Somalia Journal, Day Nine: Gunfire is Boring

27.11.07

Categorie: Africa, Axe in Somalia, U.N. Peacekeeping |

Someone just unloaded what sounded like half a clip from an AK-47 right outside my hotel in Mogadishu. I was in my skivvies working on a story (it’s hot, real hot) at the time. I pulled on my pants – forgetting to zip up, of course – grabbed my camera and scampered downstairs expecting an Al Shabab frontal assault on the hotel.

A man was sweeping. Another had his feet up on the coffee table in the lobby watching a truly embarrassing Bollywood flick. A third man jabbered on his cell phone in the courtyard. No one seemed the least bit concerned. The only surprising thing is that after week of nightly explosions and countless tales of extreme brutality in this seething city, I still get excited when someone squeezes off a few rounds on the street.

ugandan-african-union-contingent-in-mogadishu-nov-25-2007small.jpgWe went patrolling with the African Union’s Ugandan contingent today, zipping between their airport base, the seaport they control and a couple key road intersections that they’ve wrested from insurgent control. It’s an army on a shoestring: no air support, no robots, none of the camp luxuries that most Western armies enjoy. But they do have tanks, machine guns and sandbags, and they aren’t afraid to use them. At the critical Four Kilometer roundabout downtown, where roads shoot out in every direction, Captain Felestino Egau and his men have beat back two insurgent assaults in just the last couple months, suffering only a couple injuries. Peacekeepers in other parts of the world (U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, I’m looking at you) are mostly talk, and tend to hide in their holes when someone, say Israel, rolls across the border. But the Ugandans fight.

Of course, Lebanon is no Somalia. People still vacation in Lebanon. But here in Moga, when we journalists joined the Ugandans for a group photo beside one of their Russian-made tanks, I cracked, “This is me on holiday in Mogadishu.” And everyone laughed and laughed.

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7 Responses to “Somalia Journal, Day Nine: Gunfire is Boring”

  1. FooMan says:

    I was in Uncle Ronnie’s Navy in the early 80′s….When the Isreali’s pulled what they called “operation peace in galili” (I know it’s spelled wrong). A Marine major assigned to peace keeping on the lebanese border was approached by ‘a bearded guy in a jeep who looked hippie. When he told me to move I informed that we repsented the UN peacekeepers and were not going to move. He informed me that he was, in fact, an Isreali brigadeer general and that we had 24 guys in three fighting positions with no antitank weapons and that he had 163 tanks and that he was coming through.’ They gave the marines 4 hours to evacuate and then rolled through into the Bekaa valley. They evacced that jarheads to us and we watched as the score after four days was Isreal 144 Syria/Lebanon 1! Peacekeeping is a wonderful thing put you can only keep what both sides actually want!

  2. [...] Day One: “You Come to Africa, But You May Never Leave.” Day Two: Barnstorming! Day Three: Enclaves Day Four: Everybody Parley Down! Day Five: “I Quit!” Day Six: ”We’re Here and We’re Surviving.” Day Seven: Wise Old Children Day Eight: Riot! Day Nine: Gunfire Is Boring Day Ten: Bombs Are Boring Day Eleven: Games Kids Play Day Twelve: This Cash Is Broke Day Thirteen: Warlording 101 Somalia pics No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong> [...]

  3. [...] Related: Day One: “You Come to Africa, But You May Never Leave.” Day Two: Barnstorming! Day Three: Enclaves Day Four: Everybody Parley Down! Day Five: “I Quit!” Day Six: ”We’re Here and We’re Surviving.” Day Seven: Wise Old Children Day Eight: Riot! Day Nine: Gunfire Is Boring Day Ten: Bombs Are Boring Day Eleven: Games Kids Play Day Twelve: This Cash Is Broke Day Thirteen: Warlording 101 Day Fourteen: Arresting All the Wrong People Day Fifteen: U.S. Playing Both Sides Somalia pics Sounds of the Somali aid crisis Mogadishu’s wheeled battlecruisers Somalia’s mystery weapons A.U. Patrols Moga Sounds of African Peacekeeping No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong> [...]

  4. [...] Related: Day One: “You Come to Africa, But You May Never Leave.” Day Two: Barnstorming! Day Three: Enclaves Day Four: Everybody Parley Down! Day Five: “I Quit!” Day Six: ”We’re Here and We’re Surviving.” Day Seven: Wise Old Children Day Eight: Riot! Day Nine: Gunfire Is Boring Day Ten: Bombs Are Boring Day Eleven: Games Kids Play Day Twelve: This Cash Is Broke Day Thirteen: Warlording 101 Day Fourteen: Arresting All the Wrong People Day Fifteen: U.S. Playing Both Sides Day Sixteen: Back on the Air Somalia pics Sounds of the Somali aid crisis Mogadishu’s wheeled battlecruisers Somalia’s mystery weapons A.U. Patrols Moga Sounds of African Peacekeeping No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong> [...]

  5. [...] Related Day One: “You Come to Africa, But You May Never Leave.” Day Two: Barnstorming! Day Three: Enclaves Day Four: Everybody Parley Down! Day Five: “I Quit!” Day Six: ”We’re Here and We’re Surviving.” Day Seven: Wise Old Children Day Eight: Riot! Day Nine: Gunfire Is Boring Day Ten: Bombs Are Boring Day Eleven: Games Kids Play Day Twelve: This Cash Is Broke Day Thirteen: Warlording 101 Day Fourteen: Arresting All the Wrong People Somalia pics 1 Comment so far Leave a comment [...]

  6. James says:

    the truth is that every one will think different

  7. [...] The A.U. troops are low-tech, by American standards. But compared to Al Shabab, they’re freakin’ Stormtroopers. “We have the arsenal,” Capt. Paddy Ankunda told me during my visit to Somalia, two years ago. He gestured to the A.U.’s machine-gun nests, its mine-protected trucks, and the handful of T-55 tanks stationed at the palace and the seaport. I asked him if the tanks were truly useful, considering the A.U.’s already overwhelming firepower. “We have them so that people know we could use them,” Ankunda explained. But it wasn’t until this week, that the A.U. needed to use them. “Our troops were in an imminent danger, so we had to take some limited action,” A.U. spokesman Bahoku Barigye said. “That does not mean we are fully involved in the combat.” But rolling out the tanks, previously held in reserve, is a major escalation for the A.U. Combined with the U.S. arms shipment, the armor deployment proves that Washington and the A.U. are serious about protecting the new Somali government. Of course, the Bush Administration was serious, too. But its idea of helping the government was to sponsor an Ethiopian invasion — and subsequent two-year occupation — that only emboldened Al Shabab. [...]

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