29 May 2016

Status Report on the War in Somalia

May 26, 2016

Somalia: One Thing Everyone Can Agree On

In the south Kenyan peacekeepers reported multiple encounters with al Shabaab in the last week which resulted in over 80 dead Islamic terrorists and nearly twenty casualties (mostly wounded) among the soldiers. Kenyan troops have been patrolling the Somali side of the border, in cooperation with anti-terrorist local militias, since 2011. This has reduced but not eliminated al Shabaab and Somali bandit activity in Kenya. 

The 22,000 peacekeepers, along with about as many Somali soldiers and pro-government local militias, have al Shabaab on the run in the rest of the country. But actually destroying the Islamic terrorist organization has proved more difficult. The widespread corruption and unemployment (largely caused by the corruption) provide a steady supply of angry young men willing to “defend Islam”, improve their economic prospects and engage in some traditional mayhem. Despite the increasing likelihood of an early death al Shabaab leaders have adapted. They operate in smaller units, no longer congregate in large groups for any purpose and try to establish cells (small groups of Islamic terrorists) in cities to carry out high-profile (lots of media coverage) attacks. 

To help counter this the United States has quietly sent in more UAVs and electronic monitoring aircraft to help locate the more dispersed al Shabaab members. The American UAVs will still use missiles to attack any senior leaders they locate but otherwise the Americans are just providing information for the peacekeepers and other security forces to act on. 

Despite growing opposition from Somalia, the UN and foreign aid groups Kenya is moving forward with its month old decision to close two major refugee camps and send all the Somali refugees back home. The Dadaab Refugee Camp in northeast Kenya has become the largest refugee camp in the world since it was established in 1991. Containing over 330,000 Somalis it was built outside the town of Dadaab. The population in the area is largely ethnic Somali but the camp is unpopular because it disrupts more than benefits the locals and has become a base for criminal gangs and Islamic terrorists. The other camp, Kakuma, is in the northwest and has some 150,000 refugees from South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia. Like Dadaab it has become unpopular with nearby Kenyans and for the same reasons.

The UN is trying to convince Kenya to keep the camps open but faces accusations of repeated broken promises and tolerating bad behavior by refugees. In 2015 Kenya also sought to expel all (over 600,000) legal and illegal Somali refugees in the country. The expulsion threat came in response to ever more horrific al Shabaab attacks inside Kenya, including an April 2015 massacre of 148 Christian students at a university. The UN halted this expulsion by making a lot of promises it did not keep. Now the UN says it will help with refugee camp security and moving more of the refugees back to Somalia. The UN offers this as an alternative to closure of the camps and expulsion of all the Somalis back to Somalia. These assurances are not very convincing because they have been made before and the UN quietly failed to deliver every time. 

In Somalia politicians and al Shabaab agree that Kenya should stop mistreating Somalis in Kenya if only because this mistreatment is used by al Shabaab for recruiting. The Kenyan government recognizes this problem and talks about curbing violence against Somalis in Kenya but controlling popular hatred of and hostility towards murderous Somalis is even more difficult. The local Kenyans vote while the Somali refugees don’t. Thus the continuing al Shabaab activity in Kenya reminds every one of the centuries of Somalis raiding into Kenya. It’s an old problem that does not lend itself to quick or easy solutions. Refugee officials have always had problems maintaining security in the Somali refugee camps and a growing number of foreign aid organizations are withdrawing from some camps because of the chronic violence. Kenya believes that it tried to deal with the refugees for 25 years and found it is not worth the effort, especially in terms of many Kenyans who have been victims of Somali violence since the refugees were allowed in. 

The Kenyans also note (and the foreign media does not report much at all) that the UN and other foreign aid groups tend to be corrupt and full of people who are more interested in getting rich than in protecting Kenyans from unruly refugees. The Somalis in the camps also complain about the corruption but little is done to even recognize this problem much less do anything about it. 

One of the few things most Somalis, Kenyans and even many aid workers can agree on is the role of corruption in creating and sustaining the violence in Somalia and the refugee camps. To put that into perspective take a look at corruption in the region. Corruption is measured each year by an international survey. The results are presented using a 1 (most corrupt) to 100 (not corrupt) scale. The two most corrupt nations have a rating of 8 (North Korea and Somalia tied at 167th place) and the least corrupt is 91 (Denmark). A look at this index each year provides a reason for unrest in many countries. While there is less corruption in the developed countries, in many regions it is very bad. African nations are the most corrupt, followed by Middle Eastern ones. Kenya currently ranks 139th (in a tie with neighbor Uganda), Ethiopia 103rd, Djibouti 99th and Eretria 154th (tied with Yemen across the Gulf of Aden). The UN is not ranked but if it were it would be closer to the bottom (most corrupt) than top of the list. 

Corruption not only makes groups like al Shabaab possible (as a promised cure for corruption) but also makes it easier for al Shabaab to survive. Islamic terrorists need cash to keep going and al Shabaab has survived in large part because it was easier in this part of the world to deal in outlawed good. In Africa that usually means drugs or valuable (and portable) minerals and gems. But in Somalia it has been outlawed wildlife products. This includes ivory, rhino horns and other parts of wild animals that find many eager and wealthy buyers in the Middle East and East Asia. 

May 24, 2016: In Mogadishu police cornered and killed an armed (with a pistol and bombs) al Shabaab man. The police would have preferred to take this fellow alive and question him about what al Shabaab was up to. But like so many Islamic terrorists this one was convinced that surrender was not an option. 

May 15, 2016: In Mogadishu police raided an al Shabaab hideout and although no arrests were made they did seize seven laptop computers that had been fitted with explosives. Al Shabaab increasingly hides explosives in consumer goods, the better get these weapons past security and into military bases or government facilities. Normally airport security deals with laptops with explosives by having them turned on, scanned and exposed to an explosives detector. But airports in Africa often don’t have this degree of security. 
In central Somalia (Hiran) al Shabaab attacked a village guarded by soldiers and peacekeepers and were repulsed. There were apparently no casualties as the Islamic terrorists quickly realized the place was protected and retreated. In rural areas al Shabaab gets by via looting villages or unarmed travelers. 

WASHINGTON — The State Department’s inspector general has sharply criticized Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, saying she had not sought permission to use it and would not have received it if she had. 

In a report delivered to members of Congress on Wednesday, the inspector general said that Mrs. Clinton “had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business” with officials responsible for handling records and security but that inspectors “found no evidence” that she had requested or received approval from anyone at the department to conduct her state business on a personal email. 

The report also said that department officials “did not — and would not — approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct Department business.” 

It also added new detail about Mrs. Clinton’s motivation for using the private server, which she has said was set up for convenience. In November 2010, her deputy chief of staff for operations prodded her about “putting you on state email or releasing your email address to the department so you are not going to spam.” Mrs. Clinton, however, replied that she would consider a separate address or device “but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.” 

The report, as well as an F.B.I. investigation and other legal challenges seeking information about her use of the server, is certain to keep alive a controversy that has shadowed Mrs. Clinton’s campaign for the presidency. The events have all come to a climax just as she is close to defeating Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination. 

Mrs. Clinton and her aides have played down the inquiries, saying that she would cooperate with investigators to put the email issue behind her. Even so, through her lawyers, she declined to be interviewed by the State Department’s inspector general as part of his review. So did several of her senior aides. 

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign spokesman, Brian Fallon, issued a statement saying the findings that the problems with record keeping extended beyond Mrs. Clinton’s tenure. 

“Contrary to the false theories advanced for some time now, the report notes that her use of personal email was known to officials within the Department during her tenure, and that there is no evidence of any successful breach of the Secretary’s server,” Mr. Fallon said in the statement. 

The report broadly criticized the State Department as well, saying that officials had been “slow to recognize and to manage effectively the legal requirements and cybersecurity risks” that emerged in the era of emails, particularly those of senior officials like Mrs. Clinton. 

It said that “longstanding systemic weaknesses” in handling electronic records went “well beyond the tenure of any one secretary of state” but the body of the report focused on the 30,000 emails that Mrs. Clinton sent and received on her private server. 

The State Department issued numerous warnings dating back a decade about the cyber-security risks of using personal emails accounts for government business, the report said, and Mrs. Clinton was personally sent a memo in 2011 warnings of hackers trying to target unclassified, personal email accounts. She was also given a classified, in-person briefing on the dangers, the report said. 

The report found that while dozens of State Department employees used personal email accounts periodically over the years, only three officials were found to have used it “exclusively” for day-to-day operations: Mrs. Clinton; Colin Powell, the secretary of state under President George W. Bush; and Scott Gration, the ambassador to Kenya from 2011 to 2012. 

While State Department officials never directly told Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Powell that they needed to end their use of personal email, the report found, they did do so with Mr. Gration, a lower-level diplomat who did not have the same political clout. 

5 Key Points From the Report 

Hillary Clinton should have asked for approval to use a private email address and server for official business. Had she done so, the State Department would have said no. 

She should have surrendered all of her emails before leaving the administration. Not doing so violated department policies that comply with the Federal Records Act. 

When her deputy suggested putting her on a State Department account, she expressed concern about her personal emails being exposed. 

In January 2011, the Clintons’ IT consultant temporarily shut down its private server because, he wrote, he believed “someone was trying to hack us.” 

The State Department began disciplinary proceedings against Scott Gration, then the American ambassador to Kenya, for refusing to stop using his personal email for official business. 

The response to Mr. Gration’s situation “demonstrates how such usage is normally handed when Department cybersecurity officials become aware of it,” the report said. 

State Department security officials warned Mr. Gration in 2011 that he was not authorized to be using personal email for government business in Kenya. He continued doing so anyway, however, and the State Department initiated disciplinary action against him over “his failure to follow these directions” and several other undisclosed infactions, the report said. He resigned in 2012 before any discipline was imposed. 

The report did not delve deeply into the issue that has become the focus of the F.B.I.’s investigation — the references in dozens of emails to classified information, including 22 emails that the Central Intelligence Agency considered “top secret.” 

But it called into question the security risk of using a private server for what were clearly sensitive discussions of the nation’s foreign policy. It noted that Mrs. Clinton sent or received most of the emails that traversed her server from a mobile device, her BlackBerry. 

Security and records management officials told the inspector general’s office that “Secretary Clinton never demonstrated to them that her private server or mobile device met minimum information security requirements,” the report said. 

The report also disclosed an attempt to hack into Mrs. Clinton’s server in January 2011. 

It said a “nondepartmental adviser” to Bill Clinton — apparently Bryan Pagliano, who installed the private server — informed the department that he had shut down the system because “someone was trying to hack us and while they did not get in, I didn’t want to let them have a chance.” 

The attack continued later that day, prompting another official to write to two of Mrs. Clinton’s top aides, Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan, to warn them not to send Mrs. Clinton “anything sensitive.” She explained that she would “explain more in person.” 

The report also criticized Mrs. Clinton for not adhering to the department’s rules for handling records under the Federal Records Act once she stepped down in January 2013. 

“Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act,” the report said. 

The inspector general also said that while Mrs. Clinton had turned over her email, she had not included those she sent and received in her first months as secretary from January to April 2009. In 2015, the Department of Defense also turned over 19 emails between Mrs. Clinton and David H. Petraeus that had been sent from his official email account to her private account but had not been included among those turned over. 

Mrs. Clinton belatedly turned over 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department, which she said were all the records “in her custody.” 

But investigators determined that her production of those records was “incomplete,” and they found gaps in the documents that she turned over. 

The controversy over Mrs. Clinton’s emails could force significant changes in the department, which has faced new scrutiny about its handling of records, including from the conservative watchdog organization, Judicial Watch. The inspector general made a series of recommendations for the department, and a spokesman, Mark Toner, said they would be implemented. 

Secretary of State John Kerry also acknowledged to the inspector general that he had used a personal account at times during his transition between leaving the Senate and joining the State Department, but that after becoming secretary and discussing the issue with aides, he “began primarily using his Department email account to conduct official business.” 

Mr. Kerry said that while he occasionally responded to people who emailed him on his personal account, he would preserve the records. 

No comments: