In December of 2006 Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, currently only-in-name president of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, was on the run from the Ethiopian army, the CIA, and the U.S. Rangers. He was hiding in the muddy swamps of Ras Kamboni at the southernmost tip of Somalia, recently kicked out from Moqadisho by Ethiopia. He and his Islamic Union Courts were considered to be terrorist by the Bush Administration and were hunted down by the U.S. and its allies. How time changes!
This week Sheikh Sharif is in Minneapolis, MN (and the home of this crazy congresswoman) meeting with Congressmen, Governor, and city councilmen/mayor. Couple of months ago he had a meeting with Secretary Clinton in Nairobi during her Africa trip. From terrorist to president for Sheikh Sharif in just two years. That, friends, must be a first.
To me this says a lot about the U.S.’s awful foreign policy than anything else.
Lately we’ve been hearing the comeback of the UIC in Central Somalia and part of Southern Somalia, particularly in Kismayo. Maxamed Ibrahim Macallimu, a reporter for the Somali section of the BBC finds two undeniable facts: the Union of Islamic Courts bring peace and stability to every place they control, but on the downside, they don’t tolerate behaviors that they disagree with – silly things that have ruined them in the past. In the piece, Macallimu interviews two truckers based in Central Somalia about the security situation. Both truckers speak enthusiastically about the improved road security in which they no longer have to deal with militia checkpoints and frequent robbing that plague the roads.
The UIC are also credited with stopping the chronic clan fights that contribute to the general lack of safety in the areas they now control. For Somalis, law and order is really all they want, which the illegitimate ‘Transitional Federal Government’ of Warlord/Thug Abdillahi Yusuf Ahmed can never provide for Somalis even with the manpower and political backing of the “international community.”
But the Union of Islamic Court’s notorious Talibanesque rule comes with the package. They’re still harassing people for silly things like hairstyles, watching a football match or a movie. I just wish these guys would focus on the larger picture, like winning the Somali population’s support against the warlords by continuing to provide greater security to the people, add social services to their arsenals, and cease their often indiscriminate attacks on TFG/Ethiopia/AU personell when civilians are present.
It’s quite difficult to choose from two extremes when all people want is the middle road. The Macallimu report can be listened through the link below.
via BBCSomali.com | Wararka | Waa sidee taliska Islaamiyiinta gobollada dhexe?.
Another Somalia peace conference has begun in Djibouti over the weekend in which the U.N. is trying to bring both the TFG and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia for negotiation, but already the conference has been declared dead on arrival, as all the important players stayed home. Complicating matters, the United Nation envoy is meeting both sides separately because both groups do not want to talk to each other directly. So if this is the case, couldn’t this be done over the phone? Perhaps a Skype conference call could’ve saved them a bunch of money.
The issue that is dragging down the efforts of the International community (if one wants to call that) is the presence of Ethiopian troops in Somalian soil – forget about the slaughtering, raping, and robbing of Ethiopian troops that are committing- that one side (the ‘transitional federal government’) is adamant on keeping off the table of discussion while the opposition insists on first dealing with it. It is as if one group is heading north while the other is heading south. No wonder this is just another waste of donor countries’ money. All it takes to resolve the issue is one phone call from President Bush to Meles Zenawi: get your troops out of Somalia. Yet this is the last call that will ever take place.
What baffles me the most is the fact that the U.N. blessed the invasion of Meles Zenawi’s troops into Somalia but is now trying to mediate and “bring peace to Somalia.” The problem is the international community never understood the underlying problem of Somalia. Instead of bringing non-combatant civilians, civic leaders and community activists, the international community has single-mindedly focused on bringing only warlords thugs to negotiate for “peace.” Instead of helping the Union of Islamic Courts in eradicating warlord thugs, they (mainly the U.S.) helped warlords back into power after they were run out of Somalia and destroyed their militia by the UIC in 2006.
Instead of giving greater voice and support to leaders like Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, they gave money and weapons to warlord thugs to destroy the country. So now there is a raging insurgency and increased extremism in the country, the ‘international community’ wants to create ‘peace.’ The fact is that the money they are wasting in Djibouti ought to have been used for aid to the starving population of Mogadishu rather than on a five star hotel in Djibouti for people who have no business representing Somalia or its starved people. Just like the bazillion ‘peace conferences’ before it, this one in Djibouti has started and ended without even the two groups that were supposed to be negotiating ever talking to each other at any point. At least this is a new record.