Mogadishu: The Burundian Nightmare
February 25, 2011 5 Comments
As the battle rages on through its sixth day and the capital rocks with explosions and the rattle of gunfire, so does the journey of the corpses of Burundian peacekeeper’s in Somalia. In addition to the seven peacekeepers killed by the Islamists in Wednesday’s raid on the Ministry of Defense building, the corpses of yet another NINE peacekeepers were yesterday paraded around the capital city and neighbouring towns. Claiming to have killed a total of 16 Burundian peacekeepers (plus one taken as prisoner) in the course of the recent battles, Al-Shabab fighters have been receiving an unusual support from many of the displaced population here.
The nine corpses were yesterday driven to Ceelasha Biyaha, apparently after residents there requested to see the corpses of ‘the enemy that has displaced us from our homes.’ It is said that hundreds of angry people had gathered at the scene. Many of them accused the peacekeepers of deliberately targeting and shelling populated residential areas in the capital, thus forcing them to relocate to Ceelasha Biyaha or Afgooye. A woman, speaking to local radio stations, said:
‘it is these infidels that have killed my three sons. They have destroyed my home and my family, and it is because of them I now live in this small tent with no food and no one to look after me. Damn them infidels!’
Another caller, a businessman, said:
‘I’ve had to relocate my business to Ceelasha Biyaha because of AMISOM’s shelling. My shop was destroyed by a mortar. I have lost a everything and had to start afresh. They deserve what they got. They deserve to be killed. Why do they keep killing our people? Why did they cross thousands of kilometres and come to our country to bomb our people. If they want peace they should go back to their country.’
The angry public could not be managed. Women and children soon began kicking and dragging the corpses of the peacekeepers. Many of the women had even removed their sandals and began hitting the corpses. Mogadishu’s residents, however, also point the finger of blame at the West, particularly the US. But the US is not directly involved in the daily Mogadishu battles, save for their ‘special operations’ that target ‘known’ terrorists.
Through the Somali government and the AU forces, the US has tried everything to crush the Islamists without directly becoming entangled in the mess that Mogadishu is in – including the flawed CIA-funded counter-terrorism operations that enlisted the services of notorious warlords in 2006, or coaxing tribal leaders in Al-Shabab controlled regions to revolt against the islamists and giving handsome payments to tribal/clan elders in the tiny government-controlled areas.
None of them seem to have worked, and now with the escalating battles, the US will face some difficult choices. According to Katherine Zimmerman at Critical Threats:
“The prospect of al Shabaab taking control of Mogadishu is alarming and requires a much more careful examination of Western policies toward the Horn of Africa than they have so far received. But the details of the potential collapse of the TFG need even more urgent consideration. Even if the TFG can be saved, it is quite possible that military exigencies on the ground in the coming weeks or months will lead to requests for external military assistance by AMISOM forces. The U.S. may well face some difficult choices