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Old 11-30-2011   #1
Chowing
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Default Horn of Africa Humanitarian Crisis and Al-Shabaab

In recent days Al-Shabaab terrorists have raided, looted, and completely shut down several aid and humanitarian agencies in Southern Somalia. The TGF and drone bombings have ran al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu and the terrorists our now concentrating on causing outside aid to break down in their strongholds in the south of Somalia.

How can the hearts and minds of the Somalians be won away from al-shabaab when giving aid seems less possible by the day?
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Old 11-30-2011   #2
Uboat509
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The conventional wisdom is that the US should provide very public humanitarian assistance in the hopes that the populous will appreciate what the US is doing for them. There are certainly times and places for that but this is not one of them. Our insistence on propping up the TFG despite its inability to do much more than govern much more than most of Mogadishu means that the key to success will be contingent on actually maintaining a lower profile. Somalis, particularly in the South where Al-Shabaab is strongest are already suspicious of foreign presence. The TFG remains unpopular in many parts of the country and its continued support by foreign powers, most notably the US and the EU has made many of them even more suspicious of foreign motives and intentions. The 2006-2009 failed attempt by Ethiopia to establish order, viewed by many Somalis as a US intervention by proxy, did little to alleviate that attitude. Al-Shabaab is really not terribly popular with local Somalis either but the TFG is even less so, or at the very least is incapable of doing anything to help Somalis who find themselves at the mercy of Al-Shabaab thugs.

Ideally what the US should do if it really wants to help is to quietly distance itself from the TFG and quietly work through intermediaries to provide support to local institutions and even militias who are opposed to Al-Shabaab. The anti-Al-Shabaab effort must have an entirely Somali. US/Western direct interventions should be limited to very surgical kinetic operations to remove foreign (ie not Somali) fighters who are advising/training/leading Al-Shabaab elements, taking great care to avoid collateral damage. The West, and the US in particular, must also be prepared if the government that emerges out of the inevitable collapse of the TFG is not the one that they would like to see. In all likelihood, Somaliland and and Puntland in the north, which have been self governing and largely stable for quite some time now will formally separate from the South. Any government that emerges from the south will likely have a conservative Islamic face, much like the Islamic Courts which preceded the Ethiopian intervention in 2006. This government will be far from what the US would like to see but the US must remember that the goal is not to create western style democracy but to create a state that is inhospitable (or at least less hospitable) to extremist elements with global aspirations. That is what we should do.

Unfortunately, we will remain wedded to the idea that anything other than some form representative government and the implementation of western style concepts like the primacy of secular law over religious law and gender equality means that we have failed. And so, what we will most likely do is we will continue in our counterproductive support of the abortion that is the TFG, we will continue to refuse to support local entities rather than the TFG so as not to "undermine" the TFG, and will continue to do so very publicly so that Somalis in the south will not soon forget our role in removing a distasteful (by western standards) government that at least functioned and helping to install and then prop up a government that is unpopular and largely impotent.
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Old 11-30-2011   #3
Chowing
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Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
The conventional wisdom is that the US should provide very public humanitarian assistance in the hopes that the populous will appreciate what the US is doing for them.
However, in the current situation in Mogadishu and the south is that aid distribution centers have been shut down. So, the conventional wisdom is not in touch with reality on the ground at present.

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.. Our insistence on propping up the TFG despite its inability to do much more than govern much more than most of Mogadishu means that the key to success will be contingent on actually maintaining a lower profile.
I agree, the US and Europeans need to stay far far in the background.

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Somalis, particularly in the South where Al-Shabaab is strongest are already suspicious of foreign presence.
The drone flying overhead and ocassion dropping a bomb only instills more hatred and suspicion.


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Al-Shabaab is really not terribly popular with local Somalis either but the TFG is even less so, or at the very least is incapable of doing anything to help Somalis who find themselves at the mercy of Al-Shabaab thugs.
The US and the Europeans for that matter do a terrible job of researching and understanding the local culture and the attitudes and preferences of the people. Or, it could be worse. It could be they do not even care what the locals think. They have their own agenda. I tend to think it is a little of each.

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Ideally what the US should do if it really wants to help is to quietly distance itself from the TFG and quietly work through intermediaries to provide support to local institutions and even militias who are opposed to Al-Shabaab. The anti-Al-Shabaab effort must have an entirely Somali.
There is a lot aid agencies and other NGO's can do if they are given the freedom to do so. What we should be entering into is a new age in which aid agencies can no longer afford to remain neutral. Their countries of origin, supporters and constituents may require them to take sides. Not a good time ahead for such agencies. They often find themselves sitting ducks, and they are beginning to pay for it in Somalia, as well as in the Sahel at the hands of AQIM.

Regional and clan tensions are raising in the East and the Horn of Africa. I wrote about it recently on by blog. www.terrorisminafrica.com
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Old 11-30-2011   #4
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Default Some context for the famine and external responses

Just watched a distressing half hour documentary on the famine in Somalia and the questions that arise - who is at fault? Provides some of the context for the issues raised here:http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/...473753430.html

As I have posted before the famine is not accepted as genuine by some.
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Old 11-30-2011   #5
Stan
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As I have posted before the famine is not accepted as genuine by some.
And I might add, that the distribution of aid is far from fair or controlled. Not too many volunteers willing to go into a war zone to donate rice with a US flag and "hand shake" on the outside
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