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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Somalia: Islamic Court takeover provides some stability

Some people are in favor of the Somali Islamic Court taking over parts of Somalia as noted here:
The stabilisation of Mogadishu after Islamist leaders ousted US-backed warlords has dealt a blow to pirates and given a boost to business in the Horn of Africa nation, a prominent Somali businessman said.
“We never had business like this before,” said Abdulkadir Nur, who manages the strategic El Maan port just north of the Somali capital, as six ships from Dubai unloaded wood, sugar and cooking oil on the beach behind him.
Considered one of the most powerful entrepreneurs in Mogadishu, Nur is a staunch supporter of the Islamic Courts. Earlier this month, in battles that killed at least 350 people, their militia ended a 15-year rule of the capital by warlords.
“Before, there was theft of trucks, kidnappings, but since the Islamic Courts have taken over, there has been no trouble,” said Nur, who chairs the Benadir Maritime and Port Operation which runs El Maan, Somalia’s largest port.
“Now Mogadishu is 90% safe. Look at the price of munitions - down. That’s good for peace, and so for business.”
Support for the Islamic Courts’ militia from local businesses tired of being extorted by warlords was considered a critical factor in their defeat.
“I am happy with the outcome of the war. Our people are 100% happy,” Nur, who has a variety of business interests, added in an interview late on Friday on the shore at El Maan.
As well as increased trade, another tangible gain from the extra security since the Islamists took over was a reduction in piracy, Nur and colleagues said.
In the absence of government since the toppling of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, local pirates had turned the waters off Somalia into some of the most dangerous in the world.
Now Nur’s colleague said the pirates are afraid.
“They heard that we have an army and that the courts have become active,” said Ahmed Moallim, a director of El Maan port.
“Before, we had two or even three attacks a day. Now, you see, the ships are coming in more safely,” he added, saying a new anti-pirate militia had been set up with more than 100 boats to patrol Somali territorial waters.
I note that Mussolini and other dictators gained power at times of chaos and tumult in their countries. Sometimes they even contributed to increasing the chaos and tumult.

More reports of improving life in Somalia here:
The thugs manning the roadblocks are gone. The warlords are on the run. And the guns in a city long regarded as among the world's most heavily armed have fallen silent. Most, in fact, have disappeared from view.

Since Islamic militias took control of this city last week, U.S. and other Western officials have worried that Mogadishu's new leaders would impose a severe, Taliban-style government and harbor terrorists. But after 15 years of deadly chaos, residents expressed nothing short of jubilation that somebody has made their city safe, and that for now, the daily crackle of gunfire is finally gone.

"Our ears are resting now," said Diiriye Jimcaale, 45, who has been unemployed since the onset of inter-clan warfare forced him to close his small clothing shop in 1991. "Now we hear nothing."

Anxiety remains, both about the militias' ability to maintain order and about the possibility that extremist elements within the movement will go too far in imposing Islamic rule.
Leaders of the Islamic militias have said repeatedly that they intend to negotiate with the government so that it could eventually move into Mogadishu and reunite the country. They also have said they will disarm their own militia, turn over any terrorists and not resort to extremist Islam.

"The only thing we would concentrate on is to bring peace and stability to this region," said Abdulkadir Ali Omar, the second-in-command of the Islamic militia.

Within Mogadishu, the militias already have largely succeeded in their stated goal, though the toll remains high from the long years of violence.

Moderates among the supporters of the Islamic militias acknowledge a rising extremism within the country. More women than before cover their faces rather than just their hair. Strict Islamic justice is popular. City leaders warn that without massive and rapid rebuilding, anti-Western forces such as al-Qaida are certain to grow in their appeal.
Several placards, handwritten in English, captured the mixture of political feelings coursing through Mogadishu.

"America Open Your Ears And Eyes," one read. Another read, with broken syntax, "Democracy Go To The Hell."
He may get his wish...

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