Thursday, May 18, 2006

Back in Somalia

The Washington Post is reporting this:

More than a decade after U.S. troops withdrew from Somalia following a disastrous military intervention, officials of Somalia's interim government and some U.S. analysts of Africa policy say the United States has returned to the African country, secretly supporting secular warlords who have been waging fierce battles against Islamic groups for control of the capital, Mogadishu.

Remember Black Hawk Down? Some of these warlords may have been fighting against the U.S. in those bloody street battles in Mogadishu. And now they're on our side? How things change, eh? I suppose the enemy of my Somali enemy must somehow be my friend. Something like that.

There may be good and valid reasons for the U.S. to pursue friendly relations with these warlords, not least with respect to the war on terror. Given the overall state of chaos in Somalia, the country could well become "an al-Qaeda base".

Still, these warlords are now "well-equipped with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and antiaircraft guns, which were used in heavy fighting in the capital last week". Could they eventually turn against the U.S.? Could they shift their fleeting loyalties to the very terrorist organizations the U.S. seeks to destroy? Will they contribute to the chaos rather than help to alleviate it? Are they actually committed to the war on terror (unlikely) or they rather more concerned with the acquisition of arms and their own place on the domestic stage (likely)?

This may be a risk worth taking, but it seems to me that it's a huge risk nonetheless.

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