Islamists March on Mogadishu

Greater trouble nears in Somalia…

Islamist militias in Somalia on Thursday continued their steady and surprisingly uncontested march toward the capital, Mogadishu, capturing a small town on the outskirts of the city.

I would describe this as a pincer movement — Islamist militants from the interior, pirates from the coast — but Somalia is naturally far more complicated than that. The connection between the Islamists and the pirates is only loose at best, as are even the ties binding the various rebel groups. Furthermore, as the difficulties faced by Somalia’s unstable, Ethiopian-backed “transitional” government suggest, controlling Mogadishu is anything but tantamount to running the country. And while some residents in the paths of the Shabab militants have fled, others are evidently pleased at their arrival.

And what are those pirates up to these days? Still plundering, unfortunately — but probably a bit more warily, now that the British Royal Navy has made its famed presence felt.

UPDATE: Michael Kleinman says: “One of the main issues is that the Islamists – and in particular the Shabab – now control much of the coast, putting them in a position to disrupt WFP, ICRC and NGO food shipments through the port at Marka.”