Foreign Policy Blogs

The New Deliberate Terror Campaign in Somalia

Somalia has now faced 17 years of bloodshed and chaos. This past week news agencies have been reporting on and questioning the ongoing power struggle (between the Western-backed government and armed "Islamist militias") and the effects of Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys' proclamation that he is the leader of the country's opposition. Aweys is designated a terrorist by Washington, and according to Agence France Press, on July 22, the head of the opposition ARS or "Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia," dismissed Aweys' move. This official head of the ARS, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was chosen as the leader in September 2007. Ahmed and Aweys "fell out after Ahmed decided to participate in UN-sponsored peace talks in Djibouti." In other major newspapers, reports have come out this past week about "Islamic insurgents" targeting foreign aid workers. This means, according to the sources, that the country is being pushed even closer towards a "full-scale famine" – the number of people needing assistance soon reaching 3.5 million. The Christian Science Monitor has reported that the attacks on aid workers are now part of "a deliberate terror campaign." For example, on July 7, as reported by Al Jazeera, the head of the UNDP in Somalia was shot dead in Mogadishu as he was leaving a mosque. The Djibouti Agreements were signed at UN-sponsored talks on June 9 and should have come into force on July 9. The signatories to the agreement were Ahmed, the head of the ARS and the Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein. On July 19, Agence France Press reported that Ahmed said the ARS wanted "the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from the Horn of Africa nation and a deployment of UN forces before implementing the Djibouti agreement." The majority of the ARS appears to back the agreement, while hardliners have rejected the peace deal. The AFP article reminds readers that "Ethiopian forces came to the rescue of an embattled Somali government in late 2006 to oust an Islamist movement that controlled much of southern and central Somalia" and was accused of being connected to Al Qaeda. The New York Times on July 20 estimated that seventeen aid workers have been kidnapped this year and reported that workers are leaving Mogadishu after leaflets were found in the city calling them infidels and threatening their lives. In this NYT article, by Jeffrey Gettleman, there is an excellent analysis of the source of such warnings and the theories behind the "violent murkiness" which has overtaken the country.

This blog discussed briefly the situation in Somalia on June 28 after it was listed as the world's most unstable country by Foreign Policy magazine.

 

Author

Karin Esposito

Karin Esposito is blogging on religion and politics from her base in Central Asia. Currently, she is the Project Manager for the Tajikistan Dialogue Project in Dushanbe. The Project is run through the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies with the support of PDIV of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The aim of the project is to establish practical mechanisms for co-existence and peaceful conflict resolution between Islamic and secular representatives in Tajikistan. After receiving a Juris Doctorate from Boston University School of Law in 2007, she worked in Tajikistan for the Bureau of Human Rights and later as a Visting Professor of Politics and Law at the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics, and Strategic Research (KIMEP). Ms. Esposito also holds a Master's in Contemporary Iranian Politics (2007) from the School of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran and a Master's in International Relations (2003) from the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (GIIDS) in Switzerland.

Areas of Focus:
Islam; Christianity; Secularism;

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