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Somalia sliding back to anarchy


By Jibril Adan

If you want to know the way ahead ask those on the way back, the Chinese say. This saying serves well as guidance on the possible future for Somalia.

A few months ago the country appeared to be working itself out of the endless violence that has lasted for 16 years. In a split moment it has taken a plunge back into its past.

Hospitals in Mogadishu are overflowing with people injured in fights between Ethiopian soldiers and forces loyal to the ousted Islamic Courts Union.

When an international high profile meeting was held in Nairobi last month there was hope that a stabilization force would be deployed soon by the African Union.

The hope then was that the AU would take over from the Ethiopians and restore order.

But the situation has since changed after the US bombed villages in Somalia.

Dangerous peace mission

The Inter-Governmental Agency for Development (IGAD) which was to marshal the 8000 soldiers recommend by the United Nations already has egg on its face – after the US air strikes -and the whole plan may just become a cropper.

No country is willing to send its soldiers into harms way.

Some African countries like Nigeria may also be out of the question given the experience they had in Somalia during the failed UN intervention in the 90’s.

Only Uganda has offered 1000 soldiers and that was a promise it made before the current situation arose.

The US has just made a difficult situation more complicated by showing its overt involvement in the current military conflict.

US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, had told the meeting in Nairobi that her country would not interfere militarily but hardly a week after she left Nairobi the bombs fell on Somalia.

If the US government can send its Under Secretary here to tell the region that its forces would stay out and it turns out to be a lie, how can Africa trust its soldiers in Somalia with the possibility that the US may spoil it for them.

Another Afghanistan

You look at Somalia now and you will see Afghanistan five years ago.

The US was supposed to have won the war against the Taliban five years ago but the war is not yet over.

Nato is talking of many more years before any sense of normality is restored.

The Taliban –as strong as ever – are giving the Nato force there a rough time.

Hamid Karzai’s government is yet to make its presence felt even with all the military support from Nato.

A return to peace is still as distant as it has ever been in Somalia. Compare it with the situation in Afghanistan and you will see the similarity.

Even if the AU sends troops, there will be no surety that the US would not spoil their chances of success by dropping bombs and flattening entire villages just to kill one person alleged to have terror links.

All hopes were tied to the deployment of the AU force but the prospect of that happening have now become dim.

The tensions in the country went up when the overt American involvement became evident.

The little goodwill that Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf would have built for himself withered when he claimed that he was happy with the US strikes, which are reported to have killed innocent villagers and their livestock.

Entire villages have been flattened and many killed by American bombs ostensibly to kill a few suspects allegedly linked to the Al Qaeda network, who again mysteriously escaped.

At the weekend, heavily armed men attacked the presidential palace in Mogadishu where the leader of the transitional government is staying.

A lone gunman fired at an Ethiopian military convoy passing near a market and the troops fired at the people in the market killing four and injuring seven.

An Ethiopian tank crushed a pickup car packed near the market and flattened it.

This is a sign of what to expect in a country whose people may only be having memories of what others call peace.

And this time, if a quick solution will not be found to pacify the country, the conflict will be worse than the nation has ever witnessed.

The simple reason is that those who were born during the conflict and who have never known law and order would be fighting this time and one can only imagine what it would translate into.

That is an issue Abdullahi Yusuf and Prime Minister Ali Gedi do not want to care about as they point fingers at others and call them terrorists.

Abullahi could do to Somalia what Adnan Bachachi did to Iraq.

Bachachi was a dissident who had been telling the world that Saddam had developed weapons of mass destruction.

The US used his information as evidence that Saddam should be stopped.

Nothing came out of the claims; Iraq is no more and Bachachi fell out with his ally.

In Somalia, there is a danger that the Government may actually be dragging their nation down the drain rather than out of destruction.

The closest the country came to peace was when the Islamic Courts Union threw out the warlords – who also doubled up as government ministers – from the capital and pacified large parts of the country.

If only dialogue was given a chance then the scene would be different today.

The bigger portion of the blame for the failure in exploiting negotiations to bring together the ICU and the Transitional Government lies with the president and the prime minister.

They had all along known of the Ethiopian plan to intervene on their side and did not want to give a chance to the people they called “Jihadists” a chance to bring to the table what good plans they had for the country.

It is instructive to note that the ICU had achieved in a few weeks what the Transitional Government had failed to achieve in two years; restore order.

They routed the warlords who held the country at ransom for the last two decades.

But their plan was snuffed with the swift deployment of forces from Ethiopia with Abdullahi Yusuf and Prime Minister Ali Gedi pointing and shouting “Jihadist” at every one who opposes them.

Now the country is under martial law and it would be hard to justify that as a recipe for peace rather than for more conflict.

For a country that has been without a government for two decades, martial law would make no difference because that is what they have been living under all along.

Kenya’s dilemma

The scene is muddled when one looks at how the two neighbors –Kenya and Ethiopia – are involved in the conflict.

Ethiopia had its own selfish strategic reasons to send tens of thousands of troops to bolster Yusuf’s government.

And Kenya appears to be playing in a game it has not planned for and may not event know what it will gain at the end.

Obviously looking at the kind of approach Kenya has taken one would be tempted to think that it must have made a deal with the US, which is making the game plans.

A few weeks before the Ethiopian invasion of the country, Kenya was talking to the ICU, with its leader, Sheikh Shariff visiting Nairobi the month preceding the deployment of the troops.

Now all has changed and the ICU is being treated like they have committed crimes that they should be punished for without getting their rights.

At the weekend Kenya deported 30 people suspected to have been sympathizers of the ICU back to the Mogadishu.

How the deportation was conducted begs more questions than can be answered by Kenyan officials.

Why were this people not taken to a court so that they are subjected to the due process of law before being handed to a foreign force that could do anything to them.

One of them, a Canadian of Somali origin, actually had a court order stopping the Government from deporting him to Somalia.

His pleas to be deported to Canada were ignored and he was taken to Somalia.

Reports also said that the 30 people were blindfolded and handcuffed while on the plane to Somalia.

Are we going to have another Quantanamo Bay in the region?


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Somali Sports & Cultural Association (SOSCA) Invites You - Black History Month Waraysigii Raisul Wasaraha jamhuuriyadda Somalia Prof. Cali Maxamed Geedi Profile: Ali Mohamed Ghedi r Waraysi - Shariif Xasan - Gudoomiyaha baarlamaanka Somaliya.
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