Worldview Item of the Day
So, the fundamentalist Muslims who control the southern portion of Somalia are threatening to attack the home base city of the pirates who hijacked the Sirius Star, an Arab oil tanker carrying an estimated $100 million in crude oil.
The fundamentalists, called the Shebab (or Shebaab or Shabaab) and a reincarnation of the Islamic Courts Union defeated in late 2006 by an incursion of the Ethiopian army, claim that their beliefs require them to do something about the pirates since piracy is a capital crime in the Koran. Yet, one has to wonder why the Shabab has turned a blind eye on the piracy rampant on Somalia’s coast until it was suddenly worth $100 million dollars.
One might conclude that this sudden fierce opposition to piracy might be an attempt to legitimize the Shabab to the world community in the face of the increasing possibility that it is about to overthrow the last vestiges of the UN-sanctioned Transitional Federal Government, thereby passing at least the southern two-thirds of Somalia from anarchy into a Taliban-style Sharia state. While the Shabab may live in a nation in chaos, they are not unaware of the current US view on Taliban-style Sharia states, and they probably hope to soften that view by demonstrating common interest with the US.
Unfortunately, in this case, the enemy of our enemy is not our friend. While Sharia government might bring long-absent law and order to Somalia and might actually help curtail some of the pirate activity based there, it also opens a new front in the long war against Muslim fundamentalist terrorism. There is growing evidence that al-Qaeda and its affiliates in East Africa are already using areas under Shebab control to establish new recruitment, funding, and training networks, and with the full-fledged legitimacy of a government and nation, Somalia could quickly become an Afghanistan-like problem for the West.
This potential problem could be exacerbated by Somalia’s close proximity to Yemen and Saudi Arabia, fertile recruiting grounds for fundamentalist jihadis. Unlike Afghanistan, whose natural distance and landlocked state limited the number of potential recruits, Somalia is a simple boat ride from Yemen. Add to the threat of piracy the threat of terrorism, and a Shabab ruled Somalia looks like a nightmare.
There are no easy solutions to the problems of Somalia and its pirates, but those solutions must involve the free nations of the world refusing to sit back and allow for the existence of a failed state in East Africa or anywhere else. It is the responsibility of free nations to spread and defend the ideals of liberty everywhere they are not already found, by aid or by force, because free societies cannot continue to exist if they allow some people to live in tyranny.
What does this idea mean for Somalia? Frankly, we were on the right track in 1993 when we fled because we could not accept that securing freedom sometimes comes at a high price. Now, the world is paying for its inability to stay the course then with the problems it faces now in Somalia. However, the solution remains the same: the world faces armed thugs in Somalia. Secure the nation, put down the warlords, and keep the nation secure long enough for a legitimate government to take hold, and the threat of piracy and terrorism there both end.
Ironically, the solution in Somalia looks a lot like the one that just succeeded in Iraq. Perhaps as ironically, the whole world has proved it does not have the stomach for that kind of success. I wonder if it has the stomach for the consequences of failure.