Somalia: Clash Of Cultures Creates Continuous Chaos


March 22, 2010: Islamic radical groups Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam have raised millions of dollars and hundreds of recruits from Somali expatriates in the West. This is done via the Internet, where the Islamic radicals portray themselves as dashing fighters for a united (as a religious dictatorship) Somalia. The religious dictatorship (an "Islamic Republic") is important, because any other form of government would have to deal with tribal and clan politics, which makes it much more difficult to establish unity. In fact, Somalis have never been able to establish a united government on their own. Meanwhile, Somalis and non-Somalis alike agree that the piracy problem can only be eliminated once a real government is established. Many nations would prefer a religious dictatorship, if it weren't for the fact that this would provide a base for al Qaeda and other international terrorists. Moreover, even the Islamic radical groups are divided by factionalism and this leads to fighting between these groups. So the situations looks a bit hopeless at the moment.

Lesser fund raising and recruiting results are obtained from the Somali community in Kenya, but that country also provides a sanctuary for the families of Islamic radicals who can afford to park them there.

A recent cooperation agreement between Sufi militias and the Transitional Government has been called into question as some Sufi factions insist they will not participate. This sort of factionalism has kept Somali without a government for nearly two decades. The main problems are clan loyalty and corruption. Too many leaders are not willing to put the needs of Somalia ahead of their clan and family. In addition, stealing foreign aid is seen as a right, not a crime. Deceiving foreigners about this is considered an admirable activity. There's a real clash of cultures problem here.

The new anti-piracy tactics are having some effect. So far this month, a dozen mother ships have been seized. The pirates are disarmed, speed boats sunk and the pirates put ashore. Some nations (mostly Europeans) let the pirates go with their disarmed mother ship, while others destroy the mother ship. This has slowed down pirate activity, with only two merchant ships taken so far this month, versus four in the same period last year. These tactics make it more expensive and time consuming to be a pirate. So the pirates have to work harder to take ships, which they are still doing.

March 21, 2010: For the first time, Kenyan naval forces have arrested Somali pirates in Kenyan waters. The pirates had run out of fuel, and seized a sail powered fishing boat in order to get back to Somalia. One of the fisherman used his cell phone to call the police, who intervened.

March 20, 2010: The Transitional Government warned people living in parts of Mogadishu controlled by Islamic radicals, to leave and avoid the fighting when government forces soon undertake their offensive to drive al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam out. This offensive has been promised for months, but there are doubts that the corrupt and divided Transitional Government can really put together a fighting force capable of launching such an offensive. Most of the money given to the Transitional Government to set up and maintain security forces, appears to have disappeared. The security forces are largely a sham.

March 19, 2010: In the southern port of Kismayu, a senior al Shabaab leader, Sheikh Daud Ali Hasan, was assassinated. Rival Islamic radical group Hizbul Islam was blamed, but they denied responsibility. Several Hizbul Islam leaders have been killed in a similar fashion by al Shabaab men recently. It's likely that  Hasan has killed as an act of revenge by friends or family of a former Hizbul Islam victim. Such killings are common in Somalia, where grudges are never forgotten and improve with age.  




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