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The fall of Islamic Courts

By Ahmed Mohamed
Be aware, the fall of the Islamic courts is not synonymous to the fall of Islam or even Islamist project in
Somalia. Islam is the religion of all Somalis and will stay forever as a strong faith. No doubt, Islam is one of the elements that unite Somalis provided that radicalism is avoided. Our discussion here is focused on the fall of the appealing slogan, the “Islamic courts” under which popular uprising was launched against the evil warlords and their American supporters in Mogadishu. This rebellion was so popular that most Somalis supported and joyfully celebrated in witnessing the departure of the villainous warlords. Somalis and non-Somalis alike who supported Mogadishu armed rebellion under Islamic slogan were expecting peaceful Somalia in the aftermath of the warlord era.
Main expectations of the Somali people are mostly included:
(1) Islamic courts will probably work with the newly established Mogadishu Administration under the leadership of Mr. Cadde Gabow. (2) They will hopefully work in consultation with the influential civil society organizations and business communities in Mogadishu. (3) The will maintain public order and security in the chaotic city of Mogadishu and in this way maintain public support. (4)  They will facilitate population in Mogadishu to create a viable administration which allows Federal Institutions to move to its capital as early as possible. (5) They will bring up some unpopular issues such as foreign forces to the table in the upcoming dialogue with the TFG.
However, most people were not expecting that “Islamic courts” will be a new armed political group trying to impose with the point of gun “a Wahabi type” of Islamic version on the Somali society.  However, that hope was dashed yesterday when the “union of Islamic courts” was changed to the “Council of the Islamic Courts”, a new organization with Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys is now its chairman. The moderate face of the Islamic courts represented by Sh. Sharif Ahmed during the popular uprising and in Khartoum negotiations is gone and the era of radicalization and countdown for the fall of the “Islamic courts” was kicked off yesterday.
 The likely future development in Mogadishu is gloomy. Inter-clan sensitivity and religious discontent is already rising in Mogadishu. New alliance consisting of some clans and Sufi orders are the process of emergence to counter hegemony of the “council of Islamic courts” over Mogadishu consisting of some clans and Wahabi version of Islamism. These forces will adhere also to the Islamic slogans and claim their own clan based courts.  The appearance of this force will place the “Council of Islamic Courts” in a very difficult policy options. They have to choose between many bad options. The most disastrous is to wage a campaign against what could be considered their local enemies represented specific clans and Sufi related Islamic courts and disarm them forcefully. Other possible option is to disclaim their overall control of Mogadishu and negotiate with these new alliances for power sharing options. Though, first option is most likely, nevertheless, both options eventually lead for the fall of the popular support for the Islamic courts.
On the other hand, weak TFG in Baidoa is threatened by the establishment of the “Islamic council”, where more radical elements took over and moderate faces are being marginalized.  Moreover, neighbouring countries and international community hardly accept to deal with a “Council of Islamic Courts” headed by Sh. Hassan Dahir Aweys, a renowned Al-Itihad military leader, a group which the US said was linked to al-Qaeda. As a result, the next round of negotiation in Cairo will be probably sabotaged by those countries that are sensitive to the growing Arab League’s role and at the same time oppose the emergent role of the radical Islamists.   Both sides, TFG and Islamic Council, will take a hard-line position before the next meeting. This scenario will create difficulties for the “Islamic Council” in Mogadishu and internationally. At the same time, TFG may receive strong regional and international support to deal with the “Council of Islamic Courts” in Mogadishu.
Although capacity of the TFG is very slim and its leadership is lacking vision and coherent policies to deal with the current situations in Mogadishu, nevertheless, Islamic courts are in same position. They have claimed authority in the chaotic Mogadishu and lack leadership and vision to deal with the Somali crisis and Mogadishu chronic problems. Immense challenges are surrounded Islamic courts and most likely scenario is their failure. Countdown time has already begun with the establishment of the “Council of Islamic Courts” and their policy options are very thin. If they do not radically change their attitude, their days are counted and they will be part of the failed history of the radical political projects undertaken by the armed groups in Somalia in the last 16 years.    
By Ahmed Mohamed
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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