Merchant of Death
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Blood from Stones

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Some (Late) Realism on Somalia
Finally, rather than pretending Somalia is an unimportant side show in fighting Islamists in Africa, a senior official has actually acknowledged what is really happening.

Jendayi Frazer, the State Department's head of Africa, told reporters that al Qaeda is operating "with great comfort" in Somalia. In previous statements Frazer and others have advocated dialogue with the Islamist Council of Somali Islamic Courts and downplayed the al Qaeda presence there.

The CSIC is expanding its influence and the African Union have (again) proved incapable of timely action or anything close to a serious response. And, as in Sudan, Arab countries that could exercise influence in the region, have stood by silently, unwilling to tackle the bloodshed and violence. The only thing standing between a complete the CSIC and control of most of Somalia is the threat of a large military intervention by Ethiopia.

That, in turn, poses the threat of a broader war throughout the Horn of Africa. The recent U.N. Panel of Experts report on Somalia identified nine countries that are funneling weapons to the different sides in the nation (although the vast majority goes to the CSIC), all in violation of an international arms embargo. I know it is shocking that a U.N. arms embargo is not being respected. We have never seen that before!

Frazer has made it clear that the top U.S. priority is the apprehension of three al Qaeda members involved in the 1998 East Africa embassy bombing, who are believed to be in Somalia. It is also clear that the United States, its allies and the rest of Africa, have little concept of what to do about the creation of a radical Islamist enclave in a geographically-vital area.

Contrary to the UN calls for tighter control of weapons flows and strict enforcement of the arms embargo, the U.S. is pushing for a loosening of the embargo for the feeble government and a U.N. peace keeping force to protect it. Government ministers have defected en masse and the government, in reality, is more a figment of the international community's imagination that a real entity.

That, in reality, is not a policy. The weapons will flow, no matter what is formally done on the embargo. The UN peace keeping force could not possibly be deployed in time or with sufficient strength to be effective.

And with that, the CSIC has effectively won. They don't need to formally take over a non-functioning government. Public support is high for the reimposition of some sort of stability and the end to total lawlessness (shades of the Taliban in Afghanistan). Most Somalis also resent foreign intervention. The nominal government cannot exercise any real authority. And al Qaeda now has a haven in which they can operate in great comfort.
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