The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Category: Somalia

Destroying the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia Caused the Nairobi Mall Attack

Look, years ago, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) destroyed the warlords who ran Somalia’s capital.  These warlords, to give some context, would drag teenaged girls, by which I mean 14 years old, out of their parents shanty, take them away, and gang rape them.

The ICU were Islamic, to be sure, but they weren’t particularly radical as such folks go, and they brought law and order.  They were willing to make nice without the outside world, wanted to be the government and were willing to negotiate.  Sure, they would have imposed some variation of Sharia, but it would have been an improvement on the Warlords.  A massive improvement.

The West wouldn’t have it, it got African neighbors to invade (and don’t pretend it would have happened if the US, in particular, hadn’t wanted it to).  The ICU splintered, and as often happens, the people who replaced them were far nastier, were straight up Islamists.

And so you get this chilling statement:

An Al Shabaab spokesman as far back as in October 2011 had threatened Kenya with retaliation if it did not get its soldiers off Somali soil.

Ali Mohamud Rage said: ‘‘We, the Mujahideen, say to the Kenyan government: have you thought of the repercussions of the war against us? We are far more experienced in combat than you.’‘

Which is chilling because it is true.

As for driving them out of the cities, so what?  The Taliban was driven out of the cities too.  Rural based insurgencies don’t need the cities, they are not particularly important.  They’re easy for conventional militaries to hold, bit they also don’t matter much.



How To Defeat the Somali Pirates

Matt Yglesisas sums it up properly—you defeat them by denying them ports to sell their goods and the reason piracy is so out of control is because, as I noted at the time it was happening, they decided to get rid of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), the only movement that stood a chance of reunifying Somalia, stopping warlords from raping and murdering whoever they wanted, and, incidentally, stopping piracy.

So, if the Obama administration is serious, what they need to do is a 180 degree turn and support the successors to the ICU.  Yes, that will mean supporting some Islamists, but so what?  If the US can do business with and support Saudi Arabia, which is even more socially regressive than the ICU ever was, and funds foreign terrorists who attack the US, which the ICU never did, it can make a deal with Somali Islamists, who in any case, are mostly interested in having some basic law and order in the country so that warlords don’t rape their teenage daughters and murder whoever they feel like.

Given a choice between having my teenage daughter raped, and a little bit of Islamic law, I know which one I’d choose.  Perhaps America should let Somalis make the same choice.  As a side benefit, there’ll be a lot less piracy, because the new government will want normal trade and diplomatic relations (and aid) and the price for all that can be to crack down on the pirates, which as Matt notes, can only really be done on land.

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