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Halting Illegal Arms And Ammunition Supply To Militias

African Union demands no fly zone over Somalia

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Mar 07, 2010

The African Union, which maintains a peace keeping force in Somalia – incidentally with a very large contingent of Ugandan troops, over which radical Islamic militias have threatened reprisals against the country – has made it known that it asked the United Nations to impose a total no fly zone and harbor blockade against Somalia in order to finally halt the illegal supply of arms and ammunition to the militias. Much of the arms is alleged to be flown in from Eritrea, while shipments from further abroad are also said to regularly reach the Somali ports and harbors under control of the radicals.

In addition to stopping these supplies, it will then also serve as an added deterrent against the Somali ocean terrorists, as their leaving harbor or returning with bounty from the open ocean will be made much more difficult once a naval blockade is in place, while the previously seen airdrops of ransom onto ships held or an agreed point on land will also be made impossible.

An air embargo can be enforced through regular patrols of fixed-wing aircraft operating from neighboring Djibouti, where naval coalition partners have established bases, while the use of surveillance satellites and UAVs can also provide crucial intelligence in regard of unauthorized flight movements.

One airline flying "miraa" into Somalia on a daily basis from Nairobi already objected to the move, however, while asking not to be named when the intention to publish became apparent during the call, claiming an air embargo would "ruin us" financially and "many others too," whose daily flights to Somalia would then be made impossible. Miraa is a still legal drug, often grown in the Meru area of Kenya, and shipped fresh every day to Somalia where many men chew it, then staying dazed and unproductive for much of the day.

The AU, however, is not likely to listen to such selfish interests when it comes to halting the supply of arms and ammunition to the radical militias as it would boost their own position and that of the shaky central government quite substantially. A shipping source in Mombasa also expressed delight over the news, saying on condition of anonymity: "If this is true and comes off, it could make shipping easier again. If these pirates can be kept on land through a blockade or they cannot return because there is a naval blockade, this menace could end soon."

Sources close to the naval coalition forces this correspondent is in touch with, however, declined to be drawn into a discussion over how likely it is that the UN would grant such a sweeping mandate and, in particular, how many naval assets would be required from the coalition members to effectively block the Somali coast line.

African Union demands no fly zone over Somalia
Somalia Militia / Image via

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