What Somalia wants

SOMALIA continues to lurch from one crisis to another. As if the unfortunate people of the African country didn’t have enough problems of their own, Ethiopia has sent in its forces. Obviously, the big neighbour has been alarmed by the onward march of the Islamists.

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Published: Mon 24 Jul 2006, 11:22 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:11 PM

The Union of the Islamic Courts has not only driven the many warring warlords from the capital Mogadishu and now controls much of the country, it has restored a working order and peace in the country. People had been sick and tired of the long reign of lawlessness and blood-letting in the country. And the so-called national unity government had no power to talk of. In fact, this ‘government’ couldn’t even control capital Mogadishu, let alone enforcing law and order in the rest of Somalia. This is why the Islamists have been so widely welcomed by ordinary people.

It is strange, therefore, that the Bush administration has joined the efforts to prop up the discredited and ineffective coalition of warlords, even though it has been rejected by the people and the Islamists have received wide support from all sections of the Somalian society.

This is where the basic knowledge of Africa’s geography, history and complex geopolitical realities of the continent and most importantly sound political advice helps. You would expect that with all those resources and the world’s most feared intelligence agency at its disposal, the administration would do its homework and think long and hard before taking any major step — such as dismissing the new dispensation in Mogadishu as the ‘terrorists’ or encouraging neighbours like Ethiopia to add to Somalia’s woes. What Somalia needs is not interference from nosey neighbours or dangerous politics of big powers but genuine help from the international community.

All it needs is help with bare and basic necessities of life such as security, food, water and shelter etc. This is one of the poorest and deprived countries of the world. Life is hard. Weather conditions are harsh. Rains are rare and water is rarer still. So there’s no question of a sustained crop ensuring regular sources of food for people and their cattle. So what Somalians are looking for is bare minimum to survive, to make the two ends meet.

All this fuss over Somalia being hijacked by the Islamists is ridiculous. What do you expect simple people, who have been disconnected from the rest of the world, to do in desperation except turn to God for help? They have no schools. The lucky among them get to learn and read the Holy Quran. Of course, Somalia needs a proper education system and schools. But then it needs many other things too. Unfortunately, since the neocons have taken over the US establishment, everything associated with Islam or Muslims is painted with a black brush. Islam is not part of the problem in Somalia. In fact, it can be part of the solution.

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