Monday, June 05, 2006

Enter Somalia

On Monday June 5th 2006, an Islamic militia stated that it had seized Somalia’s capital Mogadishu after weeks of bloody fighting and 15 years of anarchy.

The anarchy has not ceased to exist, in fact the Islamic militants will aid in its renaissance. This has worried Western governments as Somalia could very well be the new breeding ground for al-Qaeda extremists.

The United States has supported the leaders of an opposing Somali secular alliance in the past and has in fact helped them flee the country. Moreover, the US had a solid reason to support the secularists since they claim that the militants have links to al-Qaeda.

If this is really the case, what is al-Qaeda trying to do?

Al-Qaeda’s forte centers on its intricate, clandestine and decentralized structure. It would seem counter-intuitive for the organization to centralize and run its own government in Mogadishu. Thus, Al-Qaeda will certainly seek to maintain their non-state actor status since it makes it harder for the US and its allies to ‘decapitate’ them.

Al-Qaeda is further spreading its power and influence. In the past, Somalia had been a potential safe-haven for Osama Bin Laden and it should come to no surprise that his organization has ties to Islamic militant group. Moreover, Bin Laden was responsible for the 1992/93 massacre of 18 US marines in Mogadishu who were merely offering humanitarian aid to the brutal famine in Somalia.

Bin Laden is strategically trying to spread thin the US’ military resources. Under the Bush Administration, the military’s focal point has been Iraq and Afghanistan. Recently, Syria and Iran have also been under the prying eyes of the US. In other words, the US military has been 'actively' confined to the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent.

Historically, fighting a conventional war on two fronts has proven to be very difficult (i.e. Germany in WWII), let alone fighting a non-conventional war on multiple fronts. Al-Qaeda is spreading its virus to Mogadishu hoping to erect a Somali Taliban. This could potentially harm the US’ role in the war against terrorism as it seeks to hunt down Osama Bin Laden and cripple his organization. This is a strategic tactic since infiltrating other rogue countries and parasitically latching on to them will only further agitate the US.

The US has several Achilles heels, most notably their high dependence on oil to continue fueling their behemoth economy (see 'The ‘True’ Power Of Oil') Moreover, their track-record of battling insurgents has been appalling as was clearly seen during the 1970’s Vietnam war. This has not changed. President Bush was overly-confident that the US army would be able to fight any insurgency which would arise as a result of the US Iraqi occupation, he was proven wrong. The insurgency - under the leadership of al-Qaeda member Abu Masab al-Zarqawi - has done an incredible job of frustrating the Americans and causing formidable US and Shia causalities. If a similar structure is put in place in Somalia, the situation would not be any different.

The US has yet another obstacle in its fight against terrorism. The situation is exacerbating at an unprecedented speed on both a state-actor level (i.e. Iran and Syria) and on a non-state actor level (i.e. al-Qaeda and its insurgency in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Somalia). The US’ Achilles’ heel has been exposed and al-Qaeda has been targeting it precisely.


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