An effort must be made to shed light on fighting in Somalia, to better understand the factions involved in war, and the means to peace. The conflict has too easily been disfigured by the loose phrase: ‘international terrorism’ leading to a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the what is in fact taking place.
The Islamic Courts have their own multiple dimensions, their reasons for having at least in the past been popular in Mogadishu, and there is history behind their increased militancy. Conflict between clans, a lack of power sharing or compromise, and self-interested foreign interference contribute to chaos. The Transnational Government is legitimated mainly by international recognition, and it is hard to argue that it is otherwise much different or nationally more popular than any other major Somalian faction.
Regional tensions in neighbouring countries have been on the rise. Ethiopia risks internal strife as its own population – especially in its Somali Regional State – may revolt due to the strain of war. Eritrea and Ethiopia, rivals with disputed territory and memories of war between them, may use Somalia as a means of waging a proxy war.
The African Union has recognized the Transitional Government, though it has shown discomfort in this decision and isn’t showing great enthusiasm in helping. Meanwhile, the US has given its support to the Transitional Government, or more accurately to Ethiopia in its fight to decide the emergence of Somalia’s future government. Here, fear of terrorism and war on terror are used to justify American and Ethiopian action – a rhetoric preceding violence that may serve only to further radicalize the Islamic Courts and drive out its foundations of moderation.
The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) investigate the conflict and active factions in a recent report titled “Somalia Falls into Political Collapse.” The report states that “during the last two weeks of April, armed conflict in Somalia became more intense as the Ethiopian occupiers of the country and the forces of its Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.) undertook major military operations against a rising insurgency composed of Islamists, nationalists and militias affiliated with the Hawiye clan family in Somalia’s official capital Mogadishu.”
The report is worth reading to further understanding of Somalia’s war. The complete text is available here.