Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Islamist Offensive in Somalia

Continuing the pattern of recent weeks, Islamist forces staged a series of attacks on villages in Somalia this week, killing soldiers of the official government/Ethiopian forces, destroying tanks, and capturing military vehicles. See this CNN report. According to al Jazeera, "Besides hit-and-run attacks on outlying towns in which they usually attack soldiers, free prisoners and voluntarily withdraw, the fighters launch near-daily attacks on government and Ethiopian forces in the capital." Indeed, this week, they repeatedly attacked government checkpoints in the capital. According to Garowe, "Guerrilla attacks have rocked Mogadishu since early 2007 when the Ethiopian army ousted the capital's Islamic Courts rulers and installed the weak transitional government."

Although both the relatively moderate Islamic Courts Union and the transitional government have both recently indicated willingness to consider compromise, since the Ethiopian intervention, the Islamist forces appear to have fractured. Some of the fighting is now being done under the initiative of more extreme forces, complicating the process of achieving peace, with numerous analogies to events in Iraq.

It is only natural for reformers in Moslem societies to include various shades of Islamic thinking. to the degree that moderate Islamic reform movements are excluded from the political process, more extreme factions will arise. Distinguishing between these movements is critical to resolving the socio-political issues that create instability in Moslem societies just as much as distinguishing between social democrats, socialists, and communists was to understanding post-WWII European politics.

For just a few of the innumerable examples, see:

Since the PLC elections, carried out democratically and transparently, the legitimate Palestinian government has been subjected to boycott, sanction and threats, and the US and EU have done everything in their
power to undermine and destabilize the representatives of the Palestinian people. Sanctioning the occupied has made an economy already stunted by years of Israeli colonization and siege, a disaster-zone. This is not rocket science; it was highlighted from the beginning by charities, NGOs and the few politicians willing to stand out from the consensus.

Moreover, together with Israel, the US has been openly working to arm Fatah for a coup against Hamas, moves that the latter – who had been elected on the basis of their resistance to Israeli occupation and their track record of humanitarian commitment to the people – were not going to sit by and idly watch. This came only after the attempt to
starve the Palestinians into submission appeared not to be working. This context is strangely (or perhaps not so strangely) missing from most mainstream media coverage, despite the basic facts being widely in the public domain.


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