Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Somalia - Yet another Failure in Bush's War on Terror.

It seems that once again, the Bush administration has made the wrong choice in its foreign policy in the name of 'war on terror'.
More than a decade after U.S. troops withdrew from Somalia following a disastrous military intervention, the United States has returned there, secretly supporting secular warlords - some of whome reportedly fought against the U.S. in 1993 (Remember 'Black Hawk Down' about the attack against two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters that left 18 Army Rangers dead?).
The logic for the support of the war lords is that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The idea was to help the warlord coalition in return for attacks on Islamists that the Bush administration thinks are allied with or sheltering al Qaeda suspects. (Boston Globe). That's all consistent with the "war on terror."
One might even think that this administration has finally come to accept the notion of 'real politik' but Washington has relied on intelligence from those very same war-lords which have dubbed themselves The Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism! Even the Somalis can tell that was a marketing ploy to get U.S. support. But the Busha administration wouldn't listen to any criticism of course:
A top U.S. official handling Somalia has been transferred from his job after criticising payments to warlords that are said to be fuelling some of Mogadishu's worst-ever fighting, diplomats said on Tuesday. (Reuters)
So they've done it again - ignoring long-term effects of their short-signted policy. As can be expected, the support of the war-lords has actually created the opposite effect of rallying Islamist groups and increasing support for them among Somalis. It has also strengthened the influential Mogadishu Sharia courts. While the coalition of warlords were well-equipped with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and antiaircraft guns, a fundamentalist Islamic group began asserting itself in the capital, setting up courts of Islamic law and building schools and hospitals.
Last week, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Mogadishu on Friday angrily condemning the United States for supporting warlords involved in clashes with Islamic militias that claimed 16 more lives overnight.
"If the real problem is Somalia, then what have we done to change the situation inside Somalia? Are we funding schools, health care or helping establish an effective government?" said Ted Dagne, the leading Africa analyst for the Congressional Research Service. "We have a generation of Somali kids growing up without education and only knowing violence and poverty. Unless there is a change, these could become the next warlords out of necessity for survival. That's perhaps the greatest threat we have yet to address.".
And guess what? Today, it looks like the Islamic militias may have actually won against Somalia's traditional warlords in the battle for control of Mogadishu (NYTimes). And what has the US gained from all this? Nothing but more anti-Americanism among the regular Somalis.

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