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Apocalypse Now: The Looming Disaster in Somalia

By Rashid Yahya Ali


The blitzkrieg conquest of Southern Somalia by the Union of Islamic Court’s (UIC) militias culminated in the fall of Jowhar, a strategic town, 90 km north of Mogadishu and the last stronghold of the faction leaders, putting almost half of the total landmass of Somalia under the full control of the clerics.


Within hours of the news, in Baidoa, the parliament of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which barely controls even one single town, scrambled to approve the deployment of foreign troops, including frontline states, to assist the TFG in its “national stabilization plan”.


After learning the passage of the legislation to deploy foreign troops, the UIC immediately announced the suspension of all contacts with the TFG and severed all forms of communication channels with Baidoa.


Predictably, there is now a heightened sense of urgency on the UIC military planners to move onto Baidoa before the arrival of troops from the organization of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The ground is set for the final battle.


According to the latest Somali web cast news pages, there has already been reported sightings in Baidoa of three plane loads of military hardware being unloaded for the TFG.


There is also an ongoing emergency session in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss the ever growing strength of the courts, between the top leaders of the TFG and international diplomatic corps. The President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House are all present.


Worse yet, in their first hurriedly convened meeting in New York, the newly formed International Contact Group on Somalia endorsed strong economic and diplomatic support for the transitional federal government. This is déjà vu all over on the same failed policies of packing the loosing side and further radicalizing the public and the clerics. The TFG is too weak and divided to stand a chance in facing the coming assault. Its remaining days are numbered in the range of weeks and not months.


Considering the overwhelming public support the clerics enjoy and their synchronicity with the masses on the   unyielding opposition to foreign troops, plus the landmass area under their control, not withstanding the widespread public discontent with the ineptitude of the TFG, there is no plausible rationale for the clerics to work with the TFG. It is far easier to disband them.


An ominous dark cloud of military showdown is gathering on the horizon.


Sadly, because of ill advised policies and failure to grasp the crux of the conflict, the brunt of this avoidable impending disaster will be borne by the people of Somalia, already reeling from the cruel effects of the worst famine in decades, 16 years of incessant violence and holistic destruction of the entire country.


Furthermore, the efficiency of the proposed intervention peace force from neighboring countries is open to questions, not to mention Ethiopia’s involvement in this endeavor, a volatile issue which by itself could further exacerbate the situation.


One wonders how an African force, in light of their pitiful performance in Darfur, Sudan, could in all fairness fare better in a more complex, hostile environment. The introduction of IGAD forces is a sure recipe for disaster and should be avoided.


The intervention force will be seen as occupation force imposing a despotic regime against the will of the people. The implications are indeed grave and counter productive to the stated goal of pacifying Somalia.


Plainly clear is that the triumph of the UIC over the warlords has proven a cost effective way of reinstituting peace and stability in Somalia. Mogadishu, the most violent city in the country has been completely pacified within a matter of weeks without an elaborate and expensive international infusion of financial assistance in demobilization and disarmament of militias.


Coming to the aid of ineffectual, semi-legitimate, divisive administration will not serve the long term interest of peace and security in Somalia. It is also rife with danger and unpredictable fallout with profound implications for the stability of the entire region.


The TFG had its time, over 700 days and nights to do good and failed to deliver. It is time to fold down the tents and leave so a new antidote could be prescribed.


If the US and the World could do business with the Dawa Party in Iraq and are amenable to engaging former Taliban members in Afghanistan, there is no reason to shun the UIC in Somalia.


The actions of the Union of Islamic Courts amply prove, as shown by their willingness to let communities take charge of their local affairs, a genuine desire to restore dignity and statehood to Somalia. Oh! How wishful to place the TFG under the same category? Perhaps it is time to let the Somalis determine their fate and reclaim their nation.


Sheikh Sharif, the chairman UIC has shown moderation and promised that his group will work with the international community to allay their concerns of transforming Somalia into an extremist nation and an abode of international terrorism. Therefore, wisdom and good will make it exigent that he and his group be given the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.



 Rashid Yahya Ali

Baltimore, MD

[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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