February 26, 2012

THERE IS NO SOMALIA:

A ray of hope: International plans to help Somalis create regional governments are the best news in years for the miserable country (The Economist, Feb 25th 2012)

An initiative launched at an international conference in London on February 23rd could give Somalis new hope. Attended by Hillary Clinton, America's secretary of state, and senior representatives from 40 countries, it is the first push on this scale. The British, prime movers of the event, are pursuing a fresh diplomatic approach. Instead of trying to boost the "transitional federal government" in the capital, Mogadishu, the conference participants--foreign and Somali--say they will accept that the country is, for the time being, irretrievably broken into five or six zones of influence. Rather than put their faith in the feeble internationally recognised government, whose writ extends barely beyond Mogadishu, in the vain belief that it can bludgeon the rest of the country into submission, the leaders of the country's various fiefs have pledged to develop a more or less federal system.

The plan's timing is propitious, as the Shabab militia, which has for the past few years controlled the biggest swathe of Somalia, mainly in the country's south and centre, has recently lost ground and popularity. Ethiopian and Kenyan forces, with logistical backing from the Americans, French and British, have squeezed it in a pincer movement from the west and south. Moreover, the Shabab failed to feed the people in its zone of influence during last year's terrible drought. The Shabab's refusal to allow Western agencies such as Oxfam and the International Committee of the Red Cross into its territory is said to have alienated many of its former supporters.

Why even retain a federal fiction?
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Posted by at February 26, 2012 7:42 AM
  

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