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Somalia: Time to Pay Attention

The United States has contributed to the mess in Somalia by failing to grasp the nuances of the Muslim world.

By Frankie Martin

While the world looks elsewhere, Somalia is in flames. The nation just topped a list of the world’s most unstable countries by Foreign Policy magazine, and the United Nations has declared the humanitarian situation there “worse than Darfur.”

In the next three months the number of people requiring immediate food aid will reach 3.5 million. Over one million refugees have fled their homes. Due to a raging insurgency against the current transitional government – which has support from both the West and Ethiopia – Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, has earned the nickname, “Baghdad on the sea.”

In Somalia, there are no diplomatic superstars like Condoleezza Rice or Kofi Annan, who rushed to Kenya to settle its election crisis; there are no celebrities like Mia Farrow or Jim Carrey to urge international action and awareness as they did in Sudan and Burma.

Instead, Somalia’s crisis has elicited a collective yawn of indifference. Just mentioning the country’s name is enough to cause even the most dedicated diplomat or aid worker to throw up their hands in desperation.

Ironically, unlike the above conflicts, the current crisis in Somalia has developed in part due to America’s "war on terror" and failure to grasp some of the nuances of Islam.

The Muslim world is not a monolith; there is an ongoing struggle among Muslims with differing interpretations of the religion. Somalia is a traditionally Sufi country – the mystic, open form of Islam distinct from more conservative interpretations as those seen in places like Saudi Arabia.

But in Somalia, a more conservative movement developed under the secular dictatorship of President Siad Barre and during the anarchy that followed his ouster in 1991. The resulting Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) implemented Shari’a law, and although its stricter tenants were opposed by many Somalis, the grassroots movement gained strength because people sought order and justice in a country marred by starvation, warlord violence, and tribal conflict.

Despite internal differences in the interpretation of Islam, the UIC created a state of relative stability that led to the return of Somali businesses, united conflicting tribes and ended piracy off Somalia’s perilous shores.

But the ascension of the UIC worried the United States, which believed the group was sheltering Al-Qaeda members seeking a safe haven in Somalia. The United States intervened by backing secular warlords – reportedly some of the same individuals it had fought during 1993’s “Black Hawk Down” incident – against the UIC, strengthening, rather than isolating, extremism in Somalia. Despite their ample firepower, the warlords were defeated by the UIC in mid-2006.

In December 2006, UIC extremists threatened Somalia’s traditional archrival Ethiopia, which they accused of intervening in Somali affairs. Already concerned the UIC would support a domestic ethnic Somali insurgency, Ethiopia invaded. The United States backed Ethiopia’s invasion and its ensuing occupation with intelligence, air strikes, Special Forces, and rendition of terror suspects to Guantanamo Bay.

An Iraq-style insurgency soon began inside Somalia, mainly drawn from UIC elements but also members of the Hawiye clan, the tribal base of the UIC. These tribesmen believe the United States and Ethiopians are attacking them by supporting the Somali transitional government, run largely by tribal rivals the Daarood. Because they are Muslim, they believe Islam is under attack and seek to defend it.

Somalia faces many profound challenges, but a recent ceasefire – which calls for an end to the insurgency ahead of an eventual Ethiopian troop withdrawal in favor of U.N. troops – has brought some hope.

The recent momentum in Somalia for a shift to religious conservatism – and sometimes militant extremism – mirrors similar shifts around the Muslim world. However, with quick and responsible action, the United States can still help shift it back.

The United States should first pressure Ethiopia to withdraw and bring all Somali factions to the negotiating table.

It can also work within traditional tribal structures to reach out to Somalia’s people, effect political change and distribute aid. By reaching out to Somali moderates who would be happy to challenge the extremists themselves, and funding development programs that show a renewed respect for local customs and religion, the United States can help swing the pendulum away from extremists who preach that Islam is under attack from the West.

To do this, the United States must immediately change a failed policy. Instead of effectively fighting those individuals who wish America harm, it has taken on the Somali people. The United States should learn from its disasters in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan that using force to myopically crush “terrorists” at the expense of entire populations only strengthens extremists.

These days any attention given to Somalia is encouraging. But to create a stable society that would alleviate the suffering of Somalis and address Western security concerns, something more is required: a true understanding of what has gone wrong and the will to effect positive change.

Frankie Martin is Ibn Khaldun Chair Research Fellow at American University’s School of International Service in Washington, DC. He did field work among Somalis in Kenya for the book Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization by Akbar Ahmed (Brookings, 2007). This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

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Comments (60)


To Dave who claims charity workers, soldiers and diplomats are cockroaches - blanket ignorance is just boring. Thanks for the enlightening and unnecessary history lesson. Either you are a hypocrite or just trying to sound smart and elitist. So glad you you know to look up history lessons on Wikipedia . . .

mulki ga'al:

Somalia needs to stop bickering about clans and all those nonsense that they are wasting their time with it. Somalia need a Hero and an Intellectual who gives time and effort of whats Important to the facts than fictions Ok, now we need someone who puts their life ahead of personal Interest or NGO B.S. which I believe is for their own benefit instead of the needy ones.
Am embarrassed to dont have an answer why we kill our most Intellectual so we can guided by the ignorants with guns. Please lets put our thoughts into something that can benefit, with these unfortunate somali who are victim of Clan B.S. Please someone a lot of us can change this misfortune lets do something if any.

Anju Chandel:

The African continent is a peculiar case in point. Its problems are so profound that only very high level of international intervention will be able to bring about immediate stoppage to all the ongoing chaos. Most of the African countries are continuing to indulge into civil wars and ethnic / religious conflicts. That is mainly because their attitude and practices are still predominantly tribal. And, therefore, they are highly prone to getting manipulated - by Africans and outsiders as well.

The African Union needs to take the main lead in ensuring sustainable peace and prosperity in the continent - of course with the support of the international community.


Somalia will come out of this and will come out strong way. Ethiopia is our big brother and we are happy with it.


There are a lot of great people trapped in Somalia that do not have an ounce of hope or confidence in anyone helping them. It's good to see that not every journalist has forgotten this place. The US is definitely not going to fix this country's problems. Sure we can argue about forming a "committee", but at this point all we can do is pray for a nation that has millions starving and hope and see if Aid can still be provided.

Buush Mohamed:

The world has lost the greatest opportunity to stabilize somalia, Ethiopia as brutal it is, has the support of America that any thing Islamic is taken as aterrorist haven, the reality is that there are no radicals in Somalia that was before the invasion of Ethiopia and US but now the radicals have gained alot ground, the thought of Islam is under attack has taken root, what will the west do to remove that perception after the ill fated war that destroyed the livelyhoods of millions of Somalis, the opprtunity is still available, the west should tell Zenawi to pull out of Somalia, he should be held accountable for the Millions he has turned there lively hoods upside down both in Somalia and Ethiopia, only then shall we trust the west is intrested in justice and democracy, do to Zenawi what you are doing to Albashir.

chiek anta diop:

read chiek anta diops books..


Do you know Chiekh Anta Diop? read his books


No need to talk much about what is happening in somalia ..anyway every body can say what he wants but the reality is Somalia Is Somalia and it is for Somali people..
Somalis doesnot need any help from any one who ever (say it US,UN etc..) and we can leave peacfully and in stable state and we shown the world that in the golden period of (ICU)
So every one put your hands off somalia
Somalia for ever


Somalia is in this current state because Somalis can not manage themselves. He who can not control himself will be controlled. Somalis must learn to respect leadership and learn to be self reliant. When Somalis change then Somalia will change too. It is very easy to blame this and that rather than fix the problem. God bless Somalia

Mohamed-Greater_Somalia for life:

"Frankie Martin"
Iam surprised and shocked by the solutions that Frankie Martin suggested could solve the somali problems. i should be honest to say that i admire your knowledge of the Somali people But i also see your shallow thinking abouot how to solve these problems.
Clanism, is of course a problem to all nomads but that does not mean it is a threat to our co-existence.The clan issue has been exploited by those pple who wanted to exploit the somali resource for their use or at least wanted to "share" resource with us.
the only solution is if the west and all outsiders can stop mingling with our affairs and leave us to solve our problems.
The worst case scenario would be thinking of dividing the somali pple. The European colonizers/imperialists did that long ago and felt that they will reduce somali power coming into in the horn but we know that it did not work. what is power for us as somalis is partnering and trading with the rest of the world in our terms or at least on equal terms but not stooping toolow to let other exploit our resource for nothing. this is what most of other africans face now and you know that somalis as nomads they are dont accept that.
let the somali problems be solved by themselves in eir own way.


When the ICU was in charge back in 2006, the Somali cities started to become safer and people started living a normal life. Then came the wasteland (Ethiopia) who have nothing better to do than invade a soverign country rather than feed its hungry people created a mess. Its soliders raped and killed hundereds of Somali women as documented by HRW. This problem would be resolved when the Somali's work together and kick out the Ethiopian soliders out of their country once for all. Truct me Ethiopia has learned its lesson and it is trying to find a face saving exit strategy.


When the ICU was in charge back in 2006, the Somali cities started to become safer and people started living a normal life. Then came the wasteland (Ethiopia) who have nothing better to do than invade a soverign country rather than feed its hungry people created a mess. Its soliders raped and killed hundereds of Somali women as documented by HRW. This problem would be resolved when the Somali's work together and kick out the Ethiopian soliders out of their country once for all. Truct me Ethiopia has learned its lesson and it is trying to find a face saving exit strategy.


Here every one talks about Somalia, it seems you want to help somalia but no one will trust you, we as Somalis have got a lot of experiences from your past activities, what happened to ICU the islamic courts who have restored every hope for their peaple, you simply said they may be hosting Alqaeda and that was with out prove, so it's high time to let somalis govern their affairs and to stop your intervention, if you don't we just wait our fate but not with a closed hands.


Here every one talks about Somalia, it seems you want to help somalia but no one will trust you, we as Somalis have got a lot of experiences from your past activities, what happened to ICU the islamic courts who have restored every hope for their peaple, you simply said they may be hosting Alqaeda and that was with out prove, so it's high time to let somalis govern their affairs and to stop your intervention, if you don't we just wait our fate but not with a closed hands.


Here every one talks about Somalia, it seems you want to help somalia but no one will trust you, we as Somalis have got a lot of experiences from your past activities, what happened to ICU the islamic courts who have restored every hope for their peaple, you simply said they may be hosting Alqaeda and that was with out prove, so it's high time to let somalis govern their affairs and to stop your intervention, if you don't we just wait our fate but not with a closed hands.


Here every one talks about Somalia, it seems you want to help somalia but no one will trust you, we as Somalis have got a lot of experiences from your past activities, what happened to ICU the islamic courts who have restored every hope for their peaple, you simply said they may be hosting Alqaeda and that was with out prove, so it's high time to let somalis govern their affairs and to stop your intervention, if you don't we just wait our fate but not with a closed hands.


I got too much time... anyways

This guy is insightful, take care of yourself

Hassan, A:

The world has a short memory it would seem. The perpetual wariors in Mogadishu said that the Americans must withdraw from Somalia; American Operation Restore Hope did leave, then what happened?: more chaos and bloodshed. They said that the Pakistanis should leave. Pakistan did leave, then what happened?: the continuation of the carnage. They said the United Nations forces UNISOM should leave Somalia and Mr. Boutrus Ghali had to duck gun fire to visit Mogadishu. The UN did leave Somalia, then what happened?: slow genecide as one African President put it. Now they say AMISOM, Ethiopia and the US must leave SOmalia. Does it take a rocket scientist to understand what would happen the minute they leave Somalia?

the above sequence is very telling and an obvious trend can be deduced from this. Pundits like Mr. Frankie Martin are part of the buzzle here because they think they can understand the brutal world of terrorism with a bleeding heart. It doesn't cutat all, Mr. Martin. Yes Somalis as a nation are really suffering and one wishes that a big brother would emerge for them from the maze of the international community. However, leaving Somalia for the scavenging wild dogs would only increase the suffering of the people. Falling for that line of argument is naive and it doesn't ultimately help anybody. Terrorism would be on the rise and the suffering of the people will increase. Infact these rogue entities are counting on the eventual withdrawal of the world from Somalia because deep down they believe that America has no stomach for the continuation of hostilities in SOmalia, as it were. These new insights of Mr Martin to them sybolize the begining of the end of fight againt terror in Somalia. I am sure it would embolden them and they will increase their campaign these days to a new level.

America should understand that they are dealing with a delusional group who would want to get away with criminality and terror. Just like any criminals at lose, they would want to further the time-lag between committing a crime and getting arrested for it; and ideally forever!! A fighting Marine in Somalia is more helpful to us than a wishy-washy pundit in Washington DC. SOmetime it strikes me that maybe Mr. Martin is doing this as it relates to the current American Presidential Election.

I admit it is counter-intuitive, but you are being cruel to poor Somalis in your self-serving partisan analysis of the crisis of Somalia. Gathering your facts on Somalia from the Somali refugess in Kenya is just like gathering the facts of facts of Cuba from the Cuban refugees in Flodia. It is bound to be faulty.

I have been observing and working with the crisis of Somalia for over two decades now. My nutshell advise to the world is: always take the argument of these ever changing wariors in Mogadishu with a grain of salt. I would say the blood-diamond hunters of RUF in Siera Leon and the Terror-Dollar hunters of Islamic Courts Union in Mogadishu are inherently the same. They are both heartless greedy killers and shame to humanity.

Hassan, A.


Oh it is amazing to see the cockroaches come out to claim it is not America's fault. All those that claim to be soldiers, diplomats and charity workers, the least they can do is at least know some of the history of the Horn. You will find after the waning power of the colonialists Italy and England after world war II, it is America inspite of the protestation of Britain that the decision was made to give Ogaden predominantly populated by Somalis was given to Ethiopia. Not to mention America arming Ethiopia to the teeth including the first Supersonic Jet fighter in Africa. When Ethiopia sided with Russia in the 70's and kicked America out, America was not hesitant to arm Siad Barre to the teeth until his fall in 1991. So how is turning the whole of Horn Africa to arms dump not your fault?
In this round you are even arming and financing the very people that dragged the American ranger's bodies to fight yet another enemy ?


My advice to Somalis who posted their comments
-Although US, Ethiopian regime and other external powers can partly be blamed for suffering in Somalia,but main factor and the underlying-causes come from Somalis themselves.
-If you are really sincer about your devotion to you country, stop talking and act accordingly to regain your dignity by stoping killing each other, forgiving and building your country.
-Governments are not charitable organizations-Ethiopia,USA, Eritrea, Yemen, or even Djibouti are involved in Somalia for their own national and security interests.


Wow a huge news about the Somalis! We already have enough with the ones in London eating hedge and banana in our RSL clubs.


Dont worry much about ethiopia, they know how to manage...poverty they know tel them how to be rich not how to devide or how they are enemy of others. Somalia can be best friends in future...dont ever come with vision of islamisim or any sort of that hidden ambition. Ethiopia has warrior God and guard Angels around and always. Dont touch you will not be touched. Dont come with somebodies mission, who weighed the crash of Bagdad or Darfur to say less than in Somalia...always worst outlooks about that poor nation...she is economically poor morally richest


Frankie Martin

1. Somalia and Western world misunderstood of each other because basically Somali leaders and largely Somali civilians are nationalists or patriotic, and because of Somali nomadic roots they simply do not understand the need of sharing resources with the rest of the world. But they see as a threat when Western governments demand investments or natural resources exploitation or even extraction. And this is why you can not find any assets in Somali which is own by nonSomalian but in fact during the Mohamed Siad Barres’ government’s time, foreign visitors and specially white visitors use to have government minders unlike any other African country. In contrast, countries like Somali neighbour Kenya, all the major businesses belong to Westerners for example Barclays Bank plc was established in Kenya in 1916 and operate continuously and even more it is currently the most profitable business in Kenya. Whereas, in Somalia the Italians even took the rail lines with them after Somali leaders at the time refused to give them any say in the country after the independence day. And simply this is why you see Kenyans get helped by Westerner during their crisis after the election in early 2008.

2. Secondly, the difference between Somalia and Ethiopia is historical but it can be solved, if only Ethiopia can peacefully solve its problem with Ogaden. Because Ogaden people are ethnically Somalia and if they have a problem with Ethiopian ruling/authority all Somalis will have a problem with Ethiopia.

3. My third point of view is this, it seems many writers including F. Martin either ignore or do not give merit to the fact that Ethiopian was already in Somalia when the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) come to exist in Somalia and most importantly American special services were training them in Camp Hurso and these following articles will give the fact about it. Please have a look at them: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bittermonk/sets/72057594143145756/

4. Finally, as F. Martin rightly say in his article Somalis are different from any other Muslim country and that is why you find many Somalis in places like Uganda all the way to South Africa than you can find in Sudan or in Egypt. Similarly, ICU members went to Eritrea instead of Sudan or Djibouti. Indeed, ICU represent Somalis generally, unlike the puppets endorsed by Melez and if your in doubt please read this article from Western journalist. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/moslive/article-1020934/The-terror-Tescos-finest--forklift-driver-Leicester-Somalias-feared-general.html

Somali Boy:

Ethiopia had a dream to occupy Somalia one time and hand pick some leaders working for its wills than the somalis.

In Dec. 2006, the dream came true, but seem a failed dream.
Now Ethiopians want to dream another time, so that they can safely withdraw from Somalia aftre failing to occupy, then this dreat faced challenges.

there is a Somali wisdom which says (If you want to dream, you must sleep first).

Now Ethiopians are not able to sleep, so how can they dream.

I wish some people who commented here had shown their grudges against the Somali people, but Somalis are in trouble and wait the solution but Ethiopia is waiting the trouble and will be in blocks than now.

when ever a Somali mother cries in Mogadishu, Ethiopian mother is also crying in Ethiopia, because they are also killed with out wills from god.


What a shame that the West turn a bind eye to Somalia in the name of fighting terro groups!

Mualimu A. Ali - Somalia:

Security and stability in Somalia can be restored only through strong military intervention in Somalia that doesn't like UNISOM in 1992-1995.

Peace making military intervention in Somalia is the only means to get ride of the ring-leaders of disorder and chaos in Somalia (ICU, AL-Shabab, Warlords and Clan-lords).

The suffering of current Somali people can be alleviated through forcible restoration of law and order given that the functions who are against the current administration will only convinced peace if the administration of the country is left for them.

ogaden man :

its a shame what is happening in somali the dirty ethiopians have kept the somalis in the Ogaden region under oppression for many years now its somalia...

America once again created this problem this tiime its Ethiopia who is facing the damages


Why don't you all accept Somalia as is. Don't act like you don't know a hilly-billy family around.
Stop talking about it.


Countries like Ethiopa and Somalia will go through decades of poverty, famine, lawlessness, and genocide, regardless of what the United States does. If the United States tries to help, then they will be blamed for the inevitable death and destruction that would have occurred regardless.

Bottom line - America should stay out of Ethiopa, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., etc. Let the chips fall where they may. I, as an American, am tired of being blamed for trying to help. Africa and the Middle East can figure things out for themselves as far as I'm concerned.


Somalia will remain Somalia and will be broken down into regions. The best way to solve the terrorism crisis and so called Islamic court's violence is to help the TFG milatarily. Let me remind my American friends that those drugged our American Soldiers in 1993 in Mogadishu are the now Islamic Courts Union and Al-Shabab Terrorists, they are the blood suckers of the Somalis changing colors since 1991. In 1991 they were behind tumbling the Somali Government and the Somali Nation Hidding behind rebel group called United Somali Congress (USC). This group USC consisted of Al-Itihad Islamiah and other terrorist group, who destroyed the Somali Government back then. Their main agenda was to create an extremist government just like the TALIBAN of Afganistan. Despite majority of Somalis do not allign themselves with radicalism, this group were buiding MADRASSAS and Radicalism Schools across Somalia and in particular Mogadishu since 1991. This Group who are now called Islamic Courts and AL-Shabab need to be stopped right now. With the help of Ethiopia, Kenya, USA, and all peace loving nations need to support the Somali government (TFG) so the TFG can eliminate these terrorists. Otherwise, these terrorists will take over the whole Horn Africa region and these terrorists will spread their radicalism.

Those SOmalis, who are posting their hatred towards the US, I would tell you US milatary came 1992 to help Somalis when they were dying for famine and conflict,and the terrorist groups in Mogadishu with the Help of Mohamed Farah Aidid (the Biggest Warlord in Somalia) drugged our young milatary in Mogadishu.

As a Somali women, I am appalled to read your comments about siding with the terrorist, while you are claiming leave Somalis to themselves. I say, as a women who is educated and who wants to help Somalia in the near future with new developmets, I totally disagree with you Somalis posting the need US and Ethiopian to leave Somalia. Because ones these TFG allies leave Somalia (US and Ethiopians), you want to radicalize my Somalis and talibanize them. Somalia was freedom loving and free from radicalism, so we will not let you spread you TALIBAN LIKE MENTALITY.

Thanks USA AND ETHIOPIANS FOR DESTROYING THE TERRORISTS ANd helping Somalis to stand up again.

Mohamed Hussein, Mogadishu:

Lila Said: Kinda hard to work up any sympathy for people who dragged our Marines' bodies through the streets after we deployed to help ensure that international food aid would reach those who needed it..."

Typical American! Did you not read the article? The US was giving millions to the warlord who dragged "the Marines' bodies.." He is your friend now. This is exactly the warped sick mind of your President!

Somalis did not and do not want your help or sympathy! Just leave them alone! You have lost the right to talk about your Marines when you hired Colonel Abdi Qaybdiid.




I am an Ethiopian. The American writer, Mr Martin is only talking about American interest, he is not taking of Ethiopian interest. He thinks Ethiopians are there just for the sake of Americans.

In truth, Ethiopia has more interest in Somalia than USA. Ethiopians are there because the islamic court declared jihad against Ethiopia. Nonetheless, because the islamic court declared war on Ethiopia, it does not mean all the innocent Somalian people did.

Many are blaming Ethiopia, but not blaming the IUC. If the IUC were clever and wise, why they put themselves in the Fry? Why they involve themseelves with the Eritrean government? Why they didn not stand with their people and wash their hands fron the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea? Why the declare war on Ethiopia? why the threatened USA? It is themselves who put in difficult situation and the innocent Somalianas are bearing the consequences.

I read many Somalians still stating that they will attack Ethioia? will Ethiopians wait until they get attacked? First of all it is really unwise to talk about ordinary Ethiopian and Somalian. people who are fighting for regional, national, global geopolitical purpose can not represent ordinary people.

As to the say, Ethiopia is fake. Probably you have read that word from Magommatis who hates Ethiopia and who tries to create his own Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has been there since time immorail and even colonizer tried to part it but they did not succeed. If Somalians wanted to try that, it will only lead them to more misery and suffering?

About muslim , there are probably 40 million muslims in Ethiopia , four times than in Somalia. Ethiopia is a home to Muslim and Christians. If our people in Ethiopia could have been like Somalians, we could have worse situations than Somalia.

In Ethiopia, Christian and Muslims intermarry, share happiness,sadness together. They fight thier enemies together. They are
one in all aspects except their belief in God. They respect each others religions. We have no problem like in Somalia.

we do not care what people write and feel, but Ethiopians cannot allow anyone mess in thier affaires. Threatening Ethiopia will still bring problem to Somalians than to Ethiopians.

If somalians are wise, they must put aside their differences and sit around table and solve their problem.

I do agree that Ethiopians and Eritreans and Americans stop creating mess in Somalia.

I suggest young Somalians should form a new non-antagonistic all inclusive political party which respect every Somalian equally and an organization that is peaceful and that does not declare war on people of any nation. then everyone will support Somalian.

Now you have UIC which works with Eritrean government and TFG that works with Americans and Ethiopians. These are serving others, not Somalians.

True Somalians need to vindicate themselves by shunning non-peaceful organisation. Then you may succeed. However if you continue threatening nations because you are in control of certain towns,it will not get you anwwhere.

The things, if the ethiopian government and American government are serious about getting rid off the UIC, they must get rid of the man in Asmara. I actually do not understand why Ethiopians and Americans are fighting an endless war in Somalia and without caring about the man who is fueling this war from Asmara.

If the man in Asmara is gone, there will never be UIC. Prime Melis should do first thing first than fighting an endless war without dealing with the actual war.

Yususf from somalia:

Its time that the US shifted its flawed policy towards somalia and her ever suffering people.

What the bush Admin has done to somalia in 2006 can only be described as horrific and sad.

Allowing neighbouring ethiopia which has had two major wars with somalia and routinely persecutes the ethnic somalis in its Ogaden region to invade the country and destroy what was left of the capital city, in the process displacing 2.5 million somalis and than having a US ambassador call it progress can only be described as horrendous in the eyes of millions of somalis.

Today somalia can only be described as far worse than Darfur and possible the worst humanitarian disaster in the world.

How on earth can the US or the west condem China over supporting genocide in Darfur when they themsleves support the genocide against the people of somalia by ethiopian troops?

Would George Bush and he's admin ever face charges for crimes against humanity and be brought before the courts and criminal?

The US has planned, financed and supported the invasion of somalia by ethiopia on the grounds that somalia had three suspects that bombed its embasies in KENYA AND Tanzania and the worst part of all this is that the three suspects that the US are after are not even somali.

Ethiopian troops out of somalia, thats all the somali people want at the moment, and by God we will do all it takes to achieve that object.


Re: Somalia:
Since those people do not seem to know how to govern themselves, I believe that the best way to pacify their country is to divide it among its neighbors; Eritrea, Ethiopia and Kenya. Already many are living in Kenya and the other states in the Horn of Africa.


ALL those Insulting USA, Ethiopia, AND TFG are terrorists. Those who hate coexistence and peace and insulting The Peaceloving Somali President, Mr. Yusuf are terrorists. These terrorists do not even know how the world works, because they are not even aware that SOmalia is part of the GLOBAL VILLAGE, and if some parts of the Village is messed up by terrorists and those who harbor terrorists and malicious, then the Global Village troups; USA, ETHIOPIA, KENYA, and UN nations have the responsibility to stop the FLAMES of TERRORISTS before it spreads to every where.

I cannot believe some who are claiming "SOMALIS" posted ANTI PEACE; ANTI USA, ETHIOPIA, AND ANTI TFG. It is obvious those who claim leave Somalia to Somalis are DEAD wrong, because SOmalia collapsed 1991, and any help to restore PEACE will be welcomed by the Majority of SOmalis who love peace.

But I urge the international community not to listen those few who are against the help of Ethiopia and USA, because they are terrorists and terrorists always enjoy massacring innocents and killing, and not peace and progress.

Little My:


Although the columnist at least partly might have done the correct diagnosis, his prescription for medicines hardly would bring the remedy so much needed.
Somalia remains a failed beggar state bathing in conflict and violence as far as there is only a puppet show for a government manoeuvred by wellknown warlords, foreign occupying forces and their proxies.
There is too long a history of local, ‘national’ and international greeds turning the SCZ Somalia to ‘the hands of a complex mix of perpetrators’ as put by the Amnesty International in its report published in May.
The arms, the military machinery, the militias, the armed forces there’s been plenty of or in excess for decades, more of that sorts and more coercion will never let the country and the people so severely traumatized find the peace and reconciliation.
The peace process from within by the UIC appreciated and hopegiving at the roots in late 2006 was brutally crushed by the US-led antiterror politico-military complex and has piece-by-piece turned Mogadishu to another Baghdad over the ocean. More than a million residents have been uprooted and left at odds with a wider misery and scarcity of all kinds of resources to meet basic human needs.
But looking at the greater picture in the Horn, there is a light, there’s a glimmer of hope born among the Somalis themselves: Somaliland, the former British protectorate and neglected former partner to the Somali Republic, a de-facto, if not de-jure, sovereign state since 1991.
There’s no divine decree nor secular ordinance or just unavoidable hard fate that Somalis should not be capable of rising above their differences and finding paths to reconciliation and homegrown democary and development if they find at their hearts and minds the determination and the will to serve and nourish their people instead of allowing the perpetrators and their kins to deplete and abuse their heritage and their proper future.
Should we not rather learn from the Somalilanders’ experience, so unique and extraordinary in Africa, than draw to further violence in flexing any kinds of armed and armoured muscles?


The Terrorist They Call "president" Is The Enemy Of Humanity!!

I will NEVER, EVER forget, nor will ANy Somali who knows what happened to their country EVER forget what the stinkibng Americans have DONE to my country. We will Never forget your Evil, white man. I will NEVER, ever forget the mass murderer from America and his SLAVE, the stupid, monkey-like, dumb Ethiopian who is RAPINg OUR women on behalf of his stking master, the white man.

I hope white man, what you did to my country happens to yours. I hope what you did to my people hapens to your people. I hope what you did to our children and our women happens to your children and your women.


No question about it, I HATE AMERICA!!!

Proudly signed


Somali future president:

Yes we are hate some people but we d'nt hate people who love us. Somalia will came back and we will know who did good thing to us and who mislead us. Do you think that we cant spot the fight and start lifing togheter we can do it but still we have enemy and we got our enemy and i will show you that one day we become the power of world. Dont suprise my words we will do that with in 11 years wait. And all somalian and who love us i wish you good health


I was there in 93 & 94 as a Marine Infantry Officer. Why should we care about Somalia when the Somailis don't care?
Is it a breeding ground for terrorists - yes. It was in the 90s too. So nothing has changed. Les Aspin prevented any type of progress both on the military and humanitarian side.
Somalia is not worth one ounce of American sweat and certainly not worth a drop of an American serviceman's blood. Leave it be . . . calloused - you bet. Unless you've been though, don't comment.


Mr. Martin writes that 'The United States should first pressure Ethiopia to withdraw and bring all Somali factions to the negotiating table. It can also work within traditional tribal structures to reach out to Somalia’s people, effect political change and distribute aid'.

These options are noteworhty, it is also pertinent to point out that the United States has intervened in Somalia before in 1992 to 'help the starving people of Somalia'. That intervention ended in fiasco after killing more Somalis including a targeted killing of 76 elders and intellectuals in one day, naturally blaming them for being killed. The U.S. can help Somalia by staying out of Somalia and taking their mercenary army from Ethiopia, Somalia's perennial enemy. Many of us hoped that those beautiful slogans of 'human rights, international peace, democracy, sovereignty' weren't empty words but unfortunately the U.S. foreign policy is guided by brute self-interest, global hegemonial desire, Islamaphobia and 'might is right' paradigm.

Somalis are not guided by mere religious or territorial gain doctrine but by the desire to live peacefully without political repression or colonial domination. Ethiopian troops will have to leave all Somali territory including the Ogaden or this artificial newly baptized 'Ethiopia', formerly known as Abbysinia will break up in small mini tribal fiefdoms. It is a fake country, held together by an internal political repression and domination. It's a matter of time. And not for long.


Somalia is the test place for the new 21century.
by by.




As a Somali i believe the best solution to fixing the problem were in is to allow our people to figure out our own problems. Any single group can solve Somalia's problem. But because of deliberate and calcualted planning by Arabs who seek to keep the price of Oil high(because peace in somalia means more oil into the world economy) would like to support mulitple groups inorder to countinue the anarchy that has persisted for nearly two decades.

The west blindly bombs anyone who says allah not knowing that more than 1.7 billion muslims live in the world. And worse they genuently believe that bombing anyone who they dont like whether the locals support them or not is up to them.

But like all problems the solution will be found by the average man decades from now. After all the western world believed slavery was right. That discrimination against those of diffrrent national orgin was ok. And ignorantly belived that it was their burden that others werent thinking or believing what they thought was right.

Now ofcourse everyone knows slavery is wrong. but just like this everyone will realize that the adventure Blair and Bush took after 911 was the biggest mistake the west ever got itself into. And worst of all when peace sets in decades from now there will be groups attacking the west because of the attacks going on in the somalia, iraq, iran, syria, palestine, and countless other nations who seek to rule themselves.

Groups like the U.S. and Western nations are largerly ignorant about the problems facing many Muslim nations. We live in a new world one in which armies are usless. One in which public opinion matters more to a nations security than a nuclear bomb.

In the end the Somali people will solve their problems its only a matter of time. But what everyone else should worry is what they will do to all those groups of nations and people who allowed this problem to countinue. After all Osama is attacking America and the west for what they did decades ago. If western leaders countinue to be ignorant and dont address ligitament grievances the people who will pay the most will be the generations that come after them many years from now.


the most correct reporting from somalia sense the war started who ever wrote this knows what hes talking about, you got everything wright, if somalia is becoming a terrorist place its all because of american action, the first step of ending this war would be getting the ethiopian mercenaries out of somalia, second step would be found strong somali troops to deal with al qaida just like in iraq, and then last thing american oil companies can come back to somalia


the most correct reporting from somalia sense the war started who ever wrote this knows what hes talking about, you got everything wright, if somalia is becoming a terrorist place its all because of american action, the first step of ending this war would be getting the ethiopian mercenaries out of somalia, second step would be found strong somali troops to deal with al qaida just like in iraq, and then last thing american oil companies can come back to somalia


Kinda hard to work up any sympathy for people who dragged our Marines' bodies through the streets after we deployed to help ensure that international food aid would reach those who needed it, instead of being stolen by bandits and warlords.

Alan Dean Foster's remark is most germane.

I would not waste one dollar on that so-called country and certainly no more American lives.



You're wrong. Responsible people who can, don't. Those who cannot, do. While "Idiocracy" is a satire, it makes an excellent point; you should check it out.


My opinion is it doesn't matter what you do in that country. They seem hell bent on destroying themselves. So be it. Why get in their way?


Want to solve Somalis problem? Then stop supporting the so called Transitional Government. It's full of warlords who hire their own milita and call them "soldiers". The people of Mogadishu hate the soldiers. Two weeks ago a soldier fired at a bus full of passengers looted their bodies for mobile phone and walked away.

It's crime like that which have turned the people against the TFG (Transitional Federal Government). Crimes which you ignore. The Insurgency is winning. They have freeded most of Southern Somalia and in the last few weeks the city with the largest concentration of Ethiopian troops has been freed. The Ethiopians evacuated after the Islamists surrounded them and then tried to go back. They got ambushed and suffered severe casualties. They managed to make it to the outskirts of the city but haven't gone inside it because they know they will be attacked.

Half of Mogadishu is free and Baidoa the second city is surronded. The war will not last a few months. Either the Islamists get defeated or they win. So far they are winning.

Oh and the ceasefire you are talking about. It was signed by members of the opposition who had no say in the fight. The Insurgency is still going on. How can it bring hope when it changed nothing? All it did was alienate the ones who wanted talks.

T-bone Pickems:

Is there any oil in Somalia?


religious extremism is not the source of the problem in Somalia. even a rookie knows that! Arab fundamentalists usually exploit local somali greivances to create political islam. So THE QUESTION WE SHOULD ASK SHOULD BE WHAT IS THE MAIN ISSUE AMONG SOMALIS???

THE BIG ONE IS CLAN POLITICS!!! Those folks HATE each other like crazy! the clan and sub-sub clan can go even deeper on the ground. they are all Somalis ethnically but the clans and sub-clans hate eachother.

To solve this hate somali government have used 2 methods.


The old method was somali leaders preaching Somali supremacy and the creation of GREATER SOMALIA, a ONE-ETHNIC COUNTRY...which became a source of national unity that hid the clan hatred. to achieve this goal, they invaded ethiopia and kenya in 1970s because ethiopia and kenya had territories inhabited by ethnic somalis. as expected, GREATER SOMALIA failed. but the plan still exists.


the other method is creating an imaginary anti-islam enemy of somalia. This was easy job because ethiopia is ruled by christians. so somali leaders (like the current ICU) used anti-ethiopia propaganda and muslim unity music to unite somalis. some ICU members seeked taliban assistance. This was stupid because doing this in BUSH era of "War on terror" is suicide and more stupid because population wise Ethiopia has 20 million more Muslims than Somalia. in general, this also failed.

Now some somali leaders are using both islam and Greater Somalia idea to unite somalis. this will fail but it is not failing fast enough. The only solution is to make this fail faster. America and UN should cut apart Somalia into small countries. there is already a region called Somaliland that is seeking to separate from Somalia. the UN should recognize it.

In general, clan politics is the source of the problem and the second big issue is GREATER SOMALIA ambition. In that part of Africa, ONLY Somalia wants to make a country that is ONE-ETHNIC. All other african countries have almost 100 ethnicities in them, including somalis. Almost all countries in the region are multi-ethnic. The ambition of ICU and other somalis to create ONE-ETHNIC country called GREATER SOMALIA by taking territory of other countries is a top source of problem. Unless UN wants the rest of Africa to burn and to divide into ethnic-countries, the UN should quickly break apart Somalia and end its ambition to create the only one-ethnic country in the region.


1- recognize Somaliland

2- cut apart the rest of somalia more

3- Give aid and Help Establish democracy in Djibouti,Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Puntland and SOmaliland and whatever it left of SOmalia.

Steve, Livonia, MI:

The failure of US foreign policy in many of the islamic countries is not surprising when one considers that the end of the cold war has not resulted in a careful reassessment of US interests. The same cadre who fought the Soviet monolith was left in charge. As problems arose, such as our refusal to remove our forces from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait at the end of the first Gulf War, our leaders - left over from the cold war - viewed all of the problems as emanating from a central plan. Accordingly, cold war tactics were used to fight the "offenders". That meant that the old maxim that our enemies' enemy is our friend governed. Nothing could have more incited resistance by diverse groups to our objectives than such a self-defeating approach. We need a complete and realistic reassessment of our objectives in the world. We do not have much time!


You are the most inept group of people who i have had the displeasure to read your unwanted comments and i don't think you even have a right to give any opinion regarding Somalia.Yes Somalia was volatile before Americans brought their sorry asses into the picture and completely intensify what was already happenning.
I as a Somalia would have appreciated if the American Government would have not tried to give us their "HELP" and more importantly to hear American talk about Somalia as if they grew up there or know anything apart from what they know is happenning in their own "STATE".Please keep your comments to yourself and lead by your stupid President, if a country can elect unintelligent President it just reflect how stupid the Nation is.

Alan Dean Foster:

In 1983, I once asked a friend of mine who had spent a lifetime working as an expat for various foreign aid agencies where was the worst place he had ever had to live and work. He didn't hesitate.

"Somalia", he said. "We'd go around in jeeps to hand out help, and people and kids would line up on the side of the road to throw rocks at us. Didn't matter who was in the jeep or what it represented...U.N., U.S., Russians, Danes, Chinese, French. The Somalis hate everybody and everybody in Africa thinks Somalia is a nation of bandits".

This from a dedicated family man who lived and worked three years in the vacation spot of Pakistan and another three in (then) communist Tanzania, among other locales.

Did we create the Somalia problem? I think not.


No, "we" did not! Somalians who refuse to stop breeding nonstop created Somalia's mess. When is the world going to realize that wealthy countries are not responsible for the fact that poor countries breed beyond their ability to sustain the population. Responsible people don't have kids that they cannot feed.


As one who was part of the US Diplomatic team in 1992 who opened a Liaison office in Mogadishu I can say with some certainty that the problem wasn't new when we arrived. Somalia hasn't had a working government since 1989 and still doesn't. But it is simplictic to say that we should bring everyone to the table, that will entail a mighty big table with the various Clans, sub-clans, and sub-sub-clans leaders to be accomodated. UNISOM I which started in 1992 and ended in 1993 was a success, the food convoys were getting through, thanks to the US troops providing escorts. And the two main warlords Mohammed Farah Aideed, and Mohammed Ali Mahdi were sitting down at the same table and talking. There was still violence in the country but at a much reduced level. Enter UNISOM II and the UN assuming control of a much reduced military force, one of the first acts was to declare General Aideed an outlaw and order US troops to capture him. The result, a loss of American lives and a Hollywood movie "Blackhawk Down". The first order of business should be the supression of violence, this will require a heavily armed multi-national force. Only then can rational people assemble at a table no matter how large it takes to return the country to the 21st Century.


I say we concentrate on the Western Hemisphere.....in Central and South America there are unlimited resources that can be intelligently exploited, now that we have learned our lesson in the hazards of indiscriminate exploitation of our envoronment....there are at least Three natural gas and petro giants along with cultures very similar to ours....let's get away from the toxicity of middle east and african cultures....and let's bring the show home....we are the hemisphere of the ex-colonies...let the Old world figure out the mess THEY are in...we are here and everything we need is here...we might have differences with certain nations in this hemisphere but you would be hard pressed to find a Chilean or a Venezuelan willing to strap on explosives to blow you up simply because you drew a caricature of WHOMEVER.....let's bring it on home gentlemen and Gentle ladies.....as for the Israelis....do what you think is right.

Ivan, Washington, DC:

We already have far too many foreign adventures going on. We should allow this one to pass. If it helps, we should think of this as a Somali internal matter.

On the other hand, Somali pirate ships should be sunk on sight and Somali pirates should be shown the yard arm with a drumhead trial at best.

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.