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Monday, 26 January 2009

A state of perpetual instability

Put a semi-arid country with about 2% arable land together with clan warfare and add a sprinkle of economic uncertainty in the form of a transformation from 'Scientific Socialism' to a free market system and allow it to simmer with heat generated from European colonialism.

Add a generous helping of domestic land and water disputes whipped up with AK-47s and RPGs. Do not under any circumstance introduce education or guidelines on concepts of free market economy and allow narcotics trade and sea piracy ingredients to mingle with the other flavors.

And after 2500 years in the oven, 'hey presto'! You have Somalia.

It is a near impossibility to offer some kind of clarity on today's Somalia. The country has lurched from ineffectual, externally recognized governing authorities to strong domestically recognized ruling apparatuses since gaining its independence from Britain in 1960.

The last internationally recognized Somali president, Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed, announced his resignation On December 29, 2008. In his speech, broadcast on national radio, Yusuf expressed regret at having failed to end a seventeen-year conflict in the country.

But his self-declared failure was to a large extent caused by the interference of the US.

We are not going to rush into blaming the US for all of Somalia's woes here. Instead, we attempt to argue for a governing system that can end centuries of clan warfare.

To place Somalia under a unified umbrella of central governance, an ideology or a doctrine must be found that unites all the different clans and their political and military offshoots. With the collapse of the Cold War, socialism has been dismissed as a workable option. The Somali brand of free market Capitalism is also considered a very dangerous breed by its longsuffering neighbors. At the same time Somalia's neighboring countries are viewed with the utmost suspicion by the Somali public and are thus incapable of exercising any type of authority in Somalia: A fact clearly demonstrated by the recent departure of Ethiopian forces.

The Islamophobic strategic outlook of the United States obstructs the powerful Union of Islamic Courts (ICU) candidacy for bringing stability to Somalia. At the same time, however, any political ruling apparatus in the country must be able to overcome the challenge of fragmented, clan-based governments.

So whether the US likes it or not, one immediate workable option to unite Somalia under the comprehensive rule of law and order is for the ICU to prevail. The only period of relative peace and unity observed since 1993 took place under ICU rule but sadly a near paranoid Bush administration adopted policies to put an end to the brief affair.

Meanwhile, other previously unknown groups are popping up and demand legitimacy and a voice in Somali affairs. The situation is about to get out of hand with sporadic clashes developing into large-scale military encounters between the rival groups.

The 10.7 million people living in Somalia are almost entirely Muslims. The Western and Eastern induced political ideologies have proved completely worthless in the running of the country. Somalia requires a brand of central governance that can reconcile all the feuding clans. And an all encompassing Islamic democracy may be able to provide the answers.

The meddling US is aware that the ICU may very well have the ability to adequately rule Somalia. The ICU, however, steadfastly refuses to take its cue from America as in order to retain its popular credibility, the ICU is forced to keep its distance with all foreign players in the region.

But the US is not singled out for rejection in anyway.

Some say in the end, and for the sake of stability, the US will have to make allowances for the ICU's precarious position in Somalia. However, any political union with aspirations of setting up a central government must be seen as operating independently of foreign intrigue.

In the meantime, America does not seem in all that much of a hurry. The US has clearly demonstrated through its actions that there is still ample profit to be made from Somalia's state of perpetual instability.