Peacekeeping: Failure in Somalia Assured

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February26, 2007: Somalia is going back to its roots. It was never a unified country, and a few generations of British and Italian colonialism did little to foster a sense of national identity. But then, outside of India, colonialism didn't do that very well anywhere.

In Somalia, no tribe or clan is able to dominate the others sufficiently to impose unity on a country-wide basis. In the breakaway northern regions of Somaliland and Puntland, however some of the tribes have been able to form federations that have done a reasonable job of imposing order and a degree of normalcy that the rest of the country lacks. But for most of the country, over two dozen major clans have been unable to form the same kind of coalition. The Transitional National Government (TNG) was an attempt at that, and the TNG found itself outgunned by the larger number of clans that had formed the Islamic Courts Alliance (ICA). With the ICA smashed by last Decembers Ethiopian invasion, the TNG has another shot. But many of the defeated ICA clans are proving to be poor losers, and continue to resist.

This presents incoming African Union peacekeepers with a serious problem. Basically, there's no peace to keep, and attempts at peace making put the African Union in the colonialism business. That's how the British and Italians managed the clans, with the standard tools of colonial rule, including large applications of violence as needed. It's unlikely that the African Union or the UN will have any stomach for that. The prospects for successful peacekeeping in Somalia are dim.

 


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