Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Somalia Still Slowly Bleeds
Somalia is still bleeding, and in critical condition. My sources working the region say the Union of Islamic Courts leadership is safely operating from bases in Eritrea. They are being armed by Russian planes with Ukrainian or Tajik crews, flying from Moldova (sound vaguely familiar??) and preparing a major offensive.

The transitional government has proven to be almost completely incapable of moving toward true reconciliation, and the inability to control the sporadic violence in the capital, while simultaneously failing to provide the basic services the Islamists were providing, is a corrosive combination.

The dependence on the Ethiopians has further weakened its position, as has the almost complete lack of interest in trying to construct a true, new national government that includes most of the clans and sub-clans.

So, we (the broader international community) is giving a defeated Islamist force the chance to regroup and wreak havoc and not holding the facilitating governments accountable at all.

While many of the alliances that make up the UIC are clan based rather than a shared endorsement of radical Islamism, the Islamists get to drive the bus because they provide the infrastructure and ideological coherence that drive the movement.

Does this sound anything like another place where the radical Islamists and allies were defeated militarily, allowed to seek sanctuary in a neighboring country and regroup, and come back to bleed almost to death the internationally-supported government? (Hint, it is not Iraq, it is the other war we have almost abandoned).

What is so distressing is the seeming inability to learn the hard lessons, even though those lessons were learned at great cost. These groups, fighting in part because they believe it is their divine destiny, don't just go away. They will regroup, re-finance and find shelter wherever it can be taken or purchased.

States like Eritrea and Pakistan who harbor them have to called to account. Eritrea, it seems, offers the Islamists sanctuary largely because its president, Isaias Afworki, not a radical Muslim, wants to settle personal scores in Ethiopia and Somalia. But the safe haven, separated from Somalia by a little water and the tiny Djibouti, is a vital lifeline. As are the tribal areas in Pakistan.

It is an old formula for non-state armed groups, to create rearguard areas from which to expand, train and supply their troops. Without those rearguard areas, the groups simply cannot regroup and move forward. It is time to start holding the countries that provide this vital tool accountable for their actions.

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