Monday, August 07, 2006

The Dilemma Facing Somalis

By Fikru Helebo

Imagine that you are a Somali expatriate living in North America or Europe and that you are hearing the good news that has been coming out of Somalia in the last couple of months, the good news that for the first time since 1991, when rival warlords who overthrew the Barre regime made most of southern Somalia ungovernable, life in the capital city of Mogadishu is getting better under the rule of the Islamic Courts Union, now renamed the Supreme Islamic Courts Council (SICC). And then imagine hearing that this group that has brought much needed stability to a significant portion of southern Somalia is beginning to impose a strict form of Sharia law that is reminiscent of Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

If you are a Somali watching events unfold from afar, what would you do? Should you give the benefit of the doubt to SICC in the hope that it will institute a benign form of Islamic government in the areas it controls, or support the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia that is recognized by the international community but has very little authority in Somalia itself? This is the dilemma that a lot of Somalis are wrestling with these days, as it is evident from the plethora of articles that Somali expatriates are writing about current events in their homeland. Here below are some samples:

"Another Afghanistan Could Be Averted"
By Abdifatah Ismail (South Africa)

"Actions and inactions by Western governments contribute to the current events in Somalia"
By Mohamed Mukhtar Ibrahim (United Kingdom)

"The Struggle for Somalia: Warlords, Islamists, US Global Militarism and Women"
A Somali Woman Discusses the Sharia Court and Her Cousin Who Leads It
By Amina Mire (Canada)

"Why Ethiopia-bashing Is Not The Right Option For The United Islamic Courts Of Somalia"
By Liban Ahmad (United Kingdom)

It is sad to see the circumstances that the Somali people had to endure in the last 15 years, and there is no question that interference by foreigners, including Ethiopians, in Somali internal affairs has contributed significantly to the failure of the Somali state and the many attempts to reconstitute it. However, the main obstacle to reconstituting a central government in Somalia remains the unhealthy premium that the Somali society places on its clans, which only the Somalis themselves can remove.

Comparing Mogadishu's current Islamist rulers to the Taliban may be a bit of a stretch at this point. However, there is an eerie similarity between the route the two groups took in their rise to power -- both of them offered an Islamic fundamentalist ideology, radical political Islam, as an antidote to the lawlessness and chaos that ravaged their respective countries. This similarity coupled with the recent history of radical political Islam in inspiring terrorism and suppressing basic human rights is a very good reason to be alarmed about the rise of the Islamists in Somalia. Ethiopia, Somalia's neighbor and rival, with an estimated Muslim population of at least 30 million of which 4 million are ethnic Somalis, can not afford to have a radical political Islam take root in its backyard. Neither does Somalia!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The issue is not SICC applying sharia laws or not. It's the presence of Ethiopian troops in Somali land. No matter who is fighting Ethiopians I will support them wither it is SICC or not. Somali people abroad supported SICC because it stood against the invading Ethiopians. The transitional government has lost all its supporters from the Somali people if there was any to start with.