The Future of Somalia
Somalia's future is far from bright. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recently rated Somalia the hungriest country in the world. The FAO found that hungry Somalis were missing 27% of their minimum requirement compared to 26% in Afghanistan, and 27% in Haiti. The average life expectancy is about 45 years of age for men, and 48 for women (BBC). There is no quick answer to the famine, instability, and insecurity. Though Somalia now has its first government in nearly ten years, it was referred to in a recent BBC article as "a collapsing state without a central government." The elected President of Somalia now is Abdiqasim Salad Hassan. President Hassan
The new government
is supposed to lead the nation of seven million people through a transition
period, in hopes of stabilizing itself. Like the assembly, the appointment
of ministers is intended to reflect Somalia's complex clan structure. The
biggest task facing this government is the disarmament of thousands of
gunmen, some loyal to faction leaders who are opposed to the peace process,
and restoring security to the nation. Culture has the capacity and power
to achieve this restoration. Somalia's culture and value systems include
individual dignity, justice, and collective struggle. A worthwhile effort
is completely changing Somali politics, which is yet another goal of the
newly formed government.
Unfortunately, the government does not have legitimacy in the eyes of the warlords, who continue to control much of Somalia including parts of the capital city of Mogadishu. Fighting has continued to rage between the newly established governmental forces and those of the warlords. Interestingly enough, one of the central warlords in this round of clashes is none other then Farrah Aideed's son, Hussein Aideed.
It is because these warlords have gained such power in their national sphere, that it is thought they may be embarking on efforts to extend this sphere internationally. It has been hypothesized that al-Qaeda has used parts of Somalia to train its fighters. The U.S. believes that since Somalia's central government is so week, there is great potential for the country to be used as a refuge Osama Bin-Laden's al-Qaeda network. The focus for the investigation is on alleged connections between al-Qaeda and al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, meaning Islamic Unity. This group was formed in the 1980's by those who were opposed to Siad Barre. It is the United States' contention that al-Itihaad allowed alQaeda to use its bases prior to the 1998 embassy attacks (BBC). To date, the investigation has proven nothing. Why was the U.S. so quick to jump down the throat of Somalia? Probably because, following the fire fight in Mogadishu in 1993 which left 18 Army Rangers dead, the United States continues to demonize this struggling nation.
Because of the
mistakes foreign nations have made throughout history, especially during
the intervention, the ability of Somalia to attempt to slowly overcome
the difficulties amassed on them is nothing short of amazing. Foreign nations
should recognize their part in Somalia's destruction by acknowledging Somalia's
victories and sending aid without their influences, which have clearly
not been beneficial in the past. Instead of continuing to see Somalia as
a "bad guy" or "evil", the U.S. should be trying to help a situation they
worsened by supporting the legitimately elected government. For a
successful government rooted in Somalia's own tribal beliefs will be much
more respected by the people then one established by a foreign nation and
is key to their future.