August 1, 2013: The peacekeeping force now consists of 4,040 Kenyan, 6,223 Ugandan, 5,432 Burundian, 850 Sierra Leonean, and 999 Djiboutian troops. There are also several thousand Ethiopian troops who constantly move back and forth across the Somali border as needed. There are a few hundred other foreign military and paramilitary personnel in Somalia, but no one will officially admit they are there (despite the occasional photo). In all, al Shabaab remnants now face some foreign peacekeepers and a growing number of fairly reliable local police and soldiers. Al Shabaab has become little more than a terrorist organization, using extortion, kidnapping, and theft to survive and finance enough attacks to keep its name and reputation in the news.
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.
Some Somali pirates, frustrated at over a year of failure (in the face of more effective naval patrols and better security on merchant ships), have switched to providing armed guards for foreign ships fishing illegally off the Somali coast. The payoff is not huge but it’s steady cash and relatively safe. The main danger is from other pirates attempting to rob the fishing ships or hijack them. Many pirates have returned to smuggling (people to Yemen or goods into Somalia). Many pirates are former fishermen and have returned to that business.
July 30, 2013: The government signed a deal with The Atlantic Marine and Offshore Group (a Dutch company) to organize and run a coast guard to protect ships off the Somali coast and deal with smuggling and other illegal activities. No details on how or when were given.
July 29, 2013: Al Shabaab released two of three Kenyan officials they had kidnapped 18 months ago. This was a negotiated deal and no other details were revealed. It was claimed that no ransom was paid.
July 27, 2013: In Mogadishu a car bomb went off outside the residential compound of the Turkish embassy, killing a Turkish policeman, two other security personnel, and a local civilian. Two other terrorist gunmen, who attempted to get into the compound, were shot dead. Al Shabaab took credit for the attack and the Turks said they were staying.
July 24, 2013: In Mogadishu a car bomb went off in a failed attempt to kill a Somali politician. One person died and two were wounded.
July 21, 2013: Ethiopia announced that the recent withdrawal of its troops from Baidoa was carried out because the AU peacekeepers now had control of the town and that security there was good. Other Ethiopian troops in Somalia would stay until they could be replaced by government or peacekeeper forces.
July 20, 2013: In Kismayo a land mine intended for peacekeepers instead killed a civilian and wounded two others.
July 18, 2013: In Nairobi, Kenya civilians reported what appeared to be a roadside bomb to police, who came and disarmed it. There are still pro-al Shabaab Somalis living in Kenya to try to carry out terrorist attacks to protest Kenyan peacekeeping efforts in Somalia.
Two Spanish aid workers (both doctors) kidnapped in 2011, while working at a Somali refugee camp in Kenya, have been released. This was a negotiated deal and no other details were revealed. It was claimed that no ransom was paid.
July 17, 2013: In Kismayo two journalists were wounded while covering a landmine explosion just outside the city. It is believed that one of the two militias fighting for control of the city were responsible.
July 16, 2013: In Kismayo a roadside bomb wounded three Kenyan peacekeepers.