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June 8, 2006

Somalia: Or why we shouldn't withdraw from Iraq

The present state of things in Somalia makes Iraq seem like a cake-walk:

On Monday June 5th, Islamists said they had taken Mogadishu after weeks of fierce fighting. But conquering Somalia’s capital means relatively little in a country in utter disarray. Since 1991, when a coup toppled a longtime dictator, leading to civil war, Somalia has splintered into bits. In the north, the breakaway region of Somaliland is self-governing and fairly well run. In the south, drought threatens hundreds of thousands of lives and 1.4m people need food aid. Islamist militias recently started battling an alliance of warlords in the south, leading to hundreds of deaths. Meanwhile, isolated 250km inland from Mogadishu in the town of Baidoa, a hapless interim government sits and waits.The Union of Islamic Courts, a loose coalition of groups that proposes Islam as a way to bring unity to Somalia, has apparently taken Mogadishu. It may possibly introduce sharia law. People may not like the idea of the repression and harsh punishments of an Islamic republic. The BBC has reported that huge crowds recently watched as a young man publicly stabbed to death a man who was convicted, by a sharia court, of killing his father. Such rough justice calls to mind the Taliban’s public executions in football stadiums. But Somalis are desperate for order.
So basically Somalia is fucked either way this story actually turns. In the first scenario, Islamists capturing the capital means nothing because the nation has been nothing but a war-torn wasteland after the U.S. abandoned it. In the second scenario, crazy Islamists have taken control of the capital and are looking to set up Taliban Part 2. Sadly, it is probably a vicious mixture of the two that have taken place, and if the Islamists take more control of the nation, things are only bound to get worse.But just when things could get no worse, the CIA has to get involved, and as usual, only make things worse. Apparently, the CIA paid secular warlords in Somalia big money to go after a handful of Al Qaeda targets in the country. But in doing so, the CIA just ended up pushing the Islamists to take control of the country:
Indeed, some of the experts point to the American effort to finance the warlords as one of the factors that led to the resurgence of Islamic militias in the country. They argue that American support for secular warlords, who joined together under the banner of the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism, may have helped to unnerve the Islamic militias and prompted them to launch pre-emptive strikes. The Islamic militias have been routing the warlords, and on Monday they claimed to have taken control of most of the Somali capital.
There are two lessons to be gained from this. First, get rid of the CIA. Seriously, when was the last time it actually got something right? Second, we can't withdraw from Iraq, because this is what we would be looking at (and responsible for) decades after we withdraw. And unlike in the case of Somalia, almost all of Iraq's present problems are entirely our fault, while Somalia's were not (we were intervening to quell troubles independent of us).