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    To return again to our previou..., 2006-06-06 11:55:47 | Main | Council of Europe, Committee o..., 2006-06-07 12:54:21

    Another successful campaign:

    welcome back to sunny Mogadishu, Somalia:

    US officials have long refused to comment on whether they were paying Somali warlords in the counterterrorism battle. But one US diplomat based in Nairobi, Michael Zorick , was transferred in April to another posting in Chad after internally criticizing such payments, according to Reuters.

    Analysts said yesterday it was too early to assess what remained of US intelligence networks in the aftermath of the apparent Islamist militia takeover of the capital. But several pointed out that almost all of the US-backed warlords had fled Mogadishu, and those who remained would go into hiding to survive.

    ...Baldo, of the International Crisis Group: "a very loose [Islamist] alliance, driven mainly by business imperatives."

    Why'd Zorick leave? Hard to say, email from reporters to his State Dept. address were blocked, with statements to the effect that "free speech is greatly enjoyed within the department" or "if he talks we'll lynch him", but the story should be familiar: the CIA was running our diplomatic policy again and our diplomats, for some strange reason, hate that shit. It also doesn't work terribly well. Now our "allies" in Somalia are lending us a hand by explaining to the world how they were on the CIA's payroll and look where it got them. From the Boston Globes 5/31:

    But diplomats involved in Somalia, including US officials, had said that it was widely known that Zorick had disagreements over policy involving Somalia.

    Analysts say Washington's links with the clan leaders have had the effect of rallying Islamist groups and increasing support for them among Somalis.

    The analysts say it has also strengthened the influential Mogadishu sharia courts against the government [ed. - from today's report: "several outsiders and Somalis were chilled by an Islamic court's death sentence last month in Mogadishu; a teenager stabbed his father's alleged killer to death before a large crowd."].

    The diplomats said Zorick had opposed a US intelligence plan to capture a handful of Al Qaeda suspects believed to be in Somalia, by paying clan leaders there -- among them ministers in the government -- to hunt them down.

    "He felt it was wrong in the sense that it didn't achieve the objectives," the Western diplomat said.

    Zorick was part of the peace process in Kenya to create the Somali government, which was formed in late 2004 in the 14th such attempt since Mohammed Siad Barre was removed in 1991.

    The new administration has made little progress, and stays in the south-central town of Baidoa because it is too weak to move to the capital, Mogadishu.

    Another diplomat, who spoke to Zorick just before he left, said he had grown frustrated that the embassy had often been kept in the dark about operations in Somalia. That had a negative effect on Zorick's work with the government there, the diplomat said.

    Let's clarify what's being fought over here. Somalia, we're told, isn't in any meaningful sense a nation-state. It's not exactly stateless, however. Rather it's an international boundary containing four administrations and a highly contested central region, so it looks something like this [via stratfor.com]:

    Since 1991 that northwest region of Somaliland has been an autonomous, independent, stable region which recently has had monitored, democratic elections. Around 1998 Puntland and Jubaland to the north and south have broken off temporarily and formed their own autonomous administrations. These northern and southern regions, particularly the north, have been doing relatively well, how well on an absolute scale I don't know. That blue area of Bay and Bakool provinces is controlled by the Rahanweyn Resistance Army - one of the oldest militias in Somalia - known lately for beating the shit out of journalists.

    The remaining pink area is what is authentically violent chaos, being fought over by warlord groups only recently unified under CIA tutelage (some analysts ballparked the support at $100-150,000/month, presumably undermining the UN arms embargo) as the so-called "Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism", the Islamic Court Union, and perhaps the "Somali Transitional Government" - the ostensible government of Somalia - to the extent that it has any independent capacity to utilize force.

    The ICU now, after this last push, has control of the capital and some of the surrounding area and towns. They apparently run 11 courts, 10 among these Hawiye clans, under shari'a law. I understand they don't have a policy of beheading thieves, as in a certain close ally of ours, but I'm not entirely clear on the particulars.

    The warlords, meanwhile, have been scattered. The STG is situated about 150 miles away in Baidoa, which has been involved in some sort of internal rivalry that got a number of people killed a year ago between ex-RRA leaders who became ministers in the transition government. Thusly the internationally recognized government of Somalia governs approxiamately nothing, what they controlled before was by virtue of the warlords they just fired.

    The reports say some 300 civillians have been killed in the crossfire of the past couple months. Not to belittle this substantial loss but it is worth comparing this to the 7,000 to 10,000 "CIA officials privately concede that the U.S. military may have killed ... during its engagement" during the space of a few days in 1993. I know Peter Beinhart won't like the idea but perhaps Somalis are more liable to give a shit about how many of eachother they kill than we did attempting to "restore hope" for them.

    To the extent that there's any monopoly on force at all in the pink area then for the present - the US-backed warlords will no doubt to be reorganized and brought back into the conflict unless this administration could somehow be sufficiently embarassed by this latest failure into inaction - it belongs to the array of forces organized by the ICU, which I suppose we're to understand is an incredible risk to our security as Americans and so you should be deathly afraid: please remember to wear your expression of mock horror as you meet its leader. In my uninformed judgement: on a scale of 5 I give him 3 or 4 JerryFalwells but only 1.5 to 2 PatRobertsons. In any case acting like chickenshits with madcow over the nigh-inevitable results of our past and present policies is getting us absolutely nowhere and it's about time we bucked the fuck up about it.

    update: the Somalia experts are kicking in, arguing that the ICU guys aren't bad at all compared to the warlords, and we may have inadvertently done a great thing for Somalia:

    HERMAN COHEN: Because the warlords have caused tremendous hardship. They have roadblocks, shoot-outs, exactions. People were permanently insecure under the warlords, and it's very important to keep those warlords from coming back into Mogadishu.

    ABDI SAMATAR: I think Herman Cohen is absolutely right. It's great news, not only for Somalis, but for the international community, that the warlords are out and hopefully will remain outside of the city and the country....

    Via Eric Umansky.

    "Some experts" in other reports are saying that our support for the warlords critically weakened them, not least by facillitating the organization of a counter-force because of widespread anti-Americanism. We should all give ourselves a pat on the back for the first successful utilization of our newfound, primary source of global influence: reverse psychology.

    One of the next testing grounds for this newfound superpower that suggests itself would be Egypt, where democracy advocates keep getting beaten because our verbal and moral support for their campaign makes their loyalties suspect. We need to start explaining how we think democracy is the worst possible outcome in Egypt and how we want Mubarak to remain president for life - you know, just explain our actual policy - and then we could sit back and watch democracy flourish.


:: posted by buermann @ 2006-06-06 16:51:20 CST | link





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