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Shortcomings of Islamic Courts Union

By Abdi Hersi


There is no doubt that the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) is widely supported by the majority of Somalis in the southern regions of the country that suffered many years under the tyranny of greedy warlords. This popular support enabled the ICU to militarily defeat the warlords and restore law and order in the capital which led to the successful reopening of Mogadishu International airport and seaport. The reopening of these vital pieces of state infrastructure had a direct impact on peoples livelihoods as the cost of movement and of goods between one place to another is reduced greatly by the absence of multiple warlord checkpoints. As a result of the above successes, communities in other parts of the southern regions of Somalia invited the ICU to help them remove warlords in their areas so that they can as well run their lives normally without the constant threat and intimidation of warlords. In response to these desperate calls from vulnerable people, the ICU successfully took over the southern port city of Kismayo and appointed a member of its own sharia council from the area as its representative. This appointment and the disbanding of the unholy and illegitimate Jubba Valley Alliance are some of the latest positive development in Somalia and in particular the Waamo areas. But the ICU risks loosing its popular support from the peace loving people of Somalia if it does not address certain shortcoming of its dealings with Somali people.


  1. The alleged burning of Somali flag in Kismayo is a shortsighted view that will not advance the cause of Islam. Equally, the replacement of an invented movement flag to the national flag is an act that lacks maturity on the part of this militia. Senior leadership in the union should come out and quickly distance themselves any acts of this kind that question the identity of the nation state.
  2. The ICU must clearly state that their political aims and objectives are confined within the boundaries of Somalia and are not affiliated to any groups outside Somalia regardless of their political ideology. If the ICU fails to do exactly that it might loose a lot of support from grassroots people who see local issues facing the Somali people are reasons of their unwavering support for the ICU.


  1. Critics of the ICU pointed many occasions that the leadership of the union turned a blind eye of the plight of vulnerable people in the lower shabelle region that is occupied and oppressed by a senior member of its union. The ICU leadership must strive to address this expressed concern of its support base through out Somalia by appointing a local person to be their representative in the region. It is believed that this can be achieved in a non confrontational manner by people of good faith and sincerity.

The dramatic changes of the politics of Somalia since the inception of the ICU have also altered politics in East Africa and in particular neighboring Kenya where for the first time the government of Kenya showed willingness to be part of an IGAD peacekeeping force that is deployed to Somalia.  This new interventionist strategy undermines Kenya’s reputation as a neighboring country that has always been impartial in internal politics of Somalia. It is evident that the deployment of the stated African peace keeping forces favors the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) thus making reconciliation with the ICU difficult to achieve. Many Somalis including myself see this shift of policy unhelpful at this particular time as the ICU is gradually restoring law and order in most parts of South without any foreign assistance. I believe that Kenya should mediate between the TFG and the ICU in order to build on the progress made by the ICU in areas of security. Kenya therefore needs to use its full diplomatic power to move the parties forward in achieving full reconciliation rather than becoming part of the conflict. I commend ambassador Affey’s effort of bringing the Somali conflict to an end but urge him to review the issue of Kenyan peacekeepers to Somalia.


Abdi Hersi

Masters of International Relations

University of Queensland

Brisbane Australia
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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