Thursday, January 11, 2007
This could be because, as a Times journalist wrote yesterday: "The good news came in June. That is when the courts routed the warlords who had turned Somalia into the world’s most anarchic state during a 15-year civil war that left a million dead ... The Islamists have now been replaced — with Washington’s connivance — by a weak, fragile Government that was created long before the courts won power, that includes the very warlords they defeated and relies for survival on Somalia’s worst enemy." Or as The Washington Post’s Stephanie McCrummen explained: “In a way, people here said, Mogadishu was liberated by the Islamic Courts movement, which managed to rid the city of the militias and roadblocks that had functioned like a hundred Berlin Walls. Movement was so restricted that some residents had not seen friends and relatives in years, and children living only minutes from the crashing Indian Ocean had never laid eyes on the turquoise water.”
Or indeed as Richard Dowden writes today: "The rise of the Union of Islamic Courts was the result of America's previous attempt to get the alleged al-Qa'ida operatives responsible for the embassy bombings. Early last year the CIA paid local warlords to get them. This united Somalis as nothing else has for decades. In their fury at American support for the hated warlords, they rose and drove out the warlords. After years of bloodshed and oppression at the hands of warring politicians, religion unsurprisingly provided the unifying bonds of solidarity, values and a common cause. For a while, southern Somalia had something it had not enjoyed for decades: security. The Courts were a popular uprising, the first viable movement to cut across clan rivalry and unite Somalis since 1991."
The UN, with its distinguished record in Haiti, the former Yugoslavia, the Congo and Sudan, has announced that it will send troops to Somalia in order to support the 'transitional government' that it helped foist on the country. They do not refer to an Ethiopian occupation on the grounds that those troops were invited by the 'transitional government', and so in effect UN troops will be going to augment Zenawi's army until they can persuade them that the 'international community' has it sewn up. It will take a while to subdue the population, if indeed they can subdue it. There are still fights going on in the south of the country, and an American team of 'advisers' is helping the Somali and Ethiopian fighters wage their campaigns. Because the target of these operations has a substantial community of popular support, the war that has already taken so many lives will probably degenerate very quickly into a war on civilians, potentially genocidal in scale. The deliberate bombing of Somali villagers, with contemptuous excuses offered, is a warning of what may come.