Sunday, March 9, 2008

Somali Update: Continuing Chaos

Yesterday, I described the post-9/11 neo-con foreign policy as having failed across the Islamic world, citing, among other examples of failure, Somalia. Given the absence of news about this sad and victimized country in the U.S. media, perhaps some details would be in order.

The Guardian described the situation in Somalia in February as follows:

As many experts warned, US collusion with Ethiopia a year ago to
send Ethiopian troops into Mogadishu to topple the Islamic Courts regime has backfired as badly as the invasion of Iraq. According to reports from UN and other aid workers in Somalia, almost three-quarters of a million people have fled since the Ethiopians arrived. Far from eliminating the Islamic Courts, the invasion attracted waves of new recruits, motivated by resentment at the presence of foreign troops and not just by jihadi ideology. The Ethiopians installed one of the worst Somali warlords as mayor of Mogadishu, allowing him to turn his militia into the police. Most of the capital's people are from a
different clan.

Resistance has intensified in the past months as the occupation shows no sign of ending, and Islamist insurgents now operate well beyond Mogadishu. Indiscriminate mortaring and machine-gun fire by all sides is said by aid workers to be horrendous, though there are no TV cameras to raise international alarm. Adding to the chaos, insurgent groups are splitting - with the same erosion of discipline and clan rivalry that have divided rebel movements in Darfur. This reduces the chance of holding successful peace talks.

Banditry is on the rise with aid workers increasingly targets, as last month's killing of three staff for Médecins sans Frontières demonstrates. MSF has now withdrawn all its international doctors, leaving hospitals without surgeons.

Meanwhile, Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) still
sits in the town of Baidoa, with no presence in the capital except for a
fortified and symbolic mini-green zone. What little support the TFG had in Mogadishu has disappeared.

In the first few days of March alone, the U.S. launched a missile attack on Somali town; its residents held a protest against the attack; Islamists briefly captured two strategic towns-- Belet Weyne, astride the main supply route for Ethiopian forces, and Hudur, also on the road from Ethiopia; and 15 Ethiopian soldiers were killed in Mogadishu. The destruction of Somalia continues...

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