Friday, December 5, 2008

Does Anyone Care about the Somali Disaster?

With the Ethiopian army that intervened in Somalia two years ago to help the U.S.-supported group push out of power Islamic activists now possibly about to pull out, it is not clear where this leaves big oil or Washington opponents of Islamist governance. The limited progress toward a compromise that would bring Islamists and non-religious political groups into a coalition regime offers some hope of a breakthrough that could serve as a model for similar political disputes in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. But, no surprise, opposition to compromise continues, and details about the sensitive agreement in principle to address the issue of holding politicians responsible for atrocities are yet to be settled.

Ironically, though not surprisingly, according to BBC,

Ethiopian intervention, backed by the US and others, seems to have bolstered precisely the elements of the UIC, al-Shabab, that are most at odds with Ethiopia's interests and may very well have fatally undermined any chance Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) had of gaining legitimacy.

Violence, as usual, has undermined moderates and empowered extremists. Whether or not this is to be deplored of course depends on one’s viewpoint. Somali chaos has, for example, been a godsend for Westerners looking for somewhere to dump their industrial poisons, not to mention for those who want an excuse to establish a military presence.

Lots of effort is being put into Western involvement in Somalia, but little evidence of a sincere desire to resolve the issue is apparent. The degree to which the West wants a solution, and the degree to which the West is in control of events are both very much open to question at the moment.

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