Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Mess in Mogadishu

Events seems to have taken a dangereous turn during the last few days in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

It has been a desperate place for decades. I don't think there is any other capital in the world as torn apart by chaos and conflicts as this one.

There hasn't been a functioning government in the country since 1991. And prior to that different Cold War proxy wars on the Horn of Africa destabilized the entire region. On top of that came the horrible draught that led to the ill-fated US and UN intervention.

Since then it's been chaos.

After the invasion of Afghanistan there was a fear that elements of al-Qaeda would try to relocate to Somali. And there were signs that part of the infrastructure for terrorist activities in the rest of East Africa was in the country.

That made it even more imperative to get some sort of government in place. Talks under the auspicies of African nations did have some success in this direction last year, although the resulting government could not establish itself in Mogadishu.

But since then fighting has accelerated.

On the one hand the so called Alliance for the Restoration of Hope and Counterterrorism, which seems to be a loose coalition of secular warlords. Rumour has it that they have clandestine US support. There is also Ethopian support.

On the other hand the so called Islamic Courts, supported also by Eritrea. As usual, it's war by proxy.

The last week seems to have seen the islamist forces taking control of Mogadishu and driving the secular warlords away. There are reports of significant fighting.

If this is the case, then it is a worrying development.

It might be that this war by proxy has undermined the fragile efforts to set up a functing government. And it looks as if it is the islamist forces that have gained the upper hand.

This comes at the same time as there are signs of a deterioation of the situation in southern Afghanistan. And Iraq certainly does not seem to be approving.