December 28, 2006
I don't know anything about Somalia, but a more knowledgeable reader pointed me to a post at NonArab-Arab (as Arabic-speaker who monitors the Atab press) that makes a lot of sense. This is an excerpt from a much longer post:
As Abu Aardvark likes to frequently say, Bin Laden and co these days are less about being an organization out to carry out direct attacks (though that still persists) as they are about changing the world view of as many Muslims as possible into believing the "Christian Crusaders" are out to destroy Islam. That, I believe, is a far more important battle than any bullets, smart bombs, suicide bombs, or phantom- or real-WMDs. It is also the essence of why the Bush Administration is such a set of royal screw-ups, why things keep getting worse everywhere Bush and co stick their noses in the Islamic and Arab worlds, and why Somalia is poised to become yet another disaster for US foreign policy...[T]his is going to be yet another Bushie disaster because the important thing in the long run for creating peace, stability, freedom fries...is to not allow Salafi Jihadists (who have zero chance of ever winning power militarily or at the ballot box) to "win" by letting their "clash of civilizations" worldview become the guiding worldview of the majority of Muslims and Arabs. The actions of the US and its allies in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, etc. all are massive examples which give credence to this worldview. US support for secular dictators throughout the Islamic world is another. Now it looks like Somalia will be added to the list (and once again, the US public will be sleeping as it happens and left ignorantly pondering "why do they hate us" the next time something nasty happens as a result).
Look at it from the point of view of your average dude on the streets of Cairo, Casablanca, Damascus, Karachi, Jakarta, or wherever else. You don't have to agree with this view (I for one don't), but this is how it looks to them today:
Shariah [Islamic law] is considered a positive ideal for how law and order should be administered.
Somalia was in anarchy until recently some religious Somalis banded together to implement Shariah. In so doing they brought back peace, stability, and justice where they had power.
The US saw the rise of "true Muslims" and wouldn't tolerate it.
The US first tried to stop these Muslims from doing their good by re-arming thugs and warlords, but that failed.
When that failed, the US turned to Christian foreigners (Ethiopia) and aided them in a war to wipe out the good Muslims who were just trying to bring back peace and justice to their country.
Bin Laden had been saying for years that the "Crusaders" were out to harm Islam in Somalia, and suddenly it looks like his warning was right all along and coming to open fruition.
Even though this version of events is frought with error and over-simplicity, it has enough truth, and the Bush Administration's policies are so genuinely dangerous and aggressive, that one has to ask, what in the world could they possibly say to turn the tide of public opinion in the Islamic world to their side of things? Answer: nothing. Once again, actions matter more than words, and US actions here are just plain wrong. That's not to say the other actors are pure and right (they're not), but it means that the sheer stubborn-headed automatic resort to the ugliest uses of force (direct or proxy) by the US and its allies instead of recognizing that there are genuine non-Qaeda interests and issues at play that need to be worked with in a complex manner — that therein lies the real problem. Bush's "gut" and Cheney's "one percent" self-induced-fear-mongering are the real sources of the problem here.
In Somalia...events are likely to take a course something akin to the US in Afghanistan but with Ethiopia playing the role of the US and the [Shariah] Courts Union the role of the Taliban. Ethiopia may win hands down at first, but then the real action starts to build up in a guerilla war that has implications beyond just the borders of Somalia. A Christians-attacking-Muslims dynamic will be an easy propaganda drive for the Courts and attract foreign fighters with fresh and nasty skills acquired from Iraq and Afghanistan though local Somali fighters will undoubtedly be the bulk of the troops. [...]
Folks, the point is simple: the Bush doctrine creates conflict and war everywhere it goes that convinces people in the Muslim world that Americans are out to get them. That in turn fuels conflict (for you Americans: that means it makes you less safe, not more safe) and makes the world a worse place. Somalia is about to become the next totally unnecessary-but-tragic example of this. And Americans are barely even watching. Get ready for another bit of blowback, as if we didn't have enough on our hands already. [Emphasis added]
In short: Somalia is poised to become another magnet and training ground for stateless global guerrillas (John Robb's phrase), à la Afghanistan and Iraq. Just what the world needs.
The US goes stomping around the Islamic world, brutal, clueless, self-defeating: "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed..."
We're being ruled by lunatics. Blowback is inevitable.
I believe the point this article is making to be absolutely true, but at the same time, there's just GOTTA be oil in Somalia.
This post is very timely. Check out today’s War and Peace report at DN dot O, R, G. Somalia is debated by Amy's guests, one, a professor of African history at Rutgers University and the other the Executive Director of Africa Action.
Watch segment here:
Also on today’s DN broadcast, some comments on Saddam Hussein’s farewell letter, in which he urges Iraqis not to hate the citizens of the countries who invaded Iraq -- just their leaders.
Here’s a man, a not-so-nice man, who had his country stolen from him, a man on his death bed, making more sense in a single request then anything our administration has said or done in the last six years. Put that in a video game.
Posted by: Jeff at December 28, 2006 11:21 PM
Oil is irrelevent. Yeah, there is a reasonable amount but it is tough sledding to produce it. Extremely timely post.
99.9 ethnic Somali are "Islamist." Including the warlords who have used the matrix of (the nine tribes in Somalia) tribal warfare as a foundation for their contentious ways, seperate from the shared religion.
Enter Sharia law - a slow process of normalizing the country back to stability, (forget how one feels personally about Islam for a moment and remember that in SOMALIA everyone is already a muslim) - - and kicking out the warlords, gangsters and thugs.
The United States policy presently overtly backs Ethopia and the transitional government which opposes the so-called "Islamists".
The transitional government is composed of the same warlords, gangsters and thugs who kicked US tail in the "black hawk down" epsiode and the selfsame crew that has been shaking down the country for the last 13 years.
They are Islamists also.
This will have serious repercussions and blowback. Count on it. The intervention borders on demonic.
Posted by: Jon S at December 29, 2006 04:25 AM
I have to admit I'm a bit in awe of your U.S./Ethiopia/Somalia clarity. For me, the news on Somalia has been a small trickle of dusty snippets that have settled to rest fuzzy on my backburner. So I can't say that oil is the primary driving force in meddling with Somalia, but I must disagree with you on one point; with regards to this administration, oil is *never* irrelevant.
Posted by: Jeff at December 29, 2006 02:30 PM