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 More than a decade of neglect and exploitations by warlords and international development groups compounded with the recent alleged U.S. surgical operations in supporting warlords have risked the opportunities for a Somali Government

By Ahmed Dirie, Ph.D 

Today, Somalia is at a very critical stage and in a situation full of severe humanitarian crisis and a high probability of becoming a terror battle ground, if matters are not taken care well right now. Unfortunately, the humanitarian and political crisis in Somalia was overshadowed by other conflicts with political clout including Bosnia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Darfur. However, the current crisis is a result of 15 years of neglect by the international community compounded by the recent miscalculations of ground realities by the U.S. Government in adopting a surgical operation of allegedly supporting ruthless warlords to root out Islamist elements in Somalia. The recent failure of the surgical operation had led the U.S. Government to shift gears and organize an international meeting on Somalia and if cautious approaches are not exercised it might lead Somalia to slide back into a deeper anarchy forever and become a fertile ground for terror breeding, severe humanitarian crisis, and eventual abuse of human rights.


Remember, Somalia was on the priority list for the war against terror right after 9/11 but it lacked a conclusive evidence of Al Qaeda having links in Somalia. But, Somalia's terror links resurfaced after the bombing of U.S. Embassy and a missile attack at an Israeli airplane in Kenya, and the likelihood of certain Al Qaeda men hiding in Somalia after being flushed out from Afghanistan and other places. These terror related developments have prompted U.S. Government to devise a surgical operation of supporting Mogadishu warlords than engaging a large military operation.


So far, the surgical operation of supporting war criminals has failed because the Islamic Courts Militias have captured Mogadishu city and its surrounding towns previously controlled by ruthless warlords and there are no reports of Al Qaeda elements captured. Besides, more than 300 civilians were killed in the recent fights and the tactic was unpopular to Somalis as well as the international community.


Now, could a total failure be avoided and Somalia's current volatile situation remedied? Yes, if certain actions taken immediately, especially by totally abandoning the tactic of teaming up with unpopular war criminals and adopting a comprehensive strategy that would advocate a strong Somali government.


Fortunately, the State Department has called an international meeting on Somalia after realizing the seriousness of the Somali crisis. However, it is very important that U.S. policymakers to consider the following suggestions as guidelines in drafting a comprehensive strategy. And U.S. policymakers must exercise a cautious approach in dealing with different interest groups including the international agencies.


First, it is very important to understand that Somalia is a country divided into clan-based enclaves and each enclave is controlled by either 2-3 warlords or Islamic courts and both groups are clan-based militias. Therefore, it would be a wiser shift to fast track a bipartisan house resolution co-sponsored by Senators Coleman, Feingold, and Dayton which advocates a comprehensive policy and support of Somalia's transitional government― a policy based on economic development, political, and anti-terror strategies.


Secondly, United Stated must open dialogues that would engage all stakeholders including the Islamic court leaders and implement strategies that would isolate and marginalize unpopular warlords and extreme elements.


However, a word of caution, U.S should aggressively engage the Somali intellectuals who were marginalized by the warlords and the elite international groups based in Kenya for the reconstruction of Somalia. In fact, there is a common impression among Somali intellectuals where Somalia became a milking cow for warlords and international development groups for the past 15 years and this should be looked into in finding lasting solutions. This does not imply a process of restarting from the scratch but rather a process based on transparency and accountability, especially building on the existing channels.


Third, adopt a policy that upholds the protection of human rights of all Somalis because support of war criminals means legitimization of human rights violations and war atrocities committed of 15 years. There is a substantial human rights violations including killing of innocent women and children, intellectuals, peace activists, and public executions of minorities by both the warlords and Islamic courts militiamen.


Fourth, the outputs from the International Meeting on Somalia should be presented to Somali intellectuals and community leaders for their inputs and also to make sure that the adopted strategies would lead to a winnable and lasting solution for Somalia's current crisis.


Finally, a winnable and lasting anti-terror strategy would be a strategy that considers the entire stability of Horn of Africa and this could be achieved by supporting a Somalia's transitional government―A pragmatic policy of winning the hearts and minds of the Somali people who are fed up of anarchy.


Ahmed M. Dirie is a Scientist and freelance writer based in Cupertino, California and a regular contributor to Hiiraan Online. He can be reached at E-mail: [email protected]



The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "Hiiraan Online"



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