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The Somalia carousel
by Thanos Kalamidas
2006-12-27 08:07:26
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Somalia’s President Abdullahi Yusuf accused the Islamist militia and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) for close al-Qaeda links, and that there will be no other peace talks as long these links last and the Islamic movement has terrorist’s orientations.

Obviously the situation in Somalia has reached a dead lock with more Somali people trying to escape abroad. From their side the Islamist leaders, with Sheikh Hassan Dahir, deny all the accusations for links with al-Qaeda and focus their menace towards the Ethiopian troops that supposedly came to Somalia to help the government against the terrorists.

From their side, the Ethiopian government denies any involvement in the internal problems of Somalia, denies having army troops inside the country and the only thing they are willing to admit is that there are some Ethiopian army trainers helping the formation and modernization of the Somalia army.

It looks like a carousel with everybody blaming the other and nobody wants to take any responsibility for what’s going on. But even more, I cannot understand what the involvement of Ethiopia in this carousel is; can’t they see that they are inflaming the situation instead of helping? History has taught us that ‘army advisers’ or trainers are a big part of the problem and they can attract a problem.

Russia sent plenty of them to Korea and Afghanistan, USA did the same to start with in Vietnam and often in South America with disastrous results. And one thing is a fact, Ethiopia is definitely not the USA. On the contrary, it is a country that can hardly stand on her own feet without the help of the international community; so why do they get involved and what expertise can they offer?

If Ethiopia thinks that they help a government where the only ties are religion –unfortunately it gets down to religion again – is natural that the other side will ask for help. and are likely get it, from another country with the same religion roots like Yemen, Egypt, Eritrea or Saudi Arabia.

And yes, why the surprise? Al- Qaeda in the their terror strategy have used a lot of conflicts that have religion as part of it, why not use Somalia’s civil war as well to expand their precincts in this undeclared world war. After all, al- Qaeda has been used from everybody and has used everybody the last few years. Americans used them as an excuse to invade Iraq and most likely the Somali government uses them to expand their dictatorial power.

Over the last few days, all the mosques in Somalia read sermons talking about a holy war and that is another message that things have gone beyond any control. The American administration, with its long involvement in Somalia, tried to interfere stating that it was about time for the two sides to start talks, which was something that denied from the UIC straight away with sarcastic comments. The UIC control most of southern Somalia, including the capital Mogadishu since last June, and they somehow feel like holding the power. The weak but internationally recognized government controls only a small area around the city of Baidoa.

I left the UN to last because it seems that like some other issues, any involvement of the UN has led to escalation rather than peace and in this case they seem to doing the same mistakes again by sending peacekeepers to guard the line between UIC army forces and the government in Baidoa, while simultaneously amending the arms embargo. This looks more like throwing water in a fire that started with gasoline; and for the ones who don’t know …nothing happens.

Weapons have been smuggled for years into Somalia and the only thing the UN did was make an arms dealer richer. By stationing peace forces in Somalia between UIC and the government forces, it actually is like taking a place in the conflict instead of forcing the two sides to start talks. The peace forces will only perpetuate the problem and give more excuses to UIC to mistrust any peace effort and in the end the only thing they will manage is to suspend the inevitable which will be the destruction of the whole country and more caravans of refugees.

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