Peacekeeping: The Somalia Solution

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January10, 2007: While the current fighting in Somalia has been described as a war, it's actually more of a peacekeeping operation. Ethiopia apparently sent in only about 5,000 troops. As is often the case in peacekeeping missions, these trained soldiers quickly dispersed the untrained militias of the Islamic Courts. Dispersed, but not destroyed. Now comes the hard part. Ethiopia does not want to keep its soldiers in Somalia, if only because it's expensive, and Somalis don't like Ethiopians (who are a traditional enemy, as well as largely Christian.) Meanwhile, Kenya has sent a few thousand more troops to its 650 kilometer border with Somalia, to try and prevent Islamic radicals from getting in. The Kenyans have already made several dozen arrests, but most of the refugees so far are women and children, apparently the families of Islamic Courts leaders, being sent away for safekeeping. The Islamic Courts proved to be more talk than action during December, when they enthusiastically trash-talked the Ethiopians, then quickly folded when pressed. Now the Islamic Courts leadership has been advised, by al Qaeda, to launch a guerilla war against the Transitional Government. In light of this, few countries are willing to send peacekeepers in. Even Uganda, which had been eager before to send a thousand troops, is having second thoughts.

Without peacekeepers, or perhaps even with them, Somalia seems likely to slide back into its constant, centuries old, cycle of clan feuds and anarchy. This makes al Qaeda inspired guerilla war redundant. And the neighbors know that, and don't want any part of it. Looks like Somalia is going to have to supply its own peacekeepers, or slide back into chaos. In this respect, they may be aided by U.S. Special Forces. These fellows are from a counter-terrorism task force that has been operating up north (in Djibouti) for five years. The American commandos have regularly been sending small teams into Somalia, and using some hired locals as well. Coming out of the shadows now may be possible because the Transitional Government is temporarily in control of the entire country (less the breakaway regions of Puntland and Somaliland). The U.S. already has more Special Forces and CIA people in Somalia, trying to round up, or kill, Islamic terrorists who had taken up residence. They are becoming visible to the mass media, and may just be turned into peacekeepers to keep the wild gossip in check.

 


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