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Somalia's Collapse Into Jihadism

ISSUE 241
Front Page
Index
Headlines

The JNA Exposed As A TFG Ploy

Nine Injured In Mogadishu Grenade Attack

Djibouti Defense Minister In Eritrea To Discuss Somalia

ANALYSIS-Shift On Somalia May Make Peace Harder

Somaliland Women Challenge Islamic Roles

The 2006 Washington DC Somaliland Convention

Somalia Govt Willing To Offer Islamic Rivals Cabinet Posts

I'm Prepared To Talk Peace, Says Leader Of Somalia's Sharia Courts

Regional Affairs

Somali Lawmakers Meet Rival Islamists

No Trade, Transport 'During Prayers'

Somalis Face Anti-Immigrant Attacks In S. Africa

World Donors Urge Power-Sharing Deal For Somalia

Rwandan President Paul Kagame To Visit Rusi In London To Deliver The First Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture On African Security And Development

Editorial
Special Report

International News

The Pentagon Plans For An African Command

Rival Regimes Cloud Somalia's Future

Arab Press Says Jews Perpetrated 9/11 Attacks

Air Power: An Enduring Illusion

Kennedy And Coleman Call For Action On Banking Regulations Effect On Somali Community

Proposal Of Somali Custom Keyboard

Postcard From Dubai

FEATURES & COMMENTARY

Editorial: Sleeping With A Devil In Islamic Clothing

SECOND TAKE - The Guardian

Postglobal: Somalia's Islamic Courts

Somalian Women's Courage Goes Unrewarded

New U.S. Lie: “Islamo-Fascism”

TRIPLE CROSS: Nat Geo Channel's Whitewash Of The Ali Mohamed Story

Food for thought

Opinions

Somalia's Collapse Into Jihadism

The Prevention Of Recap Genocide

What Is The Role Of The Somali Diaspora?

Open Letter to: Speaker of Somaliland House of Representatives

Somaliland: It Is Time For Action Before It Is Too Late

Deficiency In The Samatars’ Response To ICG Report


By Alykhan Velshi

This week brought yet more troubling news about the Islamist takeover of Somalia. The Union of Islamic Courts, which currently controls the capital of Mogadishu, has adopted a policy of confrontation towards all NGOs and civil society groups.

"[T]he Islamists' head for the social affairs Sheik Fanah also pointed out that NGOs under any name could not hold any meeting or a news conference without the Islamists' knowledge."

This is disastrous for Mogadishu, which is extremely poor and relies on outside assistance to meet its basic needs. As I wrote about during my recent visit to Mogadishu, "Store shelves are completely empty except for Coca Cola products (Somalis need their Fanta Orange!). There are no decent or even half-decent restaurants, there being no tourists or expat workers. All there is to eat, if you're lucky enough to find it, is rice with a splash of watery tomato sauce, which tastes even more foul than it sounds. The streets are empty. There are no big markets." Remember, too, that warlord-induced famines are not new to Somalia.

Somalia also occupies a crucial position in East Africa. It is surrounded by countries most of whose governments are led by Christians or secular-minded leaders. Yet many of these countries have large Muslim populations that are in the process of being radicalized. At the same time, Somalia has access to crucial shipping ports, making it easy for it to serve as a haven for illicit weapons smuggling, as well as being able to hold its landlocked neighbors hostage.

As I explained in June in an article in the Somaliland Times, unless the United States is prepared to support the breakaway statelet of Somaliland - which is democratic and non-sectarian - the situation in Somalia will continue to deteriorate in an anti-American direction. Somaliland can provide the United States with reliable intelligence on developments in Mogadishu, as well as a foothold into the country and is, perhaps, the most poignant manifestation of what the Bush Doctrine was designed to encourage - the spread of liberal democracy to guarantee America's basic security needs.

If pursuing an explicitly pro-Somaliland position is too heady for the Bush administration, then its best hope, at this point, is supporting Ethiopia's efforts in the country, which are largely positive. Ethiopia is working to stabilize and support the democratically-elected transitional government based in Baidoa, as well as guarantee its access to ports in North-East Somalia (also known as Puntland).

The situation in Somalia has not reached crisis stage, nor will it, probably, for years to come - but we don't need to search too far into U.S. history to find examples of failed states taken over by Islamist militants who then conspired to harm the United States. Unless someone explains why we should expect Somalia to be an exception to the rule, ignoring its descent into jihadism is an utterly reckless solution.

Alykhan Velshi is a foreign policy analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a counter-terrorism policy institute based in Washington, DC.


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