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The Somali Blogosphere
Confused by events in Somalia? We certainly were, so we checked out the website of Somalia's leading blogger, Bashir Goth, and then gave him a call. The bottom line, says Goth, is that the Islamic coalition (known as the Islamic Courts Union) that has taken control of Mogadishu from the warlords isn't all bad. They have brought order to a lawless city and even outspoken anti-Islamists like Goth are holding their fire for the moment.
Bashir Goth was the first Somali blogger and is now at the forefront of a growing Somali blogosphere that often challenges Western opinion. To get a sense of this Somali view, I collaborated with my colleague Tom Isherwood to check out Somali cyberspace. While foreign press largely condemned the rise of the ICU labeling them a new Taliban, these Somalis see some potential.
For 15 years, warring militias have ravaged Mogadishu, making it perhaps the poorest and most dangerous city on earth. At "isbaaro" checkpoints lining the roadways, rival clan militias routinely robbed and murdered civilians. Around 1999, local Shariah courts arose to protect neighborhoods and, as columnist Abi Egal argues, many of them succeeded.
Now the ICU has done what no Somali leader or internationally-brokered government has been able to: It unified the city under one authority and pacified Mogadishu. Though the ascension of radical Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys last week may be a setback, his more "moderate" colleague Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (see his interview with Goth) has shown initial readiness to talk to U.S. officials and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia.
As Goth says, if the ICU decides to work with the TFG and if international pressures can push aside the more radical clerics (without funding "Anti-terror" warlords), a fragile peace is possible.
By Amar Bakshi | June 28, 2006; 10:41 AM ET
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It is quite a remarkable achievement that the Islamic Courts in Somalia have realized. After 15 years of anarchy, failed foreign interventions, and mass starvation used as a battle tactic, it is easy to understand why the Somali people find value in the ICU takeover.
But now what do we do? The US support of the now-ousted warlords was a weak and botched measure of resistance to fundamentalist Islam, but there was a good reason to try it. Somalia is now poised to rise as a solid Islamic state. It very well could become another breeding ground for terror as Afghanistan was under the Taleban. The US, I don’t think, could really consider attacking an organization which is bringing stability to a war-ravaged nation. But neither can it allow another fundamentalist state to rise. To win the War on Terror, that militant, fundamentalist portion of Islam needs to be wiped out. Whether the West has the will to do that will decide which civilization controls the world's natural resources for the next century. The Horn of Africa is strategically important. Viewed as part of the mid-east theater, it would leave an open flank against our assets oriented on Iraq.
So now what do we do?
Posted by: Avid Protagonist | June 28, 2006 12:43 PM
Thanks for this important story and the related discussion.
I agree with Bashir Goth, a nuanced and very realistic approach is required towards the Islamic Courts Union (ICU).
Engaging and working with the ICU is the better approach. Primarily, dismissing them is not going to help the region nor the US. With engagement, we note Islamists in Jordan, Iran, Egypt etc have moderated their earlier positions once they have to govern and deal with realities.
As for the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the international position to support the TFG, has been overtaken by ground realities. The TFG is now very isolated and a sort of internally displaced entity in the town of Baidoa.
Will the world and international community deal with the realities or try to force Somalis to accept the TFG? People are not going to try to ride a dead horse!
And, have we forgotten, once again of the stable and peaceful Somaliland, north-west of Somalia? They require all our support to nurture and consolidate its emerging democracy.
Posted by: Mahomed Dawood | June 29, 2006 01:27 AM
Thank you Mahomed,
I am very interested in the TFG's feasibility and would love to have Bashir Goth join this comment thread.
I am also curious what you think ought to be done with Ethiopia's involvement in the region?
Posted by: Amar Bakshi | June 29, 2006 05:14 AM
After weeks of pitched battles, Mogadishu, the pearl of the Indian Ocean, has fallen to the hands of Islamists led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.
Exactly, a Taliban-style takeover is taking place in Mogadishu. The Taliban never fought big battles. They managed to secure their rival's support through secret deals which often involved transaction of large amounts of money. The Taliban, led by Mullah Mohamed Omar, emerged as the strongest faction in lawless Afghan, after capturing Kabul in 1996. While they created some stability after nearly two decades of conflict, they immediately applied a tough interpretation of Islamic Sharia Law and unleashed vicious punitive measures against anyone who disagreed with their primitive regime. That is exactly what the Islamists are doing in Mogadishu, this time.
The question now is whether the momentum of the Islamists will ebb after the flight of the warlords from the Capital?
To my reading, this is just the beginning of the Islamists takeover of Somalia and the beginning of the end of the Baidabo-based fledgling Transitional Federal Government. Hassan Dahir Aways, Somalia's Mullah Mohamed Omer, is currently touring central Somalia rallying and recruiting more manpower support for the already formidable forces of the Islamists in Mogadishu. Despite belatedly disowning - at the eleventh hour - the four warlords-turned-ministers who lost Mogadishu to the Islamists, Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi has called upon the defeated and retreating militias of the warlords to join his government in Baidabo. Gedi's last-minute attempt to sway the support of the most detested Mogadishu's marauding militias is a mere indicative of the sense of disillusionment and uncertainties besetting in the volatile environment of the beleaguered "City of Death" (Baidabo).
Recently, the central regions of Hiran, Galgaduud and south Mudug have declared their support to the Islamists. Already, the Islamists control the Lower Shabeelle region and enjoy the tacit support of much of the Jubbalands in the south. For many years, the Islamists dominated the business community in Somaliland. Islamists were busily recruiting and funding certain elements there to create instability and forestall the prospect of Somaliland attaining international recognition. Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys's brother-in-law, a reclusive spiritual leader of Al Ittihad, is based in Burao, Somaliland.
In the recent fierce fighting for the domination of war-torn Mogadishu, the Islamist proved successful, to some degree, in voluntarily drawing men and materiel supports from all corners of the Somali inhabited Horn of Africa territories, including Somali region of Ethiopia, North-eastern Kenya, and self-administering Somaliland and Puntland entities.
What next? Would the Islamists declare the formation of an Islamist government in Mogadishu without taking over Baidabo and dislodging the incompetent and toothless Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Abdillahi Yusuf? Would the Islamists make an effort to drive a wedge between the TFG politicos with the view of beguiling the majority of the migratory member parliamentarians to join the rank and file of the victorious Islamist regime? How would the U.S. administration react to the formation of a Taliban-like Islamic government in Somalia? Would an Islamist government serve as a decisive unifying factor of the Somalis or would it intensify the unilateralist and unconstructive involvement of the U.S. in the Somali problem and the incoherent, intrusive and prying policies of Somalia's neighbors?
As developments in Mogadishu unfold, these are some of the pertinent questions that need to be analytically discussed and critically assessed in the coming days.
Subsequent to the demise of Mohamed Siyad Barre's government, Somalia plunged into a protracted anarchy and fragmentation. The vacuum left by the government was quickly filled by a rapidly growing Islamic radicalism. The agenda of the Somali Islamists is the establishment of a viable Islamic State in Somalia along the lines of the Taliban of Afghanistan. The Islamists espouse an unbridled irredentism strategy and intend to unify the Somali inhabited territories in the Horn of Africa.
Furthermore, the Islamists enjoy a widespread popularity among the Somali communities both inside Somalia and abroad. On the whole, they draw considerable support from Somalis in Ethiopia and Kenya and have the potential to influence developments in both countries. The Islamists intend to form an Islamist government and impose strict Islamic rule in Somalia. Such a regime could have serious repercussions on Muslim communities in Ethiopia and Kenya.
The Islamists have the potential to destabilize the town of Baidabo, the current seat of the fledgling Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and to dislodge the TFG from that volatile region. Such a prospect would further diminish the possible evolution of an alternative secular force capable to counterbalance the Islamists.
Posted by: Abdi | June 29, 2006 11:22 AM
There is no doubt that the Somali people in the South would welcome any authority that brings peace and a sense of normalcy to their lives. Fifteen years of lawlessness and mayhem have had their toll on people and made them desperately willing to accept the lesser of the two evils, this time the Islamic Courts against the warlords. The analogy between the Mogadishu Islamic Courts and the Taliban is not farfetched; not only do the two groups adhere to a common radical Islam but the realities on the ground seem to be identical as well. Mogadishu before the Courts take over was a spitting image of Kabul before the emergence of the Taliban; two cities divided into fiefdoms by brutal warlords who thrived on coercing the poor people and taking heavy commissions from international aid, the lifeline of millions of Somalis.
Reaching this level of hopelessness and loss of any sense of living, it is understandable why the people of Mogadishu should rejoice at the arrival of the Islamic Courts and consider them as saviors. The fact that the courts have brought a semblance of justice and peace by removing checkpoints and allowing transport to flow more freely is a telling story of the change that has taken place. No wonder that the transportation fees have nose dived and business is buoyant about the new situation. Reports suggest that transshipment business from Dubai, where a large number of Somali businessmen live, is already on the rise, signaling a booming time ahead for Mogadishu's retail business.
The Islamic Courts have also made the right move by accepting to talk to the Transitional Federal Government, which enjoys international legitimacy despite it weakness and incompetence.
This is the immediate assessment of the short term but what about the long term? What is the future agenda of the Islamic Courts for Somalia?
It is true that a patient who accepts any treatment at the height of his sickness will discard the nasty tasting medicines once he regains his health, the Somali people would soon realize the ugly side of the Islamist rule. The curbing of civil liberties such as banning the World Cup, closing cinemas, applying strict Wahhabist and Salafist brand of Islam on the generally freedom loving Somali people, will soon make people loathe their new rulers.
It is obvious that the Islamic Courts have already rescinded on the accord they made with the TFG government in Khartoum by establishing a Shoura or Islamic legislative Council and an executive council or cabinet. The latest reports show that the councils have been enlarged to 76 and 15 respectively. This is a clear indication that the Islamic Courts want to carry on with their agenda of making their own government and imposing Sharia rules.
By electing Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aways, a former military colonel, a militant Islamist who doesn't hide his intention to see Islamic rule spread not only to Somalia and beyond, and a man on Washington's wanted list, is a clear indication of the Islamic Courts unreadiness for any reconciliation or consideration for international concerns. It is obvious that their accord with the TFG government was only to buy time to consolidate their power in Mogadishu and lay the foundations for the Islamic state they intend to establish. It is just a matter of time before the Islamic Courts storm Baidoa, the seat of the TFG government. This will open the way for them to march into the autonomous and relatively peaceful region of Puntland.
The Islamists' next target would then be Somaliland, the former British colony that declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991 and has since built an exemplary homegrown democratic state with all necessary and elected government institutions. There are already reports about the dormant cells of Islamists being vocal and festive in the eastern regions of Somaliland.
It is obvious that with the Islamists at the helm, Somalia heads for an apocalyptic situation. The international community has but limited choices to stop the onslaught of the Islamic Courts. The first and most achievable step should be to engage Somaliland, an independent state with it own secular government and army, which also has close relations with Ethiopia. Providing much needed military and economic assistance to Somaliland would definitely weaken the hand of Islamists who are daily increasing their grip on Somaliland's economy.
Helping Somaliland will also dampen the Islamic Courts ambitions and would make them more receptive to listen to the international community. The recent meeting of US Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazier with Somaliland's Foreign Minister Edna Ismail and the visit of the British Ambassador in Addis Ababa to Somaliland are welcome steps in the right direction. The African summit due to be held in Gambia, where Somaliland President will be an observer for the first time, could also show leadership by pushing for the AU's engagement with Somaliland as the International Crisis Group advised in their latest report on Somaliland.
The second step should be to empower the beleaguered TFG government with funds, ammunition, intensive military training and strong diplomatic presence. Washington should also encourage Arab countries, particularly the Gulf States, who could have a good leverage with the Islamists in Mogadishu, to tame new Islamic Rulers who wouldn't exist without the financial help and moral support they get from Arab Islamic organizations.
The idea of sending foreign peacekeeping forces, particularly from neighboring Ethiopia, would be counterproductive and would play into the agenda of the Islamists. Apart from its historical enmity with Somalia, many Somalis saw Ethiopia's support for the various warlords as a self-serving agenda aimed at perpetuating the chaos situation in Somalia. Bringing Ethiopian troops to Somalia will be a wish come true for the Islamic Courts. They will play the Islamic card and declare a Jihad, hence attracting all the Islamist in the region to seek martyrdom in the streets of Mogadishu. Somalia will then be turned into another Iraq where proxy wars will be fought. Sheikh Aways has already called upon Ethiopia to abandon the Somali Ogaden region, where Somali rebels with Islamic agenda are fighting the Ethiopian government.
The only pragmatic advise for the international community at this point in time is to forget about foreign peace keeping forces and engage Somaliland and the TFG as separate entities. This is the only way that the growing influence of the Islamists could be checked.
Posted by: Bashir Goth | June 29, 2006 04:07 PM
I cautiously welcomed the rise of ICU and the violent ouster of the shallow, hated and criminal warlords. Many people hailed their ignominious and cowardly ejection from Mogadishu. But the ICU should have to consolidate their power in Mogadishu, they would have to keep sustaining the semblance of order, they have brought back to Mogadishu, a commodity in short supply here for so long. My doubts have been affirmed after their rush to grap more land, amatuerish political statements, lack of coherent and unified leadership. The ICU completely eclipsed the Embagathi Government and as far as I am concerned, the rise of ICU was the beginning of the end of the unpopular TFG. I think the ICU lacks the wherewithal, finesse and the temperament to govern the city of Mogadishu, unless a miracle comes from no where. The unruly behavior exhibited by some of their colleagues, intransigent ideas, lack of modesty and high speed is the early signs of their coming failure. The absence of diversity in their rank and file and leadership also is a very discouraging proposition. Clearly many of the indigenous residents of Mogadishu are not present among the ICU leadership. Some people are already wondering If the ICU is for real, or another gimmick in the land became so familiar in gimmick after gimmick.
Though they already overstretched themselves, raffled few feathers, created few enemies already, they may have a chance If they do the following:
(1) Call for a Somaliland-style comprehensive reconciliation conference for all the people of Mogadishu and their environs, because the people of this city need a sustained grand, holistic rehabilitation and reconciliation, forgiving and forgetting effort.
(2) Form a cohesive and unified and pragmatic leadership who are well-versed in political affairs.
(3) Choose a single spokes person who can articulate their policies.
(4) Refrain from the radical ideologues among their ranks.
Posted by: soleimon egeh | June 30, 2006 08:55 PM
Therefore where the future of the people lie?? how an stable and nationalistic government can be established if at all? is it possible to bring together all the keyplayers on the table to agree for the interest of their people? who can put an action plan for the Somali situation at the moment? is the future of Somalia depend upon the AU countries, westerns, Islamic states or within the Somalia Communities?
Somali elders in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somaliland as well as Somali diaspora, Businessmen and intellectuals should prepare a nation congress for the Somali southerns with the participation of all players inside Somalia, Put all the difference apart and form a new functioning Government possible after 3 months of conference under the trees somewhere in the middle of Somalia.
Posted by: A.A.Mohamed | July 1, 2006 04:42 AM
It should not surprise any one if the people of Southern Somalia (former Italia Somalia) celebrate the sudden fall of Mogadishu to ICU who succeeded in ending fifteen years of lawlessness and mayhem.
It should also never surprise anyone if those who did that whoever they may be are welcome with bouquet of flowers, street dances, praise and fanfare.
And it should not surprise anyone if Somalis see the hopeless foreign brokered so-called Transitional Federal Government as a useless body born in foreign lands that lacks any credibility because it comprises of a bunch of pseudo leaders and merciless Warlords who are the cause of the problem not the solution.
But my word of advice is that anyone who knows Somalis should know one thing:
That Somalis have always had their own brand of home grown Islamic faith which was and is compatible with and coexisted well with the nation's culture and anything else concerning their faith that is imported and hence imposed on them will definitely fail albeit of initial silence.
Despite that, it is truly worrisome that the West in general and America in particular may be contemplating to take drastic action and thus again committing a grave mistake, intentionally or unintentionally and hence exacerbate the situation beyond repair specially since Somalis in general and those in Mogadishu in particular have vivid painful memories of the consequences of Operation Restore Hope.
In my view, four points are therefore worthy of noting:
1. That the international community carefully but selectively engages moderate ICU higher committee members and smartly but silently sideline all hardliners.
2. That the Transitional Federal Government in Baidoa be made to realize that it lacks any credibility throughout the country and hence must negotiate with moderate ICU members and together they should start confidence building with shared goal and responsibility to achieve a lasting peace and establish good governance for the nation.... Power sharing.
3. That the international community engages Somaliland as a separate entity by supporting it, financially, militarily and diplomatically because Italian Somalis have a lot to learn from their brethrens' time tested homegrown peace and stability. And doing that will certainly heavily contribute toward stabilizing the situation of the Horn of Africa as a whole and help discourage possible local hard-line sympathizers of the ICU in Mogadishu or those elsewhere in the area.
4. And fourthly and finally, the last thing to see should be to send Western or AU forces and never from Ethiopia at all because of historical reasons, and hence automatically annul whatever is established in Mogadishu to date. Doing that will attract hopeless desperate Jihadists many of who may be already in the Horn or are willing to support die-hard Islamists of the ICU leadership.....this will bring disaster to the Horn and for heavens sake please do not bring more disaster to the Horn of Africa.. it has already had more than of its share of suffering!!!!!!!
Posted by: Noah Arrre | July 1, 2006 10:38 AM
The reality have not been seen throughout the roughly the period that International community were trying to recititate the dead [Somalia] and the 16 years that Somalia is killing themselves. The so called TFG are the source of the Somalia problem and the International Communities blindly put up effort to empower those who created all the mess. These people TFG and their head Mr. Abdillahi Yussuf are the people who kill and maimed the entire Somalia population, but still the world is going along with. Somalia will not be able to achieve piece if they did not see how, we Somalilanders did it. They have to start from the grassroot and make use of it. Somaliland peace is now solid, because the people were involved and the elders were honest.
The achievements that Somaliland has done, is peacon of hope in Africa as whole. All the trouble places in Africa must do the same. It's the "Best Kept Secret" story in Africa.
ICU is the answer for the Darood/Hawiye power struggle if they are honest about what they are saying in public, because the whole problem of Somalia is now based on the issue of power struggle between the above two Clans. Islam at the present world is impossible to the heal the current problems of Somalia, because there are people who will subvert the process, but they should introduce Islam which does not preach Wahaabism. Most of the ICU leaders have drunk from that of the Wahaabism and the average people of Somalia do not understand that.
I conclude, that the International Community should understand that Somaliland can contribute in peace making process in Somalia, if they get their viable right of becoming a member of the United Nations - i.e Un-reserved and immediate "Recognition".
Omer Hussein Dualeh
Posted by: | July 2, 2006 12:27 AM
The Agony of Somalia
After the downfall of the regime of Dictator Siyad Barre in January 1991, Somalia quickly plummeted into anarchy and disintegration. The disintegration was like a volcanic heat that had been building up for long time, edging everyday to the point of eruption. And when it erupted finally, like any volcanic blast, it turned out highly explosive, shattering the superficial facade of government and shaking the very fabric of the society.
In May 1991, the northwestern region of Somalia unilaterally seceded from the rest of the country and declared itself as the Republic of Somaliland. Subsequently, in 1998, the north-eastern region formed its own regional government and proclaimed itself as the Puntland State of Somalia. Unstable and fragmented, central and southern Somalia became the nucleus of a ruthless turbulent storm. Turmoil, factional fighting and anarchy reigned supreme in most of the southern Somalia since.
Southern Somalia has become a breeding ground for fundamentalist Islamic groups promoting extremism and intolerance. A number of extremist groups, having links with international terrorist groups, have taken shelter in southern Somalia, taking advantage of the prevailing anarchy and void in governance. Mogadishu became a conduit for drugs, guns, crime, Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism that can undermine the stability of an already volatile Horn of Africa region.
Enter the Somali Taliban
This week, Somali Islamist radicals who hold sway of much of southern Somalia have claimed nationwide command of the beleaguered Horn of Africa country. Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the leader of Somali Islamist's executive council, made the claim of authority of the entire Somalia on Thursday, as he unveiled a major restructuring of the Somali Taliban regime. As anticipated, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the architect of the burgeoning Somali Islamist resurgence, was handed over the reins of power, and Shura, a grand Islamist consultative council was formed along the lines of the Afghan Taliban regime. Aweys is on the US terrorist watch list and is believed to have strong connections with Osama Bin Laden's terrorist organization, al-Qaeda.
In his latest audio message, Bin Laden, the terror network's leader, has avowed that "we will keep our fight to bleed your money dry, kill your men and so that (your forces) go home defeated, as we defeated you in Somalia". In his comments aired on an Islamist website on Friday, addressing US President George W. Bush, Bin Laden stated that "we will continue our fight against you everywhere, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, In Somalia and in Sudan". On several occasions in the past, Bin Laden has claimed the credit for the "Black Hawk Down" and the subsequent US pullout from Somalia in 1993.
The terrorist attacks against U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in and the hotel in Mombassa and the failed attempt to bring down an Israeli passenger jet with two surface-to-air missiles are widely believed to have been orchestrated from southern Somalia.
It is just the beginning. As expected, the Islamists are on their unstoppable march. They now control the entire central Somalia, including the capital. A growing fear and speculation has been at fever pitch in Puntland for weeks now. An ominous storm is gathering on the horizon. The Islamists in Puntland are expected to stand up in support of the emerging Islamic power in the south. If that happens, the tide will certainly sweep the entire swathe of land between the port city of Bosaso and Loya Adde, Somaliland's border post with Djibouti.
Somaliland, the oasis of stability in the Horn of Africa, will wait for the Islamists stabilization of the south. But, surely will fall ultimately, if the blowing tide of the Islamists continuous unabated. The Somali region of Ethiopia will then face the music of the emboldened Islamists. The current developments in Somalia are reminiscent of the Taliban's takeover of Kabul in 1996.
The Islamists next encounter will critically determine the course of history. At this point, the Islamists primary destination is essentially a soft target - Baidabo, the seat of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Both the Puntland and Baidabo are ripe for Islamists takeover. There are already sufficient Islamist forces in both areas that are capable of rocking the fledgling administrations.
Undeniably it is good news for the Somalis that the international community and the countries surrounding Somalia are just beginning to realize how things are getting bad in Somalia. If the international community, and particularly the Americans, fail to mount credible deterrent force and fell short of arming the forces of both the Somaliland administration and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, the entire Horn region will certainly be consumed by the flames of the firebrand Islamists. But any attempt to stem the mushrooming Islamist menace should be coordinated among the countries interested in Somalia. Ethiopia, for one, should understand that any unilateral intervention by its military will further strengthen the hands of the Islamist and would turn southern Somalia into a battlefield between Eritrea and the Arabs on one side and Christian-dominated Ethiopia on the other.
Somalis, regardless of their political persuasions, maintain well-founded doubts on Ethiopia's on-off military incursions into Somalia. To be credible, Ethiopia's military forays need to be backed up with sustained policy initiatives towards lasting positive solutions on protracted Somali crisis and should be tailored to allay Somali's genuine misgivings on its motives. Ethiopia also needs to win the hearts and minds of its own Somalis in the Somali region of Ethiopia, to substantiate its "sincerity" towards the Somalis on both sides of the border.
Living in the past
Whether in Afghanistan or in Somalia, barricaded against the modern world by means of a self-imposed quarantine, the Islamists are living in the past preserving an out-dated mode of life at the high risk of isolation and stagnation. Untouched and untainted by the 'decadent' Western civilization or the myths of the exotic Orient, they are living in hermetically sealed chamber where criticism, political or ethical debate, healthy mockery, or even music and images are forbidden. Where sports of all types, including the World cup, are regarded immoral; where male chauvinism is all that matters and women are virtually held captive within four walls or within stifling garment.
They view the world with spectacles of self-righteousness and bigotry, shielding against "outlandish values" of rationality, liberalism, secular humanism and encroachment of scientific inventions and forays of unveiled fashions. Their aim is to bring the world back to what it was a thousand and five hundred years ago. They want to reverse the wheels of history and roll back the calendar to the year ZERO. And thus, they intend to see that men are equal in submissiveness and paucity.
Theirs is the coming of a new era, which has already begun but not accomplished. Theirs is the duly constituted authority of the illiterate masses. It neither requires legal legitimation nor ceremonial inauguration. They intended to conquer the world with the sword and liberate men from the dehumanizing powers - the so-called civilization racked by "intrigue and decay". Regardless of whether you are a cynic or skeptic or insensitive or doubtful of what this is all about, the Islamist revolution is proceeding with accelerated pace and pivotal battles are yet to come!
The seeds of the movement of the back-to-the-past, borne by the backward-looking conservative Islamic clerics have taken root, and begun to bear fruits in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Arab Gulf States, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and many other unlikely places. Perhaps, this is an epitome of the upcoming struggle of the backward-looking conservatives against the fast-moving, forward-looking culture, which, according to the opponents of change, "cripple and corrupt the ethics and morality of men".
With Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys at the helm of Somalia's most powerful Islamist outfit, Somalia is now at the center of the unfolding "conflict of Civilizations" and a dreamland for world Islamists eyeing for safe haven. Indeed, good news for Osama Bin Laden.
Posted by: Abdi | July 2, 2006 07:29 AM
Thanks for given us the chance to express our views and thoughts on this issue. As alot of people will ask themselves there is a question of are we living in the past or living current and the reality of the day to day Somali political situations ?
Since the United States withdrew its armed forces from Somalia in 1994 the country has struggled to stabilize their government but that was the legacy of the unwelcome forces to the country which cause a major problem to the already suffered people, ICU has brings the hope long waited by the southern Somalis, I believe the seeds of this movement the public struggle should not be neglected and campaign against them with out any other solution to the problems or without proof of things accused to the Islamic courts which they denied, otherwise things will escalate and tensions between certain groups such as powerless government supported by Ethiopia and America which is known their leader Wide-ranging levels of human rights abuses.
I believe the United States has a vital security interest in helping Somalia succeed and we will proof as Somaliland proofed that we are modern Muslims as a whole and ICU will be one of us moderate Muslims.
I will ask the international community if we interested democracy and rule of law why you are genuine why do not you support Somaliland people?
Both side of the country will see the actions of the west Somaliland which democratic and the ICU, we well see which one America will give the support is needed.
Posted by: Axmed Ali | July 2, 2006 04:45 PM
As a Somali who have long been confused with America's call for freedom and democracy to be spread around the world on the one hand and America's refusal to support the Horn of Africa’s only democracy(Republic of Somaliland) on the other, I can only hope that this time America gets it right.
The solution to the mess over there is for the US to fully support the only real democracy in the region which is: The Republic of Somaliland (a former British protectorate).
Somalia(former Italian colony) has been given more than four billion dollars in foreign aid, yet warfare continues to rage across most of that area.
Now contrast Somalia and its 4 billion dollars in aid with the Republic of Somaliland which has received cero dollars from USA and EU and yet have managed to hold free and fair local, state and presidential elections. What is wrong with this picture? Something sure is wrong when warlords and religious fanatics receive billions in aid while the regions only democracy is given the cold shoulder by the United States and the West, and then the people of America ask "why do Muslims hate us" ? I don't think Muslims hate you but they sure do think you are hypocrites. Actions speak louder than words, Bush actions have been going against his words in the Somali peninsular.
American people are good people, I know this from experience, but it is time it showed in their policies. Star supporting the democratic forces of the Horn of Africa, The Republic of Somaliland is in danger from various anti-democratic forces in the Horn of Africa, this is the time for the United States to show that it cares about Somalis and democracy. Do the right thing and feel good about it!
Here is a link to a map of Somaliland:
Posted by: Ahmed Farah | July 2, 2006 05:33 PM
There are three main problems in Somalia as regards the international community:
1. Government without mandate
What some in the International community refer to as "the Somalia government" to be supported exists in fantasy but not in reality. This group and its leader (a former warlord) don't control a single city inside the country. So any calls for support to this entity is a recipe for failure.
This group is seen in most Somalis eyes as being a vehicle for the "presidents" clan: the Majerteen to gain power over other bigger clans. Somalis are having a hard time understanding how the International community can be so easily fooled by this group to actually believe it is a government. any attempts to impose the authority of this "government" faction on Somalis will fail dramatically fail at that.
2. The ICU
This group while not having International recognition like the "government" faction, it does have the real support of a majority of the people in Somalia(former Italian colony). The evidence for this is the ease with which they got rid of the warlords backed by the CIA.
So we have a bizarre situation in Somalia where the group which has the mandate by the people to govern is not accepted as a government, while the group which has no mandate by the people to govern and which controls no territory is being accorded recognition by the international community(read the WEST). Bizarre indeed.
3. The Republic of Somaliland Issue
Somaliland while not officially recognized is a de-facto country, it has a military, a flag, its own currency, its own democratically elected parliament, its own democratically elected president and all the attributes of a sovereign country.
Yet, the irony of world politics being what it is, The Republic of Somaliland even though it is the regions only democracy as a previous blogg poster said is not being given aid or any other form of support by the EU and United States because it does not make the headlines as it is peaceful.
In other words a country can get support and help from the west when it starts wars and make the headlines, this is a bad signal the west is sending by its actions in Somalia and Somaliland.
I think the USA needs to show it genuinely believes in helping democracies by supporting Somaliland, this will send the right message to all political actors in the Horn of Africa.
note. I can be reched at:
Posted by: American Somali | July 2, 2006 06:59 PM
Islam has never been a solution to Clan Problem. The fight of Ali Binu Abi Talib ( The Fourth Kalifeyt) and Mucaayie Binu Sufyaan was based on Clan. Islam failed to solve that Clan Problem that later created Sunni and Shite Sects of Islam. Somalis in general has a Clan problem. What is happening in Mogadishu is Hawiye problem dressed in Islamic Courts. It does not concern all Somalis. It is A Hawiye Issue with an Ayr leadership. What nobody dared to mention is the involvement of the Islamic Courts of the killing of the foreign aid workers in Somaliland. Among those charged in absentism in Somaliland is Adan Hashi Ayro an ex body Guard of Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and current chair of Ifka Halan Court ( The Core Court Leadership). Having said all that I hope they solve the Mogadishu problem
Posted by: Mohamed Ahmed | July 2, 2006 09:25 PM
There is a tendency to rush to solutions for creating a government that can bring law and order to Somalia with out asking how it got to this stage.
Somalia got to this stage because of too many outside interference with large sums of money and agenda's and bringing troops will just add fuel to the fire.
No one ever asked or involved the local elders and they were swept aside as the young men with guns, businessmen and aging politicians fought over the spoils and the millions pouring in from the do gooders like the UN and other governments.
The TFG has no power base and will squander the millions that will be spent in panic by the outsiders to stop the Islamic courts in the next months.
The best logical and difficult solution would be to create five states of Southwest(Baidoa), Jubaland(Kismayo), Middleland, Puntland and Somaliland. Since the two Puntland and Somaliland already exist the only effort would be creating the Jubaland and Southwestland and would involve the local communities. The community of the Middleland state would have to decide if it wants the Islamic courts as it's representative or not.
This process would limit foreign money and army and would force every community to decide if it wants to participate and the unrealistic goal of breaking the power and grip of the Islamic courts through foreign troops or trying to make the TFG a power it will never achieve could be avoided.
Involving the local community has been done in Somaliland and Puntland and achieved results as outsiders with money and agend's are limited and identified by the community. Strengthening the local community is the best step forward as the cycle of manufactured governments outside Somalia has proven(See the progress and difficulties Somaliland faced in reaching consensus in 15 years of slogging in the shadows without outside interference)
Posted by: Abdi | July 3, 2006 03:00 AM
Somalia is a failed state, the world needs to let it sort itself out without outside interference. Outside interference will make things worse not better.
While Somalia takes time to sort itself out the world needs to support the democratic Republic of Somaliland economically and help it with its democratization process.
Posted by: Ali | July 3, 2006 05:07 AM
I am from the city of Bosasso in Somalia but I think the best thing the world can do is to give Somaliland official international recognition.
Once Somaliland has been given official international recognition as an independent state they should put all their efforts into helping us in Somalia to solve our political problems. No other country has the knowledge about Somalia and its political affairs like Somaliland does.
The political factions in Somalia do not trust non-Somalis who interfere in their affairs, therefore is best if our brothers in Somaliland(after they get international recognition) come and mediate between Somalia's different factions.
I see no other option because we in Somalia have had 16 years to solve our problems and different conferences were held in foreign capitals, they all failed and Somalia is still chaotic.
Posted by: Kenadiid | July 3, 2006 06:09 AM
Uncertainly change in Mogadishu was overdue and was needed right after collapse of Former Regime in 1991.
In history Somalia came from voluntary unification of South (Italian Colony) and North (British Colony). Northern (now Somaliland)distanced themselves from conflict in the south and concentrated peace, stability, good governance, set up democratic institutions, conduct fine, fair and successful presidential, local and legislative elections based on mutual consensuses, consultation and cooperation among themselves with no international mediation. Thanks the Guurtis (house of elders) who brought all parts of the society together and kept them talking over six months in Borama town West of Somaliland until is achieved what the conference is intended for.
Backing to succession of Union of Islamic Courts in Mogadishu (UIC) would definitely bring peace and stability to Mogadishu streets, help minority, disencouarge warlords to resurface. Warlords are dangerous and good for nobody except for themselves and their militia who terrorized people of Mogadishu over 15 years on murder, kidnap, rape and other ferocious activities including collection of illegal taxes from locals, robbing and killing of poor and unarmed clans and other minorities.
IUC would neither act like Taliban and nor be threat to other countries in the region, but will concentrate peace and wellbeing of Mogadishu people general.
Somalis work in clan based system and the majority of UIC are from Hawiye, it is unlikely to indocterate other major clans reciding Somalia. They can not force out as well as they know that may create more Somalis against them and bring more wars to the region.
Foreign intervention to Somalia will bring grave consequences to both invaders and Somalis and only keeping army embargo against Somalia will be the best solution to contain any threat from IUC. Somali Transitional government in weak and not because clan based and lead by former warlord, it is also comprising of only criminal warlords who accostomed to terrorist their follow Somalis in who Somalia. These warlord ministries will not be welcome any where in Somali speaking world.
Solution to Somali problems would be achieved if the foreigners stayed away from Somalia and mutual exchange is achieved among Somalis like Somalilanders did.
Posted by: Mohamud | July 3, 2006 09:14 AM
To me, as many concerned Somalis would agree, the issue of the sudden capturing of Mogadishu by the militia called "Islamic Courts Union" is unfortunately blown out of proportion in the reality of Somalia. Surprisingly, many Somali intellectuals have fallen into the trap that Somalia is Mogadishu and whatever takes place in this misfortunate city is a Somalia matter. It is not.
The Somali people of Somalia, wherever they might be and including myself, are suffering day and night for more than 15 years now for the absence of a decent government like the Palestinians. Nothing has changed at all.
Allow me to refresh your minds. What is happening in Mogadishu is not about Somalia, it is just a new episode of the popular film "the war against terrorism"!!! Here is the scenario: (please think of Iraq from Saddam's era as you read)
This episodes starts with Mogadishu which has been destroyed and hijacked for more than 15 years by few Hawiye clan warlords who cared nothing but killing, raping, robbing their poor Hawiye clan. Everything was fine with them until one day they went a little too far when they convinced the "terror-obsessed" American actor of the "war against terrorism" film to give them few million Dollars in order to capture a bunch of notorious suspected "terrorists" whose existence among the Hawiye population is similar to that of the "Weapons of Mass Destruction's" existence in Iraq. To the disadvantage of the film's actor, the despised warlords quickly failed and their brotherly Hawiye militia ousted them. Then all of a sudden as in Iraq, Somalia becomes the news headlines everywhere, without of course leaving out the good old name of Bin Laden. Remember, he is the co-star of the film. So as soon as the actor, Bush, voiced the word Somalia his co-star must also appear and respond the word differently. That is what's happening!
Unfortunately, different Somali "intellectuals" from different parts of Somalia, instead of enlightening the world with the real plight of the Somali people as a whole, seem to have got an opportunity to spread their selfish and hidden agendas of their respective clans. Secessionist of the north west Somalia and the Puntland supporters are throwing their twisted short-sighted agendas all over here as you can read from this thread. BUT the World should know that BEHIND ALL THESE THE POOR SOMALI PEOPLE OF SOMALIA ARE HELPLESSLY SUFFERING DAILY IN THE MIST as you may enjoy the Episode of this unrelated film which is coming one after another!!
Posted by: Omar Haji Farah | July 3, 2006 02:22 PM
There is no question about it: the world should help all Somalis and the world needs to help the suffering masses of Somalis in Somalia, particularly south Somalia, absolutely! I don't think anybody would disagree with that.
The question we are asking ourselves here, however, is: how can the world best help the Somali people?
And from the answers I see here it seems most Somalis think that the best approach at this juncture is for the United States and EU to help the Republic of Somaliland economically and politically in order to strengthen the democratization process there.
Helping the Republic of Somaliland will set a precedent that says: EU and USA helps those that play by the rules, those that democratize and establish peace in their areas of control.
Posted by: Yoonis | July 3, 2006 03:16 PM
Sorry for coming back! but I just forgot to add one thing. And that is, those Somalis with hidden twisted clannish agendas (as evidence by Mr. Yoonis's above "solution"), must realize that the International Community is NOT too dumb to believe and listen to someone shouting for help and saying "Please, keep my brother's bigger house burning and decorate my little dream house as a solution for my brother's problem!!!!". Good Luck for them.
Posted by: Omar Haji Farah | July 3, 2006 05:04 PM
Mr. Omar Haaji Farah you seem to be the hateful one, not Mr. Yoonis. All Yoonis said was: the world should help the country of Somalia with humanitarian aid but not meddle in their political affairs, let the people of Somalia choose their leadership and let them make peace between themselves.
At the same Mr. Yoonis said that the world should support the Republic of Somaliland's democratization process and also support Somaliland economically.
So to summ it up Yoonis said:
1. Republic of Somaliland
International community should give Economic aid and support for the democratization process.
The international community should focus on Humanitarian aid.
Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya, US, EU and so on, all want to meddle in the affairs of Somalia and Somalia let them do that, that is why Somalia is in chaos.
The Republic of Somaliland on the other hand has created a home grown democracy from the grass-roots and up, without foreign intervention, so I suggest, humbly, that anybody who cares for Somalia make sure that they follow in the footsteps of their neighboring country to the west, the Republic of Somaliland.
Posted by: British Somali | July 3, 2006 05:43 PM
If anyone here is truly concerned about Somalia and the plight of its people, look elsewhere this misguided debate, check this place for a starter
Posted by: Omar | July 4, 2006 01:01 PM
Somalia and Sudan
The war in Somalia has dragged on for 16 years now. As a matter of fact, no one try to understand the root of the problem in the Arab world, major TV programmes such as Aljazeera, Arabia, and so and so has not taken into consideration to the Somali problems, they regarded them as a wild animal fighting in the jungle for their survival. To my surprise last week the Sudan president who shares common identity with the Somalis as a whole took a side publicly and contributed the problem of Somalis when he condemned and objected the existence of his brothers from Somaliland in the AU summit.
There is no doubt that the Somali people in the South would welcome Omar Al-Basher's campaign against the Somaliland people , but the Somaliland people are wondering to know the misunderstanding between Somaliland and Sudan were it begins as there were recently attacks and political sabotage from Sudanese leader.
There is an Arab Phrase saying "The family man knows better his family problems than anyone else." Somalia and Somaliland know their misunderstanding and differences than you and Arabs, we speak a language which you do not speak and we have issues to discuss, but it will be good if you became a brother who treats equally to all of us. Your recent diplomacy against Somaliland caused on controversial issues and widens the difference between Somaliland and Somalia.
However as I love Sudan I would like the Sudan media to bring Al Bashir his attention to solve the local problem of his country to solve;
• The civil war in the Sudan
• To release Col. Patrick Zamoi, the Governor of Western Equatorial State (WES), and other political prisoners
• There is a significant risk that the Darfur Peace Agreement will collapse it is his responsibility to save the peace agreement in Dafur.
• To live with peace and harmony with his neighbor of Uganda and stop arming the rebel.
• And to leave Somali alone.
Posted by: Axmed Ali | July 4, 2006 03:02 PM
This is the most serious debate about the Somali inhabited areas of Africa that I have ever seen. Great ideas being put forward here.
I agree with the majority opinion that the Republic of Somaliland should be strengthened both economically and militarily so that it can deal with the growing threat to democracy that we see coming from Somalia.
Posted by: Ali Musa | July 5, 2006 05:55 AM