Thursday, October 05, 2006

Meanwhile in Somalia…

A round-up of sorts...

  • Wanna make $100 a week? The Islamic Courts are hiring part time hand choppers.
  • The ICU controls “70% of Somalia” and it is headed by someone who hates the Qat and, presumably, the hip-wriggling vocation of Beyonce.
  • Ethiopia: meet your new neighbors… fundamentalist Islamists, Ethiopia. Ethiopia, fundamentalist Islamists. Now play nice, you two.
  • Osama’s Craigslist ad:

“Wanted: African country torn asunder by tribal warfare to serve as gateway to, um, ‘law and order’ type of hush-hush operation. Access to several strategic ports a plus. If you are in close proximity of two countries with psychopath leaders who think proxy wars are fun and funny, if you like the mellifluous sounds of Jihad in the morning and long walks on the beach, contact me ASAP. AOLIM I.D. is ‘we-will-rule-the-world-11.’ Special preference given to populations which like/love/obsess over Whitney Houston (strictly in a ‘women should wear the beehive suits’ Islamic militant kind of way). Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to bring the "slam" in "Islamisist." Call today! And, oh… death to America.”

  • And no potential geo-political disaster in the Hon is complete without at least one incomprehensibly senile soundbite from the Ethiopian government. Ato Bereket Simon, do what you do best: “If the Islamic courts led by the Jihadists are attacking Baidoa, we have told them we will not let them do it.”

Never gets old.

So eight years from now, President Bush will be on CNN and some smirky reporter will ask him why he didn’t do enough to stop Islamic fundamentalism in the Horn. Mr. Bush will have his long-awaited version of the Clintonesque meltdown:

I was the decider. I was deciding at that time. And that fell’er there at that time Mekles… Medes… abu-bin-Madras (can’t recall his name right now) he was tellin’ us this was no big deal and that he would “crush” the.. the Talibanists. He was our ally in the War on Terror, you see. We believe our allies. We are… believers. The fell’er said he’d take care of it all he needed was a little money, well heck a lot of money, and license to prosecute all the so-called “opposition” which was spreading the genocide and the ethnical strife and the over throwing of his constitution. You can’t go ‘round attempting to overthrow a constitution! So we said, “Hell, yeah. Do what you must, Melkes. We’ll pretend it’s all part of the… democratization process.” Who knew he was gonna be such a … well, at least I tried. I tried and failed, but I tried. And now you did your little liberal hit job on me when all I wanted to talk about is how I love me cutting shrubs…”

In the meantime, Four Killed as Christians and Muslims Clash in Ethiopia.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Clinton meltdown was anything but that. I felt it was a well orchestrated put u in ur place u nabobs of negativism..sorry Spiro,aimed squarely at the Fox Fanatics. Truth or dare...Chris Wallace has a perpetual smirk!

12:04 PM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Wonq,

you would like to see the skies of Mogadishu, Somalia to turn green like that of Baqdad and Kabul? you want Dubya's planes to level them

4:56 PM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous maf54 said...

$100/week? "slam"ing for islam? ummm---do they have i.m. down there in somalia? underaged warriors? i'm packin' and setting my alarm to the mellifluous sounds of jihad. (smiley face.)

5:35 PM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was hilarious Wonq!!!

1:41 AM, October 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Islamist alliance, the Union of Islamic Courts, may have succeeded in gaining control in much of Somalia, but, having defeated the country's warlords, the papered-over cracks in the alliance are now becoming more noticeable.

The UIC is split between its Salafist and Qutubist tendencies, led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and moderate cleric Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, respectively.

Mr Aweys, on the US list of those allegedly linked to terrorism, is widely believed to be the genius behind the military campaign that led to the UIC's victory.

But while he was secretly planning, Mr Ahmed, a Sudanese-trained former secondary school teacher, was slowly carving a niche for himself in the international media as the acceptable face of political Islam in Somalia.

World Cup crackdown

Mr Aweys converted to radical political Islam in the early 1990s and joined al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, a group that, like the UIC, brought together various strains of modern political Islam.

But al-Itihaad was defeated by Ethiopian forces and militia loyal to Puntland leader Abdullahi Yusuf - now Somalia's interim president - and Mr Aweys retreated to his home region in central Somalia.

Later, he went to Mogadishu and began a period of self-education, which observers say led him to the Salafi ideology.

This doctrine, an off-shoot of the Saudi Wahhabi school, seeks to promote a version of Islam that emphasises ritual purity.

It frowns upon all forms of bid'a, or modern innovation, and it was in this context that UIC-aligned militiamen cracked down on cinemas showing World Cup football matches.

The Salafi ideology regards television and sports as lahw - vulgar past-times - and is both opposed to rationalism and virulently anti-modernist.

Salafis favour a rigid and literal interpretation of Islamic texts and regard other Muslim sects as deviants. They teach against compromise and holy war is the pivot around which their beliefs revolve.


The Somali counter-current to Salafism is Qutubism, which owes its birth to the Egyptian Islamist thinker Sayyid Qutub and his book In The Shade Of The Koran.

Qutub's vision is less atavistic than the Salafist vision and his critique of modern Western civilization is, in the main, not too extreme.

Ahmed is in favour of engagement with the West
And it is Mr Ahmed who has emerged as its principle proponent in Somalia, speaking in favour of engagement with the West and with the transitional government.

But in a society where the gun rules, it is difficult to see how he can become a powerful player. Real power lies with Mr Aweys.

And given the deep grudge he bears President Yusuf following al-Itihaad's bloody defeat, he may capitalise on his new-found power to make life difficult for the weak president and further his ambitions for a Greater Somalia.

Meanwhile in Mogadishu, the situation is further complicated by inter-clan rivalries, as well as the apparent resurgence of the traditional mainstream Sunni sects that are creating their own Islamic courts in a bid to counter the influence of the UIC.

There have been suggestions that violence could break out between the rival Islamic groups as they jostle for power.


At the moment, Mr Aweys needs Mr Ahmed to mollify the critics of the UIC at home and abroad, but a major falling-out is inevitable at some stage.

Indeed, Mr Ahmed has hinted at resigning in an interview with the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper.

The Islamists are fast squandering the public goodwill they earned since they ousted the hated warlords.

Liberal-minded Somalis feel uncomfortable with their puritanical creed. Islam in Somalia has traditionally been moderate, relaxed and tolerant.

But not only have the UIC's moral vigilantes raided cinema halls, but they have also stormed wedding parties and mixed-sex gatherings.

Petty traders are also unhappy with the high taxes imposed by the UIC. There have been protests, some bloody, in UIC-controlled towns such as Jowhar, north of the capital.

The honeymoon now appears to be over for the UIC. In Somalia's chaotic and fluid political landscape, a major backlash against the courts cannot be ruled out.

7:30 AM, October 06, 2006  
Anonymous dube said...

Hardly hilarious. Sad actually. You know this glib way we analyze the Somali and shake our heads and wonder how they could be so out of sorts that they can't get their state in order? That's how the west looks at us when we go pleading our case.

12:21 PM, October 06, 2006  
Anonymous etw said...

Hardly, hardly all glib, Dube. You might have missed the satire in this. Read between the lines-- (as in the articles linked.)Perhaps I was too subtle.

Anonymous, I loved your post. Thank you kindly. I have a few questions:

The natural fault line between Aweys and Ahmed was very stark, IMHO, as far back as June when Mogadishu fell. (Ahmed's letter to the UN, EU and the US was nothing short of groundbreaking.) Instead of recognizing the fault lines and working with it, didn't the West (aided by hysteria, myopia and Melesocratic manipulations) react irrationally, thus making possible the social engineering of Aweys? (As always, people seeking respite from one bad problem jump towards another even if they know the relationship might be ephemeral?)

Do you feel that the Meles government over the past years has perpetuated the myth that a strong Somalia is bad for Ethiopia-- something he has been doing to Ethiopia and Ethiopians for the past 16 years? Therefore, Somalia has replaced Eritrea as the boogeyman Ethiopians should rally to defeat. The concept that a democratic and stable neighbor makes you stronger is a foreign concept to us, therefore we allow our leaders to manipulate our base fears. (We buy the line that "Somalia/Eritrea/CUD wants to destroy Ethiopia" whereas it is the EPRDF that is destroying us.) To give you a reductionist example, your neighbor’s property value affects yours… so you want your neighbor’s house to be just as beautiful because that pulls UP your property value.

The possible (you think inevitable) imploding of the Aweys/Ahmed fault line is the kind of disaster that could have been avoided way back when people had not been so entrenched in fanaticism-- you are right, in a "guns rule" society there is no room for the moderates, which is why recognizing moderates and partnering up with them would have been the saner way for Ethiopia to go. However, it was expedient and self-serving to send troops to Baidoa, therefore radicalizing even moderate Somalis-- "enemy is invading your land. Are you going to fight?" Textbook example of ratcheting up nationalism when it serves you. It has worked in the past- Ethiopia vs. Eritrea-- and it will work again-- Somalia vs. Ethiopia.

Going back to the backlash you correctly predict: it’s the backlash that we should have worked to avoid because by the time people reach that point (fanatical belief that you are God's chosen), moderates have already lost the power to set the agenda. You will be fighting with people impervious to reason (again as you pointed out) who are ready to kill and die for Wahabist Islam. How do good guys fight against that? How do moderates and intellectuals who don't believe in carpet bombing- not the literal way- counter that?

So, to me, the backlash is going to hurl Somalia into further bloodshed which will have major repercussions in the Horn. I don’t revel in that because it has detrimental long term results that are no less deleterious than 15 years of rule by the warlords. The time to have intellectually marginalized Aweys might have come and gone, and as long as he in turn uses Ethiopia/moderate Islam as a boogieman, peace will be elusive. We have learnt nothing from Afghanistan.

But..... what do I know?

Perhaps what we need is a moderate Somali-Ethiopian discussion. Let me know if I made any factual errors in my post here:

2:54 PM, October 06, 2006  
Anonymous David Ellocough said...

Great discussion.

Bottom line is, there is an acute lack of long term strategy regarding Somalia and the Horn of Africa. International Contact Group on Somalia has been deficient both in will and expertise, and the proxy war in Somalia between Ethiopia and Eritria will be the straw that broke the camel's back. Diffusing a strongman like Aweys (who can easily become the Al-Sadar of Somalia) is going to be a task and a half. In the meantime people are dying by the hour.

Thanks for letting me jot a few words.


3:58 PM, October 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maf54 said...

$100/week? "slam"ing for islam? ummm---do they have i.m. down there in somalia? underaged warriors? i'm packin' and setting my alarm to the mellifluou sounds of jihad. (smiley face.),

Mark, don't you have enough problems in your hands? LOL That was great!! I love d it. LOL Thanks

2:05 AM, October 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really brilliant and funny! I really think you should have a jon stewart kind of show for Ethiopians.


10:54 AM, October 14, 2006  

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