In June 2006, the forces of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) took control of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. During the six-month rule by the ICU, Mogadishu became relatively stable, but efforts to bring peace did not lead to a major breakthrough. On 28 December 2006, Ethiopian troops captured Mogadishu with little resistance from the ICU. The Ethiopian intervention has led to more chaos and instability in Somalia over the past two years. In November 2008, the Ethiopian government announced that its forces would pull out of Somalia by the end of 2008. In June 2008, the Transitional Federal Government and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), a group dominated by members of the ICU, signed an agreement in Djibouti mediated by United Nations special envoy Ahmedou Ould-Abdullah. The next phase of the Somali conflict is likely to occur between the ARS and al-Shabaab, a group determined to expand its influence and control beyond Mogadishu. Meanwhile, Somali pirates have intensified their attacks in the Gulf of Aden, carrying out attacks on more than ninety commercial ships and successfully hijacking more than thirty-five ships in 2008. The pirates have earned more than $50 million in ransom payments and have released a number of the ships and crew members. The United States, Russia, India, and several other countries have deployed warships to tackle piracy in the Horn of Africa region, although the problem still persists.

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