Good Company

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Somalia: One reporter's take

An interview with Craig Timberg, WaPo reporter, found here:
FP: How has life in Mogadishu changed since the Islamic Courts came to power?

CT: There are fewer guns on the street. Every once in a while, you see armed gunmen. But that’s quite rare. And that’s a big change from the past when guns were everywhere. Shops and restaurants are now able to stay open after dark because people aren’t afraid to go out. Ordinary street crime has declined markedly.

On the other hand, some men have been forced to cut their hair, women feel pressured to veil themselves, and cinemas have been closed. Broadcasts of the World Cup were banned. It’s safer, but it much less freewheeling.

FP: Is there any support for an American or international force to step in and prevent the Islamic militia from taking full control of the country?

CT: I can’t imagine a scenario where the United States sends troops back to Somalia. When I was in Mogadishu recently, I clearly sensed a popular frustration with the United States for having backed lawless warlords. They used to shoot people and rape girls with impunity. They drove around the capital in fancy trucks and flaunted their wealth. For the Americans to have associated with and supported these guys . . . it made Somalis angry and frustrated with the U.S. government. But in the rallies at the mosques in Mogadishu, they’re not burning American flags; they’re burning Ethiopian flags. That’s where the real, powerful public anger is directed.

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