Merchant of Death
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Blood from Stones

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The Closing Window in Somalia
Already the transitional government in Somalia appears to have almost completely squandered the small chance it had to begin to restore the country to some form of functionality.

Jendayi Frazer, the State Department's point person on Somalia, acknowledges that time is running out and that the leaders of the government have done almost nothing to reach out to form a more inclusive body politic.

This can only lead to further violence and chaos. (On Friday unknown assailants fired mortars at the presidential palace and the casualty count was unknown).

Already the government of Abdullahi Yusuf has shown an intolerant streak and the infighting among the Darod clan and the Hawiye clan (and the various sub clans and sub-sub clans) is threatening to cripple the government almost before it begins.

The Ethiopian troops, now viewed widely as an occupying force, cannot leave because there is no one to replace them-no national army and no international force. The AU is still dithering, as it did in the case of Sudan, and is likely to be unable to muster the will or the attention to actually take any signficiant steps.

The amazing inability to seize the moment, either by the government or the international community, is what will make people long for a return of the Islamic Courts. Order is better than chaos and people are willing to give up large measures of freedom and self-determination in order to obtain stability.

The huge problems the United States, EU, UN, AU and any other group have in establishing successful governance after a war or conflict are amply evident-in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Liberia, Angola, etc. etc. There is seldom a comprehensive plan or policy attention for the next step, vitally important to insure the lives lost in the initial phase are not in vain. Yet there are few recent successes to point to. Bosnia, perhaps, El Salvador and Nicaragua after the Cold War. Certainly fewer successes than failures, and many may argue the cost of those was too high.

The ICU had little real clan and sub-clan support, according to Somali scholars who have studied the structures in Somalia. What made the tolerable to many people was their ability to deliver on some basic services and security-more than anyone else in the past 14 years. Replacing what the ICU did well with a service that was comparable, needed to be the highest priority, but has not been.

In my mind, the ICU had to go. The creation of a new Islamist state was not acceptable, to the United States or the rest of the Western world. The emergence of another center of the Caliphate was not only dangerous to our strategic interests but a huge boon to the Islamists in a psychological victory and recruitment tool.

But now, the situation is such that the ICU, despite being roundly defeated militarily, looks appealing, as the Taliban now looks appealing to many and Saddam to more than a few. That could be the biggest defeat of all.
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