Thursday, July 9, 2009

Somalia: A Hash for Nearly Twenty Years

Last week’s Economist provides what amounts to the requisite periodic update on the never-improving state of Somalia. The article’s second paragraph contains about all you need to know, to understand the utter failure of U.S. and Western policy in the Horn of Africa.

The Economist notes without irony that the current leader of the Transitional Federal Government (UN-backed, powerless), Sharif Ahmed, is a moderate Islamist who three years ago headed the Islamic Courts Union. This is ironic, of course, because it was Ethiopian and American firepower that drove out Ahmed’s ICU, and it is Ethiopian and American firepower that protects Ahmed’s TFG. Ironic also because the ICU, which brought a measure of stability to Somalia, was ousted in large measure because of America’s overriding fear of the word Islamista; now the US-backed TFG (and Mr. Ahmed) faces, in the Shabab, a truly barbaric group of Islamists with actual ties to Al Qaeda.

At bottom, though, are the Somali people who have been without governance or peace for nearly twenty years. It is awful to consider that the best hope for stability the Somalis have had in twenty years was snuffed out by the most typically American poor policy choice: short-term solutions, based on superficial understanding, with no regard for consequences or blowback.

The Economist’s periodic update ends on a similarly sour note:

[Muhammad Hassey] finally left Mogadishu when his two brothers and two sisters
were killed by a mortar shell. Kadijo Hassan, an elderly lady, interrupts.
“Mogadishu is unbelievable,” she says. “It is war. Everyone is crying there.”

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