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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Finally Law and Order Comes To Mogadishu... (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Finally Law and Order Comes To Mogadishu...
Cytania
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... thanks to Sharia law.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/6106398.stm

"A few months ago, Mogadishu's chaotic roads were ruled by red-eyed, open-shirted militia, speeding along in their technicals - the open vehicles with anti-aircraft guns mounted on the back - weaving from one side to the other to avoid the potholes.

Today, one of the world's most dangerous cities has been tamed: law-abiding men and women motor along without a gun at their side, keeping steadily to the speed limit, and not daring to swerve for craters.

This transformation is down to the rule of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which took control of Mogadishu in June and much of southern Somalia since then.

They have imposed Sharia law and are at lengths to show that no-one, no matter their clan or influence, is above God's law.

Trials are swift and punishments public: publicity is their policeman.

Most are astounded by the changes - restaurants are opening, business is booming - and people are proud to show off to visitors their new-found security.

But with reports that Ethiopian troops are in the country backing the beleaguered interim government in Baidoa and peace talks deadlocked in Khartoum, the calls for jihad grow.

It is talk that may win approval amongst the young at rallies after Friday prayers, yet behind the rhetoric the city's residents are sick and tired of the 16 years of fighting Somalia has experienced since the fall of Siad Barre.

"Jihad will mean more deaths. Why can't we use our brains to solve the political stalemate instead of fighting?" a female student recently had the temerity to ask UIC chairman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in a debate broadcast on the BBC Somali Service.

The 400-strong audience burst into applause before Mr Ahmed had a chance to respond.

Questions then flowed thick and fast from other women.

"Will you allow women to work in the media? Are you the Taleban?"

A known moderate, Mr Ahmed sought to allay their fears: the Islamists, he said, did not want to stop women working.

"Actually, I am happy a woman is asking this question - at a university campus," he said.

Yet it is this uncertainty about the UIC's intentions that marks life in the capital.

Loud music no longer blares from taxis: it has not been banned, but it is felt best not to test the waters.

In Kismayo, 500km south of the capital, Islamist hardliners have banned the chewing of the mild narcotic khat - an afternoon ritual across the country.

On Tuesday, a distraught football fan phoned up the BBC Somali Service from Jamame, near Kismayo, begging them to include La Liga match details in their sports reports the next day as he said the screening of football matches had just been banned in his town.

These creeping edicts may be the courts' undoing as Somalis have always had a fairly liberal interpretation of the holy scriptures.

Agaran, which means green in Somali, is the perfect example. The coastal town is Somalia's Gretna Green, where couples eloping from the capital can go for a quick marriage.

According to Islamic law, a woman must get her father's consent to marry if her father or guardian is within 50km.

On the map, Agaran is just over 50km south of the capital with many a willing sheikh at hand to perform the nuptials without dowry objections and saving the young couple wedding expenses that can ordinarily cost up to a year's wages.

Agaran's days as Somalia's romantic capital, however, are over, as Islamic leaders banned elopement marriages as unlawful on Monday.

Dissenters argue that this authoritarian attitude is eating away at Somali culture and traditions, from dulling their dress code to muting their music.

But for most this is an argument for another day.

For now, Somalis are basking in the novelty of moving about freely, the novelty of seeing a woman behind the wheel, the novelty of militiamen greeting them politely at checkpoints, the novelty of leaving their guns at home."

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Cytania
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Update: all bets are now off... government forces have rolled into Mogadishu and freed the warlords imprisoned by the clerical courts. Anarchy has returned... :-(
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Cytania
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So it was the US that sponsored the return of guns to the streets. Looks like America can't tolerate Islam doing any good anywhere...

http://iht.com/articles/2006/12/26/opinion/edlone.php

Another country screwed up by US anti-islam politics.

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Mariner
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quote:
Looks like America can't tolerate Islam doing any good anywhere...
I fail to see how totalitarian rule and a war with their neighbors (and due to their call for jihad, a war that had potential to become an even bigger bloodbath) is "better" than civil war. Not to say it's worse, but I think you're emphasizing apparant stability far, far too much here...
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Redskullvw
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It would seem that the stability would depend on a gun pointed at the civilian population, and another gun pointed towards the majority Christian Ethiopia, and the secular Kenya via jihad.

Yes the Islamist extremists brought stablity at the end of a gun barrel, but what the offered was the eventual entrapment of Somolia in 13th century customary laws and their neighbors in a renewed warfare on Africa's Horn.

Something which cannot be tollerated, if you think the UN Declaration of Human Rights has any meaning or worth.

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Pete at Home
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Cytania, would you have supported US slavery to avoid civil war? Or do you only support enslaving black people when Moslems are the owners?
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sharpshin
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As they say about Mussolini, he made the trains run on time.
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Tezcatlipoca
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This is almost starting to sound like:

"The most disadvantageous peace is better than the most just war."

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Cytania
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"Cytania, would you have supported US slavery to avoid civil war? Or do you only support enslaving black people when Moslems are the owners?"

Ah, a variation on the 'have you stopped beating your wife yet' gambit, how quaint...

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Adam Masterman
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Pete, its unfair to claim that Cytania supports the enslavement of black people. People here defend you against charges of bigotry when you oppose ssm; the same courtesy is due Cytania. For one thing, nothing in this story or her endorsement has anything to do with race, which is simply an incidental aspect of this situation. Your statement, however, implies that Cyntania's position is based on the ethnicity of the people in question. I fail to see how that is any different than someone asking you: "Why do you support the continued oppression of gays in our society?", a charge you have repeatedly taken offense to.

Adam

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Eric
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Let's see...Somali Islamists declare jihad against Ethiopia...Ethiopia rallies a weak (but UN-recognized) Somali government cowering in Baidoa...Ethiopian and Somalian troops rout the Islamists.

And it's America's fault?

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Eric
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Oh, and regarding the IHT column...am I the only one who sees just the tiniest bit of pro-Islamist, anti-American bias there?
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Colin JM0397
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"And it's America's fault?"

While Iraq and Afghanistan get all the news, we have quite a few troops in the Horn of Africa where we are actively supporting those countries (Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, plus a few others) with money, civil action projects, and military training. That makes them officially American lackeys as far as our opponents/enemies are concerned.

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The Pixiest
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Personally, I'd rather die than live under sharia law.

Oh wait.. I WOULD die under sharia law.

Never mind.

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martel
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I have to agree with most of the posts on this page...
There are times when going to war is the correct, and maybe the only decision.
Looking from Ethiopia's point of view...
A revolution (if you can call it one, since there wasn't really anything to overthrow) threatened to bring a country that they share a loooong border with under the control of people who want to a) oppress all of their citizens who don't want to live under Shariah (and even though the country is nearly all Muslim, there are quite a few) and b) destroy, violently if possible, your religion and government (lest we forget, Ethiopia is mostly Christian).
I say that trumps making the trains run on time...now let's hope countries with more money than Ethiopia start caring about the pitiful state Somalia has been in for nearly 20 years (but why would Bush want to give money to stop both poverty and fanatical Islam, because that is what will happen again in Somalia if something doesn't change, when he can stop Islam and create poverty by attacking Iraq?)
Sorry just a bit of frustration in that last sentence boiling over.

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Cytania
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Sharia Law and Islam are being demonised here. Even president Bush is careful to make sure he says he opposes _militant_ Islam but I see a distrubing trend here that Islam and terrorism have merged in many minds.

Sharia Law is a legal system and somtimes it is preferable to anarchic warlordism. It may be brutal and puritanical but sometimes that is the medicine. Think the Protectorate period after England's Civil War (this was a period where Christmas was banned (yes really! anyone caught roasting meat on Christmas day was hanged) ) but the last thing that would have restored the monarchy would have been an French invasion sponsored by the pope.

Meanwhile can anyone explain to me what America is doing in the horn of Africa? There's no oil there, no substantial American interests. The only reasons I can come up with stink of that old nonsense 'domino theory'.

[ January 03, 2007, 02:30 PM: Message edited by: Cytania ]

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Colin JM0397
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Horn of Africa Troops Working to Stem Terror Before It Takes Root

HOA is a major trans-shipment area from lower Africa to the Middle East. IE lots of bad folks passing through, causing trouble, and looking for places to set up camp.

Deny the enemy a foothold, support the people, get them to trust us a bit, provide some stability where there was little to none, and the locals do tend to reject radical ideals and influences.

Our activities in the HOA have been some of the best in the WOT. Much more than Iraq, this is the real way to wage the WOT, and a place where we are making some good progress.

I suppose you could say it's a new-fangled version of the domino theory.

And a few more:
Promoting human rights around Horn of Africa
Civil Affairs improves lives of school children in Djibouti

[ January 03, 2007, 03:25 PM: Message edited by: jm0397 ]

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Daruma28
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quote:
Originally posted by Cytania:
Sharia Law and Islam are being demonised here. Even president Bush is careful to make sure he says he opposes _militant_ Islam but I see a distrubing trend here that Islam and terrorism have merged in many minds.

Sharia Law is a legal system and somtimes it is preferable to anarchic warlordism. It may be brutal and puritanical but sometimes that is the medicine. Think the Protectorate period after England's Civil War (this was a period where Christmas was banned (yes really! anyone caught roasting meat on Christmas day was hanged) ) but the last thing that would have restored the monarchy would have been an French invasion sponsored by the pope.

Meanwhile can anyone explain to me what America is doing in the horn of Africa? There's no oil there, no substantial American interests. The only reasons I can come up with stink of that old nonsense 'domino theory'.

Cytania, your "blame America" attitude is quite evident here.

What was our "interest" (i.e. greedy economic profit motive you seek to apply) in providing aid to the Indonesian tsunami vicitms?

Or what was our interests in the Balkans? Haiti?

Your template for framing just about every view you post here about our country is quite obvious. There is more to America and what we do in the world than the anti-American biased news reporting you consume and regurgitate here.

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Lady Starkiller
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quote:
Sharia Law is a legal system and somtimes it is preferable to anarchic warlordism. It may be brutal and puritanical but sometimes that is the medicine.
Erm... I don't know that I'd ever consider a "brutal and puritanical" legal system a good "medicine". That's like giving someone poison to cure their immediate headache - even though the poison'll kill 'em later.

quote:
Meanwhile can anyone explain to me what America is doing in the horn of Africa? There's no oil there, no substantial American interests. The only reasons I can come up with stink of that old nonsense 'domino theory'.
So we never do anything save out of our own self-interest? Wow. What a depressing worldview.
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Everard
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"Erm... I don't know that I'd ever consider a "brutal and puritanical" legal system a good "medicine""

It does tend to be the first step out of anarchy, though.

One of the underlying differences between political philosophies is the answer to the question:

"Which is worse? Living in anarchy, or living under a stable tyranny?"

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Lady Starkiller
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quote:
"Which is worse? Living in anarchy, or living under a stable tyranny?"
I don't suppose it's possible to consider both equally bad, but in different ways...
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martel
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"If I had to choose between a government without newspapers and newspapers without a government, I would gladly choose the latter"
-Jefferson
(actually that's just a paraphrase.)
Not exactly the same situation, and maybe you don't agree with him, but I'm sure you see the point: liberty and chaos or opression and stability?
Call me crazy but I'll take the Weimar or Somalia a year ago over the Nazis or Shariah.
(ok fine Weimar isnt a perfect example)

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Cytania
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Two viewpoints appear to be held by Ornerians;

1) Don't tax me to give welfare to poor Americans too lazy to find work or not have kids.

2) Tax me to give help to poor Africans because not everything America does is out of self-interest.

So, military outside of the US = open check book.
Social programmes in the US = no way gimme tax cuts.
Islam outside of the US = potential terrorist hotbeds.
Islam in the US = constitutional right to free religious expression.
?

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Lady Starkiller
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Erm, Cytania, I'm apparently having another one of my stupid moments, because I'm completely missing your point.
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Naldiin
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Cytania, the Islamic Courts had some fairly well established ties to Al Qaeda, as I recall. They were so incredibly Taliban-ish, for someone not to draw the comparison would be difficult. They effectively made laws outlawing 'fun'.

There's nothing odd about calling a stone a stone, and there's nothing remarkable about calling the Islamic Courts Islamist fundamentalists with terrorist ties.

That said, it should be considered that the actions of Ethiopa in this matter were more likley aimed at spiting Eritria than having anything to do with Somalia.

Islam in other soverign states isn't always a problem and I don't think anyone here is arguing it is. I don't hear frequent complaints about Turkey or Kuwait or the UAE, or for that matter, Morocco. But yeah, when a radical Islamist group backed by al-Qaeda is taking over Somalia, yeah, that's probably going to be a bad thing for the world in general and Somalia specifically.

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Daruma28
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One viewpoint appears to be held by Cytania:

1) America is BAD.

Do you get some kind of kick out of coming here and telling us in all the varied ways for which our country fits your viewpoint? We could play the same game with you and your country you know....

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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by sharpshin:
As they say about Mussolini, he made the trains run on time.

A rather unfair comparison. Mussolini took a modern western nation and imposed a dictatorship on it, which most people would agree is a step backwards. The UIC took one of the most dangerous places on Earth and drove out all the militias who were massacring civilians, raping women, and looting everything that wasn't nailed down, and replaced it with a dictatorship that most folks would see as a step forwards. Sure, their outlook is positively medieval, but medieval-style government trumps the hell out of the medieval-style anarchy that it was replacing.

Mussolini made the trains run on time for you. The UIC stopped your neighbor from being raped and your sons from being hacked to death with machetes.

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Cytania
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Hi Daruma, I think you'd be closer to my viewpoint with 'American Foreign Policy is wrong'. There's lots of things I like about America; rock'n'roll, democracy, Apple computers, tex-mex cuisine, free speech, fender guitars, the caesar salad...

Rallan, now you're getting my point. The UIC brought stability, no doubt their crude literalism would need to be improved upon but there's no way neighbouring countries backed by a country on the other side of the world can make them love another breakdown into anarchy.

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Eric
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Cytania --

A lot of people might be closer to your viewpoint if you didn't stretch so much in insisting that America is behind the Ethiopian/Somali government offensive against the Islamists.

That they're "backed by a country on the other side of the world" is only true in the sense that Ethiopian troops have been previously trained by the US, and if you really want to stretch, the US did nothing to interfere.

It's no secret that the US doesn't wish to see a Taliban-style Islamist government in Somalia. But then again, neither do most Somalis.

Will you at least admit that Somalia will ultimately be better off under a strong, UN-recognized, more or less democratic government than under the Taliban Somalia edition?

Edited to add: I note that one of the things you don't mention in your list of things you like about America is Americans. Just an observation.

[ January 05, 2007, 09:17 AM: Message edited by: Eric ]

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Rallan
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Except Eric that a strong, UN-recognized, more or less democratic government doesn't exist. Sure there's a government that the UN recognizes, but until Ethiopia decided to intervene it was on the ropes. And even now, it only controls part of Somalia and is only going places because the Ethiopian intervention suddenly made the UN-recognized government the most important of the many and varied factions within Somalia that saw the UIC as a threat to their power. But Ethiopia's not staying, the official Somali government doesn't have the clout to unite the country, and the people of Somalia are about to be left in the lurch.

Oh and Cytania's talk about US involvement might not all be hot air and paranoia. About ten days ago Kenyan analysts and observers claimed to have pretty strong evidence that the United States had surveillance aircraft over Somalia and that they were providing intelligence to Ethiopia. Its worth noting that the spokewoman for the US troops stationed at Djibouti said she was "not at liberty to discuss" the matter.

Although to balance things out and make it more sporting for the other side, Eritrea has continued their national sport of doing whatever they can to annoy Ethiopia, this time by providing anti-aircraft missiles to the UIC and acting as a staging area for foreign fighters from Syria, Yemen, and Libya who want to shoot them some Ethiopians.

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flydye45
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So does that mean a bit of Nazism was okay since it brought economic prosperity? After all, if we are ignoring the human rights record of one...?

Somolia, Somolia, uubber AALLEES!

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martel
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This is a slightly more complicated situation than Germany between the wars, but more or less it makes sense.
Germany under Weimar was, during the twenties, in possibly the worst economic situation faced by a western nation in the last 300 years: the currency had devalued about one trillion times (relative to the dollar). One trillion. That's like going into a 7-11 and finding out that, whoops, it now costs $750 billion to buy a candy bar...sorry about that. Bill Gates could buy ten skittles. And along comes...Adolf Hitler, the savior of Germany, to restore the devastated economy. To top it off, the government has no serious army, and therefore no power against anyone or anything.
The only difference is that Germans remembered a time of serious government and were always law-abiding and whatever. So there weren't violent riots and warlords.
So then what we have to determine is if the UIC are as bad as Hitler...probably not, but look at this editorial by the Chicago Tribune, which (I've checked their information, it's correct) states that not only did UIC do things like prevent people from watching the world cup, they are most likely hosting identified Al Qaeda leaders who bombed U.S. Embassies.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-0701050304jan05,0,10104.story
So yes, this is a national security issue for us.
However, the current government is weak, and this is a serious problem (after all, the weakness of the government led to the warlords, the american disaster in Mogadishu, and now the UIC. Now is time for the U.S. and Ethiopia to show what they really care about is Somalia and start helping. Maybe not troops, but something.

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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by flydye45:
So does that mean a bit of Nazism was okay since it brought economic prosperity? After all, if we are ignoring the human rights record of one...?

Somolia, Somolia, uubber AALLEES!

Again with the ridiculously stupid comparisons. This isn't a case of a country having a brutal dictatorship imposed on it from out of nowhere and being dragged backwards into a dark age of brutality or something. It's a country that was already in a dark age of brutality so staggeringly bad and messed up that even a bunch of islamic fundamentalists managed to be a step forwards. Nazism brought economic prosperity at the expense of a whole metric assload of dead people. The UIC briefly brought Somalia a period where dead people weren't piling up into metric assloads quite so quickly, and the closest thing it had enjoyed to economic prosperity for a while.

Or are you gonna sit around screaming "that's just moral relativism!" as if that somehow justifies your position that crazy islamists should always be overthrown even when the alternative is a bloodbath of anarchy, factional infighting, child soldiers, rape, and massacres?

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martel
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The UIC was proposing bringing a nice period of stability where the metric assloads of dead would be measured in Americans and not Somalians.
Even if they couldn't do it, that's what they were planning.

This is more complicated then it looks, however...does anyone have hard information on what is actually happening there now, because all the places I check have decided Somalia already got its 15 minutes of fame...

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Rallan
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Of course Martel, because everyone knows that if we gave 'em another three years, Somalia would've been the greatest threat to American national security since Tojo. Seriously, does anyone have any valid points to make, or is it all just blind faith in the notion that there's no way in hell any situation could ever have worse alternatives than a bunch of muslim fundamentalists running the show?
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0Megabyte
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Okay: Yeah, I get that with the UIC Somalia went from warlords to a somewhat stable government. That's good, sure.

Now that the Ethiopians have taken the capital, things don't exactly seem to be well. Then again, I'm still looking for more articles than this one.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/05/AR2007010500504.html?nav=rss_email/components?nav=slate

This whole situation seems to be lose-lose for Somalia. Either they have stability and a Taliban-esque government or they have no stability and warlords running the show.

I don't like either, but Ethiopia has done what it has done.

So, now the U.S. has pledged 40 million dollars to support the newly reinstated government. Well, that's nice, and will probably be of help, but I have doubts about this government lasting long.

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flydye45
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I wonder how long this sang froid attitude will last when some women will be murdered for showing their faces and cliteradectomies start becoming widespread. At what price peace?

This from someone who is insensed that Bush intercepted a few AQ phonecalls.

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Rallan
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Consider the alternatives flydye. It ain't peace under Shariah law or freedom with risks. It's peace under Shariah law, or brutality at the mercy of whichever bunch of yahoos with guns are in charge at the time. Some people getting executed because of an arbitrary and primitive legal system beats the pants off lots of people getting killed because heavily armed bands of militiamen are a law unto themselves. Zealots don't trump much, but they sure trump barbarians.


Hopefully the Somali government'll be able to surprise us all and follow up it's Ethiopian-backed victory by actually managing to maintain control and establish some semblance of law and order. It'd be nice, and it'd certainly be a nice alternative to the UIC, but I'm not holding my breath.

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TommySama
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Sickeningly I think I agree. We can't expect them to go from warlords warring to civil Englishmen drinking tea with their pinkies pointing outwards, talking about the injustices of the Iraq war and how good the dip is.

Given some time under Sharia with pressure from the west (say 100 years) they may well be under way to something more reasonable.

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flydye45
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Then, for the sake of argument, would you approve of a large Western democracy invading, installing curfews, and setting up governmental structures more akin to our own in near imperialistic fashion...since it's better then anarachy?
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