The AU has received Raven UAVs. These 2 kg (4.4 pound) aircraft are launched by throwing them. A video game-like controller enables the operator to see what's below the UAV for up to 45 minutes per sortie. Replace or recharge the battery, and launch it again. American and other NATO forces have been using Raven in Iraq and Afghanistan for over five years. The AU troops know all about Raven, and had asked for them. This is part of $45 million in military aid the U.S. is providing Uganda and Burundi for their peacekeepers in Somalia.
Outside of Mogadishu, al Shabaab is having increasing problems holding back the Sufi militias of Ahlu Sunna Waljama (ASW). It's gotten to the point where ASW is going from village to village, arresting known al Shabaab supporters. Al Shabaab is also getting more resistance because of attempts to tax farmers and merchants. Al Shabaab is short of cash, and trying to get it from the locals (during the longest drought in decades). This is producing armed resistance. Al Shabaab has also made itself unpopular by arresting and executing those is suspects are spying on them. That could be just about anyone. Kenya now has the largest refugee camp in the world, at Dadaab near the Somali border. Currently, about 10,000 starving and dehydrated Somalis, mostly women and children, enter the camp each week. Current population is over 350,000. In Puntland, a pro-al Shabaab warlord (Mohamed Atom) and his Islamic radical followers continues to battle government troops around the coastal town of Galgala. The Puntland government has been fighting warlord (and arms dealer) Mohamed Atom for years. It's the kind of divisive behavior that has kept southern Somalia in turmoil for decades. Mohamed Atom and his allies have joined forces with al Shabaab to try and take control of Puntland. But so far the Puntland militias have been too powerful. The seizure, last month, of Galgala, was more of a media stunt than anything else. Government troops soon arrived and chased out the Atom forces. But groups of Islamic radical gunmen still roam the area, killing and terrorizing. Puntland has other problems with criminal activity by some clans, as well as the warlords who have taken over several towns as bases for piracy operations. There is also violence next door in Somaliland, where government troops fight clans from Puntland. These disputes are largely over land use. read more