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Uganda bombings: Obama mustn't meddle in Somalia

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The Islamist rise in Somalia

The situation worsened until Islamic Courts Union (ICU) militias joined forces to rid the country of these American-financed warlords. The latter fled to Kenya, and together with former apparatchiks of the Barre regime, formed the “Transitional Federal Government,” (TFG) with the backing of the international community, the 14th such attempt to foist a central government upon the Somalis.

The West considered the ICU a terrorist organization affiliated with Al Qaeda, though it was run by some rather moderate elements who simply looked to impose order; strict as they may have been, Somalis considered them better than the warlords. In response, the Bush administration asked Ethiopia to invade its traditional enemy neighbor and install the TFG to power.

As the ICU melted away to become an insurgency – just as happened in Iraq and Afghanistan – the militant splinter Islamist group Al Shabab flourished in the environment of all-out war.

The corrupt TFG now controls only a few blocks of Mogadishu, after Al Shabab last year took even the government’s erstwhile base of support in a remote city. Clan-based militias and Islamists of various shades control other swathes of the country. The economy is destroyed after years of war.

Blowback

This gave rise to another recent boogeyman: fishermen dabbling in piracy to feed their again-impoverished communities.

And international intervention has provoked outrage among the Somali diaspora, leading some of the more impressionable elements into holy war against the occupation – and into the ranks of Al Shabab.

The African Union, an organization made up of various kleptocratic regimes from around the continent, agree with the UN and US that Somalia must have a traditional European-style central state. Member countries Uganda and Burundi have troops stationed in Mogadishu; Uganda’s contingent of 5,000 makes up the bulk of this force. Al Shabab has often threatened to punish these countries for their involvement. It seems they have now succeeded, and scores of Ugandans are dead.

The coming spin will make every attempt to ignore the years of Al Shabab’s warnings, having nothing to do with sports and everything to do with occupation. Ugandan troops kill Shabab fighters in their own land. This is the plainest example of blowback the modern world can offer our pundits.

Washington’s intervention has only exacerbated problems in the region. It’s time once and for all for Somalis to be free of international meddling. It hasn’t helped them, and as the Ugandans can now attest, it hasn’t helped us.

Jeremy Sapienza is senior editor of Antiwar.com. He lives in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, N.Y.

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Related:

Kenya on high alert after Uganda bombings

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