Somalia: UN investigators believe that al Shabaab is still raising $2-3 million a month via extortion. This is done at temporary roadblocks or by coercing businesses to pay protection money to avoid al Shabaab attack. This cash is essential to keep the Islamic terrorist group going because many essential items cannot be stolen and must be paid for. While al Shabaab income was cut sharply with the loss of ports the goods to be shipped still must travel roads to reach the port and that’s where al Shabaab gets them. The security forces are having a hard time keeping all the roads clear of extortionists and bandits. Many businesses prefer to pay rather than fight, and this also aids al Shabaab. Getting rid of this sort of banditry is difficult since it has been part of the culture for as long as anyone can remember... In Kenya the government is having a hard time with Somalis and Kenyans who are ethnic Somalis. These two groups are waging a terror campaign against the government to force Kenya to withdraw peacekeepers from Somalia and, in effect, surrender control of portions of northern Somalia where Somali refugees have been housed. The Somalis also want the government to back off on interfering with illegal activities by Somalis in the coastal cities. These demands (some of them implied) are political suicide for any politician who gives in but there are some politicians who are leaning towards some form of surrender. This is not the first time Somalis have waged a terror campaign to get their way with the Kenyan tribes. The British colonial government put an end to centuries of this in the 19th century. But the Kenyans remember and most do not want to return the pre-colonial way of doing things, no matter how much the Somalis demand it... The U.S. has admitted that it has had personnel in Somalia since 2007 and that currently there are 120 Americans in Somalia. source: http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/somalia/articles/20140709.aspx

polka23dot
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Re: Somalia

Post  polka23dot on Mon Jul 28, 2014 2:03 pm

There are few Somalis who feel an obligation to serve a national government honestly. First loyalty is to family and clan and this justifies all manner of theft when others (people not of your clan or family) are involved. Foreigners are the best victims because they are more easily deceived, for a while at least. A growing number of investigative reports by foreign donor states document extensive corruption at all levels of government and society in Somalia and no signs that the stealing is diminishing... This widespread amorality and general lack of what Westerners call “civil society” makes it easier for Islamic terrorists to bribe government employees and members of the security forces to facilitate terror attacks. This also makes it more difficult for foreign aid groups to hire reliable local staff. The pervasive corruption makes nation building by Somalis or foreigners extremely difficult and often dangerous because most Somalis are armed and prone to violence if opposed. source: http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/somalia/articles/20140728.aspx

Al Shabaab is now broke and without a strong leader. There are still many Somalis who believe Islamic terrorism is the solution to the problems of corruption and poor government, but there is no longer a major organization to join and fight for that ideal (which most Somalis reject). Nevertheless al Shabaab still exists and could continue in its diminished form for years, or longer. The UN and many major donor nations (including the U.S.) have threatened to cut aid if the Somali government does not halt its feuding and do something about the corruption, mismanagement and all manner of bad behavior that have long characterized what passes for a Somali government. The most recent example of this is the president and prime minister openly feuding over who gets appointed to senior positions. This is not about appointing the most effective officials, but the ones who will steal the most for the president or prime minister (the two most powerful politicians currently in government.) A recent UN study found that many officials will steal over 70 percent of the government funds they have control over. source: http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/somalia/articles/20141122.aspx

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