West Must Save the Failed State of Somalia

West Must Save the Failed State of Somalia

Dean Rusk, the former US Secretary of State, observed that power tends to corrupt, but loss of power corrupts absolutely. The recent history of Somalia is the proof. The country epitomises the concept of a failed state. Since the US and UN abandoned a humanitarian mission in 1995, Somalia has been locked in lawlessness and penury.

Somalia now risks becoming a haven for radical Islamists. Its condition matters for its people, and for Western security too. As reported on page 34 and for the next two days, Somalia’s problems are destabilising the region, particularly at sea, and are causing new problems for the Somali diaspora in the UK.

Western policy towards Somalia has a chequered history. Somalia’s location in the Horn of Africa made it a site of superpower rivalry. America gave aid to the wretched regime of General Siad Barre, but abandoned support when the Cold War ended. The US Embassy was evacuated in 1991, as rebels launched an assault on Mogadishu, the capital. For two years Somalia was in anarchy as warlords battled for control. About 300,000 people perished from famine.

The US and the UN mounted a noble rescue mission. US troops entered the country to open transport routes for the distribution of food. Tragically, both were then drawn into the warlords’ conflicts. Bandits killed 24 Pakistani soldiers serving under UN command. The US withdrew after 18 of its troops were killed in what became known as Black Hawk Down.

After the bombing by al-Qaeda of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, three of the terrorists found sanctuary with Islamist groups in Somalia. But in the decade succeeding those outrages, a not-so-benign neglect has characterised Western diplomacy towards the country — save for one ill-fated decision.

The Islamic Courts Union, with a radical Islamist wing called al-Shabaab (the Youth), emerged in 2006. The Courts rebuffed the warlords; the radicals imposed repression. The perceived similarities to the Taleban were too close for the US to countenance. The Bush Administration supported the warlords and then conspicuously failed to distance itself from an intervention by Ethiopia to establish a transitional government.

That was a misreading of the politics of Somalia. Ethiopia’s invasion merely stimulated fresh violence. Al-Shabaab presented itself as a nationalist force rather than a ferocious theocratic one. President Bush later implicitly acknowledged the mistakes of US policy when he supported a Transitional Federal Government headed by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, one of the Islamic Court leaders whom the US had opposed.

The tragic error lay not in opposing radical Islam but in assuming that Somalia was more like Afghanistan than Iraq. Jihadism in Iraq was rebuffed when US strategy belatedly set about splitting Islamic movements. In Somalia, Islamist militancy has by contrast been strengthened.

Lawlessness has intensified, not least in piracy in the surrounding sea lanes. Somalis inside the country and in refugee populations outside it are the victims of nearly two decades of anarchy and banditry. Western policy rightly focuses on the threats to security in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Yet Somalia is a failed state that is breeding terrorism, violence and banditry that pose a real threat far beyond its borders.

 

 

Order By:

Would you like to post a comment? Please register or log in

function blogURL(bUrls) { window.location=bUrls; } fieldset { float:left; width:165px; border:0px; margin:0px; padding:0px; } OUR COLUMNISTS

Columnists

Select David Aaronovitch Simon Barnes Camilla Cavendish Jeremy Clarkson Giles Coren Robert Crampton Daniel Finkelstein Michael Gove Anatole Kaletsky India Knight Dominic Lawson Leo Lewis Rod Liddle Magnus Linklater Ben MacIntyre Bronwen Maddox Minette Marrin Carol Midgley Caitlin Moran Richard Morrison Matthew Parris Michael Portillo Libby Purves William Rees-Mogg Melanie Reid Peter Riddell Hugo Rifkind Sathnam Sanghera Frank Skinner Graham Stewart Andrew Sullivan Rachel Sylvester Janice Turner Guest contributors

Blogs

Select Alpha Mummy Archive Blog David Aaronovitch Asia Exile Baby Barista Blockbuster Buzz Gerard Baker Charles Bremner Big Brother Mary Beard Comment Central Consumer Central Cricket Blog Eco Worrier Faith Central Fashion Formula One Ruth Gledhill Inside Iraq Ariel Leve India Knight Money Rafael Nadal News Blog William Rees-Mogg Rugby Sinofile Mick Smith Sports Commentary Irwin Stelzer Peter Stothard Surf Nation Technology Travel Urban dirt Video Wimbledon

 

Tools and Services Credit Clinic Restaurant Booking Encounters Business City Guides Financial Brochures Car Route Planner Books

Cartoon More cartoons Times Letters

Letters for publication on the letters page of The Times should be emailed here. Letters should include an address and daytime telephone number.

Sunday Times Letters

Letters for publication on the letters page of The Sunday Times should be emailed here or posted to us at 1, Pennington St, London E98 1ST. Fax: 020 7782 5454

Eternal life in just four, simple steps? Comment Central Feedback Sally Baker

Our Feedback Editor answers your queries

MOST READ MOST COMMENTED MOST CURIOUS Most Read Skip Most Read Today Brittany Murphy 'was on prescription drugs' The 50 Biggest Movies of 2009 Actress Brittany Murphy dies of heart attack... Thousands face tunnel chaos as bad weather... MOST COMMENTED Skip Editor's Pick Today if(isArticle == "true" && articleHeadlines.length!=0){ for(var j=0; j=45){ headline = articleHeadlines[j].substring(0,44)+"..."; } document.write(""+headline +""); } }else{ fSubmitMostCommented('http://community.timesonline.co.uk/ver1.0/Direct/Process'); } MOST CURIOUS Skip Most Curious Today GCSE pupils tune in to rock and rap to learn... Miracle of Sabi the Australian sniffer hound... Nutritionist's cocktail of Christmas cheer... Eurostar blames 'fluffy' snow for weekend... Focus Zone Need to Know:

Industry sectors news at a glance. Interactive heatmap, video and podcast

Business Travel:

Everything the Business Traveller needs to know to make a better trip

Winter Sports:

Get ready for the winter sports season, with our resort guides and snow reports

Mapping Business:

We are backing British business, what is the confidence of the nation and what businesses are succeeding?

The Future of Energy:

Growing demand for energy, oil that is harder to reach and the rise of carbon dioxide emissions. We examine the energy challenge

Europe by Train:

With rail travel in Europe on the rise, we review the benefits of travelling by train

My Dinner Party:

In this special section we explore new food trends to help improve your dinner party and impress guests

More reports:

Enjoy further reading from Travel to Fashion, Business to Sport, discover more

Need to Know Business Travel Winter Sports Mapping Business The Future of Energy Europe by Train My Dinner Party More reports Find an IFA

Find a local independent financial advisor

Shall we dance?

Join the Times Dance for Fitness Group today

Announcements

Search The Times Births, Marriages & Deaths

Crossword Club

Sign up today or try one of our free demo crosswords

Births, deaths, marriages

Place your announcement

Online Sudoku with daily prizes Find a Lawyer

Cut your legal costs

Classifieds  Cars Jobs Property Travel Cars Skip Cars of the Week Ferrari F355 F1

1998 £47,955

Lamborghini Gallardo

2004 £56,950 Essex

Apply for car finance?

Check your free Experian credit report before applying

Great car insurance deals online

Car Insurance

Search for more cars and bikes Jobs Skip Jobs of the Week Director of Operations – UK

£100,000 Barnardos UK

Law Commissioner for England and Wales

£123,460 pa The Law Commission London

Job Opportunities Available

Hampshire County Council

Global Sponsorship Executive

Competitive + bonus + benefits Manchester United Central London

Search more Jobs Properties Luxury development in the heart of Battersea.

Moments from Battersea Park.

Double-fronted 4 bed, 4 reception house near Eltham Palace.

For sale with Winkworth

Eager to get on the property ladder?

Find out about shared ownership.

Looking for a Mortgage?

See your free Experian credit report beforehand

Search for more properties Holidays Skip Travel of the Week Hong Kong, Bangkok, Phuket & Dubai from only £1199!

Includes flights, accommodation with room upgrades, transfers city tours in Hong Kong and Bangkok. PremierHolidays.co.uk

Ski Weekend Specialists since 1986

For your�ultimate tailor-made ski holiday, click here

Great Travel Insurance

Get covered on your travels with a superb range of policies at great prices. Visit InsureandGo.com

Hawaii�free nights,�breakfasts, upgrades & more!

Choose from the beautiful landscape and tranquil beaches of Oahu, Kauai, Maui & Big Island.

Search for more holidays Place your advert now

Search Ad Reference:

Where am I?

Home Comment Leading Articles Contact us Back to top NewsCommentBusinessMoneySportLife & StyleTravelDrivingArts & EntsArchive Times Online Times Archive Google TLS Archive

 

Contact our advertising team for advertising and sponsorship in Times Online, The Times and The Sunday Times, or place your advertisement.

 

Times Online Services: Dating | Jobs | Property Search | Used Cars | Holidays | Births, Marriages, Deaths | Subscriptions | E-paper

News International associated websites: Globrix Property Search | Milkround

 

Copyright 2009 Times Newspapers Ltd.

This service is provided on Times Newspapers' standard Terms and Conditions. Please read our Privacy Policy.To inquire about a licence to reproduce material from Times Online, The Times or The Sunday Times, click here.This website is published by a member of the News International Group. News International Limited, 1 Virginia St, London E98 1XY, is the holding company for the News International group and is registered in England No 81701. VAT number GB 243 8054 69.

 

 

 

Blogs

Tools and Services Credit Clinic Restaurant Booking Encounters Business City Guides Financial Brochures Car Route Planner Books

Letters for publication on the letters page of The Times should be emailed here. Letters should include an address and daytime telephone number.

Letters for publication on the letters page of The Sunday Times should be emailed here or posted to us at 1, Pennington St, London E98 1ST. Fax: 020 7782 5454

Our Feedback Editor answers your queries

Industry sectors news at a glance. Interactive heatmap, video and podcast

Everything the Business Traveller needs to know to make a better trip

Get ready for the winter sports season, with our resort guides and snow reports

We are backing British business, what is the confidence of the nation and what businesses are succeeding?

Growing demand for energy, oil that is harder to reach and the rise of carbon dioxide emissions. We examine the energy challenge

With rail travel in Europe on the rise, we review the benefits of travelling by train

In this special section we explore new food trends to help improve your dinner party and impress guests

Enjoy further reading from Travel to Fashion, Business to Sport, discover more

Find a local independent financial advisor

Read Full Article »
Comment
Show commentsHide Comments

Related Articles