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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ralph Peters on Somalia

Airborne Combat Engineer points the way to SOMALIA & THE FRUITS OF U.S. RETREAT in which Major Peters warns that the unfinished business of Somalia will return to haunt us (which is why I keep posting aboout the place)...
When it comes to strategy and military affairs, folk wisdom is worth a century of scribbling theorists. Your father could have told you how to handle the Mogadishu warlords: "If you start something, son, finish it."

We were close to finishing it. And a cowardly president quit.

Osama bin Laden repeatedly cited the pullout from Somalia as evidence that Americans were weak and wouldn't fight. Our rewards for quitting were the attacks on our troops housed in the Saudi Khobar Towers complex and on our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya - next door to Somalia - followed by the USS Cole bombing.

Somalia was a global sideshow. We walked away. Now it threatens to become a prime refuge for terrorists. And a much tougher nut to crack.
The Engineer has more.

But while we are on the subject, a senior UN envoy warns here that:
Somalia is on the brink of major disaster as conflict spirals out of control in Mogadishu and donors fail to respond to humanitarian emergencies in the lawless nation, a senior UN envoy said Tuesday. The warning came as heavily armed Somali fighters occupied Mogadishu's main hospital, forcing a near shutdown in key services to patients wounded in factional fighting that has rocked the city, witnesses said Tuesday.

"We need a combined approach to the problem of Somalia now," said Dennis McNamara, the UN special adviser on displacement. "It has been one of the black spots that we have collectively ignored for too long and we cannot afford to do that." "If this conflict is not contained quickly, we may well face a new crisis which the world will be reluctant to respond to," he said. "We have a small-scale humanitarian disaster, it will become a big disaster."

In addition to over a million drought victims, Somalia is home to 400,000 displaced people, 250,000 of whom are living in squalid settlements in Mogadishu, wracked by heavy fighting since February.

Access to them is virtually impossible, relief shipments by sea complicated by increasingly brazen pirates off the unpatrolled coast and donors have fallen far short of meeting urgent appeals for assistance, McNamara said.

Meanwhile, Yemen, Jordan and -surprise- Somalia are planning a regional anti-piracy center:
Yemen, Jordan and Somali are talking over instituting a first-ever regional center for fighting piracy and armed attacks on ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
The center, expected to be located in Yemen, will be set up in coordination with the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

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