Tuesday, June 06, 2006
THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS NOT NECESSARILY MY FRIEND
The recent events in Somalia have been nothing if not confusing. On the one hand you've got the US backed war lord militias who have been like a plague on Somalia for years. On the other hand you have the Islamic Courts and their militias. Now, the Islamic forces have been a somewhat stabilizing force in the face of the deadly chaos of the war lords. But their talk of an Islamic Republic is disturbing.
While the reason for the US backing of the war lords has supposedly been the Islamic forces alleged connections with al queda, my concern is rather with the startling similarity to what is happening in Somalia and what led to the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Chaos and war lordism leading to harsh fascist like Islamic rule.
Chaos or barbarism.
The people of Somalia certainly deserve a better choice. However, in the George Bush like world of "you are either with us or against us" such a choice seems unlikely.
I can't really know if the Islamic Courts are the second coming of the Taliban and their hideous fundamentalist fascist rule, but if that is the case, I would hope that progressives of all stripes have learned by now that WE don't have to choose between George Bush and the rule of fascist (Islamic or otherwise). WE must be about opposing both.
At this point I would draw your attention to the article found on an excellent blog site. The article is entitled "Above and Below: Them, Them, and Us." To read it go to http://threewayfight.blogspot.com/2005/06/above-and-below-them-them-and-us.html
Meanwhile, the following comes from Radio Netherlands.
Somalia, the new Afghanistan?
by Koert Lindijer*
A coalition of militias with links to Islamic courts has taken control of the Somalian capital, Mogadishu. They have driven out the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism, a group of warlords backed by the United States. This constitutes a serious blow to the Americans, and leaves Somalia in danger of falling into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists.
The battle for the Somalian capital has been raging for more than ten years and only now has one group managed to gain control. Initially the fighting was between militias formed on the basis of clan loyalties. Each one controlled a part of the city. In recent years, however, the influence of the warlords has been waning and the Islamic courts have stepped into the resulting power vacuum.
The capture of Mogadishu is a real setback for the United States. US secret agents have been active in Somalia since the 9/11 attacks, and Washington is concerned that the chaos in Somalia provides an ideal breeding ground for international terrorism. The 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were prepared in Mogadishu, as was the attack on an Israeli hotel in Mombasa in late 2002.
Early this year, the then-head of the CIA, Porter Goss, paid a visit to Kenya and apparently also to Somalia. Allegedly, the CIA met the Somalian warlords near Isaley landing strip and handed them hundreds of thousands of dollars plus a list of the names of wanted terrorists. Officially, Washington denies giving the warlords any assistance in their struggle against the Islamic courts. However, last month, in a letter to the Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation, US ambassador William Bellamy wrote:
"It is true the US has encouraged a variety of groups in Somalia, in all corners of the country, and among all clans, to oppose the al-Qaeda presence and reject the Somali militants who shelter and protect these terrorists."
The United States also has 1500 troops based in neighbouring Djibouti, charged with keeping an eye on terrorists in the Horn of Africa.
The Islamic courts were created five years ago and are not based strictly on clan lines. They administer Shari'a law and provide social services including education in a country with no state infrastructure. Some observers believe the recent hostilities show that the courts are coordinating their actions more than before and may be receiving more support from abroad.
So, has Somalia fallen into the hands of fundamentalists and will it soon have a regime comparable to the Taliban in Afghanistan? ThatÂs what is feared in many Western capitals. So far the Islamic courts only hold the city of Mogadishu; outside the capital the country is still split into a multitude of clan-based mini-states where clan elders and businessmen played the leading role.
Traditionally, Somalis have embraced a moderate form of Islam, but 16 years of civil war have made the populace more conservative. After years of terror caused by warlords and politicians, many Somalis have turned to religion for stability, and fundamentalist Islamic beliefs are gaining influence.
The Islamic courts are home to all kinds of believers, including extremists and militants who are prepared to assist international terrorists. Early last year, the 11 Islamic courts in Mogadishu were said to be capable of raising a force of between 1,500 and 5,000 fighters. The Union of Islamic Courts was created two years ago by Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. He claims there are no al-Qaeda supporters in Mogadishu. However, some courts have taken a fundamentalist stance, banning cinemas and video shops.
Adan Hashi Ayro, military leader of the Ifka Halane court, gained a reputation as an extremist last year, when his fighters dug up the graves of Italian colonists in an old cemetery and dumped the remains on the beach. His militia is also said to be responsible for the deaths of several foreigners.