January 14, 2009

THE REASON FOR OPTIMISM WAS ALWAYS THAT...:

The optimistic view of Somalia (, 01/14/2009, Foreign Policy)

In many ways, Ethiopia's presence has made Somalia worse, not better. Before the 2006 invasion, the Islamic Courts Union had some measure of control over the country. Yes, there were some unsavory characters in the government, but the moderates arguably had the upper hand.

No longer. When Ethiopia came in, sensible moderates stepped off the political stage, hoping the bide their time before returning to positions in the transitional government. The armed youth movement al Shabab was not so cautious and took the opportunity to impose "order" at the point of a gun all over the country. Nothing emboldens a well-armed insurgency like fighting an unpopular occupying enemy.

As Ethiopia leaves, the insurgency will lose its common enemy. Its popularity and very integrity might fracture. If al Shabab is anything like rebel groups I've reported on, their internal wars are as dramatic as their extrenal street fighting. They often bring themselves down without any help at all. And when an official terrorist organization disintegrates, that's usually a good thing.


...we'd welcome the return of the Islamic Courts.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at January 14, 2009 11:55 AM
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