Saturday, January 17, 2009

Relief in Somalia

For some good news, the Ethiopian army has finally withdrawn from Somalia, though not all (The stationing of the Ethiopian army, which has been so violent in Somalia, in the Jubba Valley has a special serendipity). Of course, even this relative improvement in the situation is mitigated by the fact that the fighting continues and that the Islamist that the Ethiopians, backed by America, were ostensibly trying to eliminate are now the among the main groups seizing control of the country. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) placed in power by the Ethiopian invaders is of course collapsing without the Ethiopian army to prop them up. What dampens this occasion even more is that the UN has already passed a resolution granting permission to for any nation to strike Somalia at any time.

But despite all that, this a victory for the Somalis, they have pushed out their occupiers and have achieved the freedom to at least squabble amongst themselves over who will rule their home rather than have foreigners or Quisling locals imposing rule upon them. Once again, people the world over are not interested in being dictated to by foreigners, least of all to be ruled by them. This whole catastrophe in Somalia, recently upstaged by the events in Gaza, provides yet another example of how aspects of conflicts the U.S. gets involved in are viewed through the wrong paradigms. First, the Union of Islamic Courts was viewed as synonymous with al Qaeda when there was no particular reason to believe that. While the Union was explicitly Islamic, nearly all Somalis are Muslim and see that place as an Islamic land so that evidence for such a conclusion isn't particularly strong. Yet, the U.S. continued to act as if that was true and so made it into a self-fulfilling prophesy, the Islamists are in a position to potentially take over Somalia. The other paradigm was that Somalis wanted a Western created government to rule them. It may seem that I'm simply repeating myself, but if one looks at all the attempts by the UN to "achieve peace" in Somalia all have involved a coalition government organized and "recognized" by the "international community". "International community" is the euphemism typically used for the Western governments and others who generally agree with them and all these coalitions have been made outside of Somalia. Little wonder then that these peace plans were seen as attempts for outsiders to dominate them.

With luck, there will be some sort of reconciliation between the different groups and the war can end. But given that the U.S. was willing to come back after the whole Black Hawk Down debacle I wouldn't bet on that. Congratulations just the same to the Somalis who kicked out the Ethiopians though, for whatever it's worth.

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