I find parallels to Afghanistan in 1996 awfully eerie. Mogadishu has fallen to Islamist fundamentalist fighters. Both countries had been torn apart by civil war and warlords for about 18 years.
In Afghanistan it was the armed religious “students” who said they were going to clean up the country and establish justice. And the world media bought that hook, line, and sinker at first–until the Taliban actually took over and plunged the nation into a long nightmare of government brutality, misogyny, and senseless destruction.
Now it’s the armed “Islamic Courts Union” in Mogadishu. The people rallied in the stadium to send a message to the Islamic Courts’ army to get out of their city, they’re not wanted. Where did these Islamic Courts come from in the first place? In the absence of secular government and law, people began going to qudâh (Islamic judges) to settle disputes. Sounds right out of Heinlein.
But then they were armed–with whose backing? Follow the money!–and went on the rampage. Two of the eleven courts are said to be radical, one with connections to al-Qa‘idah and the other trained in Afghanistan. See, wha’d I tell you? All but one of them are in the same clan, which does not sound good. Somalia just had years of clan-based war. The alliance of clans overthrown by the Islamic Courts was the result of a recent agreement to share power called “Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism,” rumored to have been funded by the USA. If a multi-clan coalition was overthrown by an almost entirely one-clan operation, that does not sound good. The guy in charge of the Islamic Courts, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was reported to be moderate, but then the Taliban were reported to be white knights too, until they showed their true colors: *Bloody. *
I just hope this turns out better for Somalia than the parallel case in Afghanistan. Never again Taliban, dammit! What will happen to women there now?