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Morass In Somalia Deepens

ISSUE 258
Front Page
Index
Headlines

CARE Hargeysa To Be Probed For Allegedly Harming The National Economy

Berbera Port Invests $640,000 In New Equipment

After The Ethiopian Victory, What’s Next For Somalia?

Canadian MP Urges Support For Somaliland

Islamists Lose … For Now

US Urges Inclusive Dialogue On Somalia’s Future

Somalia: Widespread Displacement As Fighting Intensifies

Somalia's PM Promises Peace, Stability

Somali And Ally Troops Get Mixed Welcome In Capital

Regional Affairs

Graduation Of First Somaliland Doctors

3 Million Muslims Begin Annual Hajj

Editorial
Special Report

International News

US Backs Ethiopian Intervention In Somalia

The Ethiopia-Somalia Conflict

Interview - The UIC Has No Reason To Fight Ethiopia Because They Have No Axe To Grind With It

Plea For Somaliland

Why Ethiopia Is Winning In Somalia

The Legitimate Government Of Somalia

This War In Africa Should Not Be Taking Place

FEATURES & COMMENTARY

This 'Victory' Could Mean A Return To Anarchy

In Somalia, An African Hawk Rises

Time for dhikr and music

The Impact Of Conflict On UK Somalis

U.S. editorial excerpts

We Can't Afford To Ignore Africa Anymore

Food for thought

Opinions

Addicted To Big Government And Bankrupt Of Imagination

Somaliland's Victory In The Recent Battles Of Somalia...

A War of Miscalculation

Somalia: Rain Drops

The Opposition-mania: Is It Rhetory Or Reality?

Is Somaliland A Democratic State

Cursory Look At Southern Somali Politics And How It Pits Against SL Independence

Is KULMIYE Hutuing Out Of Desperation?

Will the new Ethiomalian Empire stop the never-ending Somali exodus?


Morass in Somalia Deepens

Somali government troops in a training camp northwest of Baidoa, Somalia. (AP/Jerome Delay)

Prepared by: Stephanie Hanson December 27, 2006

For the past sixteen years, Somalia has been widely acknowledged—and ignored—as a failed state. Now, as a regional war appears imminent, the world is finally paying attention to the Horn of Africa. Somalia is a “feral nation,” (LAT) writes former CIA Case Officer Garrett Jones; the “ hot new front in the war on terrorism,” according to the Washington Post. Observers warn the battle between Somalia’s Islamic Courts and Ethiopian troops threatens to pull in neighboring countries and Muslim extremists. Ethiopia’s superior military, which enjoys the tacit support of Washington, has forced the Islamists to withdraw from their front line positions, but this setback looks unlikely to last. Others anticipate these radicals will reemerge and wage guerrilla war (LAT), not unlike what the United States faces in Iraq.

Though publicly it has pushed for the Islamists to return to the negotiating table, the United States has signaled it backs Ethiopia’s offensive in Somalia (NYT). Since gaining control of Mogadishu in May, the Islamic Courts have consolidated power through much of Somalia. Washington fears the country could emerge as a terrorist haven for Islamists with al-Qaeda ties (Reuters).

This fear dictates U.S. policy and undermines efforts to deescalate the crisis, writes Somalia expert Matt Bryden. Earlier this year, the United States supported Somali warlords calling themselves an “anti-terror” coalition, a policy widely criticized for facilitating the rise of the Islamic Courts. Most recently, a U.S.-backed Security Council Resolution, passed at the beginning of December, called for a regional peacekeeping force to protect the transitional government. The resolution was meant to avert war, but instead precipitated it.

Now, the policy options for the United States look bleak. After the ill-fated 1993 U.S. intervention in Somalia—documented in the book and film Black Hawk Down— Washington is loath to take military action, even in the service of nation building. “None of the options for serious nation building in xenophobic, tribal Somalia are politically, financially or morally palatable,” says a Los Angeles Times editorial.

Many experts think that collaborating with other countries in the region to broker peace talks between the Islamists and the transitional government holds the only possibility for stabilizing Somalia. Bryden writes in Kenya’s The Nation, “A lasting peace can only be achieved at the negotiating table, and there is no point in waiting until the guns fall silent to begin preparing.”

Yet multilateralism holds its own drawbacks. A U.S. initiative to support peace in Somalia, the International Somalia Contact Group, has been crippled by the exclusion of key parties such as Kenya, the Arab League, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional body. Rifts between the United States and Europe on how to address the problem have also hindered efforts toward peace talks (Times of London). European diplomats support engaging with the Islamists leaders, a move the United States opposes. And some countries are more interested in fanning the flames of conflict than quelling them: Ethiopia and Eritrea seek to use Somalia as a proxy battleground, writes Terrence Lyons in a Council Special Report.

Other U.S. options on the table include strengthening the arms embargo against Somalia, freezing the assets of all Somali-owned and operated businesses, and pushing for the withdrawal of all foreign forces. But ultimately, stability in Somalia can only be achieved by Somalis (PDF), according to congressional testimony by the Congressional Research Service’s Ted Dagne. The breakaway region of Somaliland seems to support this notion. After declaring independence in 1991, Somaliland—which remains unrecognized internationally—has achieved stability and economic growth with virtually no external help. Some, including Loyola University’s Peter J. Schraeger, argue that the United States should recognize Somaliland’s independence as a “shining example” of how Islam and democracy “are not mutually exclusive, but rather mutually reinforcing.”

Source: The Council on Foreign Relations


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