Puntland, Somalia Clash south of Galkayo; Iran’s Hand

Fighting breaks out in Puntland; Iran supplies weapons and other support to the Islamic Courts

Islamic Court Militia cheers during the handing over of weapons by the rivall militia in Mogadishu, Thursday, July 13, 2006. (AP Photo / Mohamed Sheikh Nor.) Click image to view.

The Islamic Courts Union and forces from the semi autonomous Somali state of Puntland have battled yet again just south of the city Galkayo. The Puntland government claims to have beaten back the ICU, which initiated the fight. “Our forces drove Islamic militants back to their barracks and retook positions,” said Abdirahman Bangax, Puntland’s Minister of Information. Protests against the Islamic Courts have broken out in the Puntland city of Garowe.

The ICU claims to have defeated the Puntland forces and taken territory. “We have seized villages like Bandiradley, Sadah-hagle, Dagaari and Halaal which 20 km away from Galkayo”, according to Agoweyne, a spokesman for the Islamic Courts. Agoweyne claims to have “captured 22 militiamen, 5 vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft guns and two tanks.”

Late last week, the spokesman of the semi-autonomous state of Galmugug, which is just south of Galkayo, requested Puntland withdrawal its forces from the region. Another Islamic Court was set up the the Puntland region of Las Anod, the second time this year.

In Baidoa, where the final showdown between the Islamic Courts and the Transitional Federal Government is being played out, the TFG has suffered further losses without a shot fired. “Thirty government troops with five battlewagons mounted with anti-aircraft guns” defected to nearby Islamic Courts fighters. The two forces are now said to be squaring off between Baidoa and Burhakaba, about 20 miles west of Baidoa.

While the Islamic Courts probes the situation in Puntland and waits to strike in Baidoa, the United Nations issued a report “on violations to a widely flouted 1992 arms embargo on Somalia.” Reuters summarizes the report. Iran and Hezbollah, Shiite Muslims, are supporting the Sunni, al Qaeda affiliate known as the Islamic Courts.

Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea, Djibouti and Saudi Arabia are giving support to the Islamists, the report says. The Islamists also have links with militant Muslim groups including Hezbollah, the report says… Iran has provided at least 250 anti-aircraft missiles to the Islamists, the report says.

The UN report also notes there are “Roughly 1,000 foreign jihadists with combat experience or volunteers with training in bomb-making and assassination.”

An American intelligence source informs us Iran has provided the ICU with sophisticated anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons. Iran is believed to have shipped SA-7 Strella and SA-18 Igla MANPADS – shoulder fired surface-to-air missiles – as well as AT-3 Sagger antitank missiles. Hezbollah employed the Saggers effectively against the armor of the Israeli Defense Force in southern Lebanon during the Israel-Hezbollah war last summer. The influx of such weaponry in well trained hands would spell trouble for Ethiopian Army and Air Forces expected to join the battle against the Islamic Courts.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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10 Comments

  • C-Low says:

    I read this and can’t help but wonder – in the early days when Hitler was retooling his armies, flaunting previous treaties and sanctions, openly meddling in support of possibly allies and infiltration damage of enemies from Italy-Spain-Chek-Autria-ect…,the rhetoric openly threating and telling all who will listen what they plan, like some evil geneous must brag to the good guy before he kills him, – I gotta wonder was the West at that time so stupid they saw all of the things we today read in history and wonder WTF was wrong with them Or LIKE US TODAY is the tell tale signs of the coming storm known only by those who bother to look for them and those lucky enough to know those people. I hope at least this time when we make the same damm mistake again that when history is written they don’t blame the people like WW2 but blame a absolute lack of LEADERSHIP and strongly blame the MEDIA. Laci Peterson is barley rememberable even today but for generatia children will learn news like you have written above trying to analyze WTF was wrong with them WHY.
    Amazing and I actually was hopeful immediatley after 9-11 that the blissfull ignorance had finally shatter but sadly I am starting to believe now that the giant just merely reflex swatted and the pain to actually awaken the giant will have to be on a level I don’t think we have seen or imagined. Sad a war that could be won today with maybe some couple hundred thousand losses combined including enemy civilian US together will be kicked to tommorow and our children will pay by the hundreds of millions.

  • serurier says:

    Bill , coalition fighting in Africa , Sudan attacking Chad and Central African Republic , Eritrea and Somalia Islam have a plan attack Ethiopia , WWIII is coming .

  • Nicholas says:

    Given that this is no less than gregarious state sponsorship of terrorism and insurrection, I simply can’t fathom why the US and Somali governments don’t come to an agreement, and some B2s flatten every terrorist training camp and militia base in the country.
    Surely that would be in just about everybody’s best interests. It would be low risk, and would take a lot of these people out of the picture before they start exporting their violence.
    Granted it’s not a solution to the problem but surely it’s better than doing nothing. A concerted bombing campaign should, if nothing else, be a big drain on the supporters like Iran.

  • serurier says:

    Nicholas , only Media will blame us .

  • Nicholas says:

    The media will blame you either way. If you don’t do it, they’ll complain that you’re “not serious about fighting terrorism”, etc. And down the track when Africa goes down the tubes they’ll say “why didn’t you do anything to stop it?”
    Of course if you DO do something about it, they’ll paint it in as negative manner as possible, talk about how many “children” and “civilians” were killed, etc. etc.
    But if you’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t, you might as well just ignore the media and do what you think is best. If you think the moral thing to do is kill a bunch of these people, because if you don’t they will only go on to cause more wars, more misery and more terrorism – then do it and live with the consequences.
    OK, so I’m not a politician. Politicians survive by controlling their image. But I honestly think despite what the media says, many voters are worried about terrorism and do want something done about it. Especially if the military and white house can have press releases ready explaining exactly what they did and why, to short circuit the media negativity, it could be a good move both politically and in terms of security. Plus it could help prevent the situation in Africa getting worse than it already is, which is pretty bad.
    Preventing genocide and terrorism is more important than political image, in my opinion.

  • Michael says:

    “Start U.S. Iraq withdrawal in 4-6 months: Democrats” Levine, Biden… via Al Reuters link feed Bill posted on the left.
    Sure, let all bloody hell break loose. They’re pulling another Vietnam. Self-serving, self-absorbed, dhimmiwits.
    I am very angry. Where are our leaders today? The republicans got arrogant, scandals, etc., and now the democrats are being weasels instead of leaders. I am not aware that all democrats ran on an anti-war ticket, did they?
    We have made committments to millions of Iraq people! We can’t just throw them to the lions like we did the Vietamese! The world will never trust us again if we do this.
    Our media played Tokyo Rose… and the masses bought it. This is disgusting….
    Bill, without politics. I’m curious what you, the rank and file think of this. And the current military leaders. To me, this is morally bankrupt.
    Sometimes democracy stinks. It makes us look weak to the Islamic fanatics. As they rampage across Africa from Somalia to Kenya and Nigeria. And from Thailand to the Phillipines, plus all the Stans… They are fighting everywhere with weapons of war and media, religion and politics.
    And our leaders are all Chamberlains with the exception of those booted out now and our President. God Bless Leiberman, but can he be enough to stop this nonsense? Are there really enough blue-dog democrats to stop this?
    I’ve never been that much involved in politics precisely because it is so slimey. But this exhibition of weakness of leadership has got to be stopped.
    We’re approaching WWIII and half the nation seems to be stuck on 60s reruns.

  • Jon Feiser says:

    I am curious about the degree and level of credibility that Iran is sending SA-18s to support the Islamic Court entities in Africa. Trust me I understand the subject matter as well as the open source reporting, but for the life of me why would Iran be so bent on supporting that region while supplying the same fire power to rouge JAM elements in East Baghdad and Southern Iraq?

  • Anand says:

    Everyone,
    Is it possible that a third party is paying for these arms and Iranian defence contractors are just selling them? Iran has many competing power structures and a lot of corruption.
    If irrefutable proof that some powerful Iranian factions are backing Takfiri Somali Islamic Courts were made public, it would severely discredit those Iranian factions. Their rivals would use this evidence to tear them apart.

  • snowflake says:

    I am skeptical of the SA-18 reports. This is Iran’s top of the line MANPADS (according to wikipedia). If they are seriously worried about us taking military action, I would expect them to be deploying SA-18 and Misagh-2s near their nuclear sites, and putting SA-16s and Misagh-1s into Iraq to hit our A/C behind the front. The Stinger are old, but if serviceable might be equal to the SA-16s. Sell the SA-7s to the Somalis and provide some trainers (God knows the Strela is a bitch to hit anything with). The SA-7 would likely have a significant impact against a third world air force without the survivability gear we have. Of course, I’m just speculating.
    Bill, keep up the good work reporting on this little acknowledged front in the GWOT.
    Regards,
    Snowflake

  • Eddy says:

    Dear all,
    As an expert on East African affairs, I can tell you that this is cheap propoganda to demonize the Islamic courts which have restored hope to the Somali people. This neglected poor Somalis have been suffering under civil war and choas for too long. The so-called courts have restored order in just few months.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis