On August 30, four Ugandan soldiers were killed in Mogadishu following an Al Shabaab assault on the state capital.
Monday, September 06, 2010
by Yusuf Serunkuma
On September 1, The New Vision, Uganda’s government owned newspaper, in an editorial, pleaded for “beefing up” of deployment in this coastal country, not just from Uganda, but from the broader international community.
“Stable Somalia is not only good for the Somalis, but the whole international community. Since the collapse of a functional government in Mogadishu in 1991, basic social services also collapsed…the world has paid dearly on the hands of terrorists. It would, therefore, be a grave mistake to allow a rogue government to take root in Mogadishu,” the editorial noted.
This was rather an emotional appeal, the kind that defines approaches to conflicts in Africa these days —speaking the language of humanitarian intervention against “rogues”, “terrorists” or “extremists”.
Foreign aid activist and U2 lead singer Bono has been cautioned to use his head while campaigning for aid for Africa, and not his heart. The New Vision editorial seemed to be heart-based, and this is misleading.
The editorial lamented further that millions have died due to famine and insurgency, and that the cost this failed state has had on international trade is not likely to end soon unless the peacekeeping mission is improved. And that the mission should be changed from peacekeeping to peace enforcement.
This is lunacy. Does foreign intervention or peacekeeping help pull a state out of the rubble? This is a naïve assumption for it chooses not to respect the issues at hand, but rather emphasises the humanitarian picture — number of casualties of the crisis.
While this is certainly a bad picture, we need to do the Somalis some favour - leave them alone.
The situation might deteriorate further; the number of dead may escalate tremendously, the president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and several of his ministers may be killed (God forbid), and warlords may take over the country.
But while all this could be disastrous in the short term, foreign intervention is worse and will last longer.
It is rather absurd that many believe that the Al Shabaab are attuned to fighting. This is not true.
Should they take over the country as its leaders, the Somali populace will ask them for healthcare, education, security, participation in trade and infrastructure improvement. They will have to “forcefully sober up” so as to sustain their legitimacy.
They may have to use Sharia for their rule, and if the international community is afraid of this, then AMISOM is protecting (or fighting) the wrong war.
The Al Shabaab is a nationalistic group fighting perceived imperialism. And, as a young group (they started in 2006), they are a product of the second US invasion.
Modern US imperialism has had nasty results for global politics and international peace. In 1953, after three weeks of covert operation, Washington and London staged a coup that brought down a democratically elected government in Iran.
Prime Minister Muhammad Mosadegh, having nationalised, what truly belonged to Iran, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, was lurched at as an enemy to the interests of the superpowers. In international history, that coup has come to define global politics to-date.
Russia attacked Afghanistan, fearing the US/British threat in Iran; the US reacted by training the Taliban to deal with the Russian ‘infidels’. This has come to be called the war on terror and it is the ugly side of imperialism.
Many have discarded this as an “ancient piece of history,” thinking that events happen once and have no bearing on shaping the future.
In 2006, fearing that a Sharia-led Somalia would provide ground for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, the US brought down another regime in this country, not through a covert coup this time, but through open aggression.
At the time, Somalia was led by a Union of Islamic Courts where village mullahs provided a resemblance of government; punishing law breakers, establishing healthcare reform. Today, a youth group, Al-Shabaab is angry with them — and all their allies.
Their fighting, therefore, cannot be viewed as an addiction to chaos to warrant international intervention; it is simply a hatred for imperialism.
Writing on the same day as the New Vision editorial, the Canadian-based columnist Opiyo Oloya who just recently paid a visit to Somalia and had audience with the president also wrote a narrative of events that subtly hinted on an improved Somalia, courtesy of foreign intervention.
“I have seen a people ready to embrace peace, progress and development. The question is whether the leadership is ready.”
This is a misleading strand; Somalis are ready to pacify their country, if left alone.
Source: The Observer