Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What do we do with Somalia?

One idea here:
John Prendergast of the nonpartisan International Crisis Group (ICG) says US funding of arms purchases by the Somali warlords since 2002 shows the US focused too much on "covert military intervention rather than restoring Somalia's economic and political infrastructure." He calls US involvement in the 1990s "throwing gasoline on the fire."

Meeting the Somali challenge should concentrate on control of the incessant arms traffic. It should consider calling in African Union or UN forces to protect aid to hungry Somalis, and lending political support to the transitional regime to transform it into a unified and strong federal system. This might reduce clan politics and encourage constructive action by neighboring African and Arab states to bring about peaceful change.
Mr. Prendergrast of the ICG seems to live in some alternate universe, in which "peaceful" Somalia was forced into anarchy and would have welcomed US involvement in its political and economic development, instead of a chaotic gaggle of warlords and other criminals who hate the US and would have fought any US intervention unless quelled by armed force. The other suggestion by the author of the piece, "control ... arms traffic" and call in the "African Union or UN" is unaccompanied by any realistic suggestion of how any of those could be made to happen and a complete disregard for the history of the UN in Somalia or the AU.

UPDATE: In the meantime, the battles for Somalia continue to rage as reported here:
Somalia's Islamist militia have taken control of a key road junction south of their Mogadishu stronghold despite last week's ceasefire.
Five people died in the battle for the road that links the capital to the interim government's base in Baidoa.

Meanwhile in Islamist-controlled Jowhar three men face death by stoning if convicted of rape by an Islamic court.

The charges come a day after the new Islamist leader said he would only back a government based on Islamic law.

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys' Somali Supreme Islamic Courts Council is due to hold talks with the weak interim government next month.

Interim President Abdullahi Yusuf strongly opposes political Islam.

The two groups last week agreed not to fight each other, amid fears of renewed conflict in Somalia, which has not had an effective national government for 15 years.
The article helpfully adds, "Death by stoning is considered the most severe of punishments under Islamic law, handed down to adulterers and rapists."

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