Sunday, January 04, 2009

Somalia's "official" government evaporating, Ethiopia pulling out

I have sadly failed to keep up my posting on Somalia (my last was, shockingly, November 2007). Predictably though, things have not gotten better. I'll let you read the whole sordid story for yourself in this NYT article, but the big story is that basically, the Transitional National Government can no longer claim any real power whatsoever. Whatever remains of it there are are in hiding being shelled by Islamist militias, possibly from the Bakaara Market (the market made famous by Black Hawk Down). Government and African Union forces seem powerless to stop them, as apparently the Ethiopians are done with this venture. The Ethiopians were providing the only significant stabilizing force (ironically since they provided the destabilizing force to begin with). While their complete departure has yet to be confirmed, it is hard to imagine they would try to retain much sway in the country from outside the capital. One thing that has remained true is that whoever controls Mogadishu can claim control of the country, even if it's only nominal.

What's more interesting to me is that the Ethiopian intervention appears to have created rival Islamist groups.

That faction, the Union of Islamic Courts, signed a cease-fire with the government in 2006 and is not allied with the Shabab, one of Somalia’s most militant Islamic groups. The Shabab controls much of southern Somalia.

Should I point out that I repeatedly said the Ethiopian invasion was a bad idea, and terrible policy for the US? Well, yes, I should. The right-wing nuts who supported this invasion need to have it rubbed in their faces. Here, let me recap what I wrote:

This guy is telling us that the "realpolitik" of the situation favored our intervention. Did it? Last anyone said, we haven't captured or killed those three suspected terrorists. We did, however, create yet another failed nation-state that Islamic terrorists might now use for training camps, but we've got no one to negotiate with to end it. Somalian pirates are back in action who had been curtailed by the ICU while they were in power. We haven't "re-installed the legitimate government", because for one, they were never in power (or the legitimate government), and as we showed in Iraq you can't force a government on anyone. Nor do we have the means with which to back them up. Some of the idiot higher-ups may have thought the Ethiopians would do our dirty work for them, but Ethiopia doesn't care about Somalia. All they wanted was to remove the only political group in Somalia that could have united the country so they wouldn't have to deal with Somalia as a rival

And guess what? We still haven't captured or killed anybody we thought was important, we've shattered the stability of the country and were unable to bring about peace again, and now we have a failed nation-state where we know insurgents are coming who are bringing lessons they learned fighting us in Iraq, and finally, because there is no law on the land, Somali pirates are running rampant. Wonderful. Ok, right-wing nuts, defend the intervention now.

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