Peacekeeping: Doing the Somali Shuffle


January2, 2007: Several hundred Islamist fighters and senior officials deserted their last stronghold at Kismayu in the early morning hours of January 1st, fleeing to an unknown location in southern Somalia. While Ethiopian troops and government militias occupied the abandoned town, Somalia's southern neighbors made significant moves to contain the roving Islamists. This will be a peacekeeping mission of unusual urgency, since no one wants these Islamic radicals to settle down anywhere in the region.

Uganda announced that an infantry battalion could be moving to the Somali-Kenya border in a few days. Up to now, Ugandan officials had been dragging their feet over any expensive entanglements in their neighbor's problems. The Ugandans have recently asked the United Nations for $300 million to repair their own economically devastated northern territories, almost $60 million more than what the UN estimates is needed for reconstruction work in Somalia. Uganda does not have the vicious tribal feuds that keep Somalia in a state of chaos, but the Transitional Government in Somalia was the result of over a year of negotiations among the tribes, and could work if there were foreign peacekeepers present to knock down the troublemakers (something Somalia has no shortage of.)

Meanwhile, the Kenyan government massed police and troops at checkpoints along its 1,500 kilometer long border with Somalia. While they claim to be trying to intercept the Islamist leaders, in reality the Kenyan police are turning back a stream of Somali refugees (primarily about a hundred kilometer south of Kismayu). Kenyan President Kibaki has urgently called on heads of East African states to come to a meeting over the exacerbating situation in Somalia. American warships are also off the coast of Somalia, looking for fleeing terrorists, and American counter-terrorism troops up north in Djibouti are also reported on the move. Since the Islamic Courts vowed to oppose any peacekeepers with force, now it the time to send the peacekeepers. - Adam Geibel


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