The United States entered Somalia with U.N. forces in late 1992 after the regime of Siad Barre collapsed and left by 1995 when it became obvious that no amount of U.N. intervention could help rebuild a state when there was a civil war going on. For some time, nothing happened U.S. intervention wise. In the last decade, however, the U.S. re-inserted itself into Somalia; backing the Ethiopian and African troops who came into Mogadishu in late 2006 to oust the Islamic Courts Union, a sharia coalition that had taken power in the former Somali capital. The most dangerous element of the Islamic Courts Union, the youth wing Al-Shabab, split off from the ICU after the Ethiopian-U.S. invasion. Six years later, Al-Shabab has become an official franchise of Al-Qaeda and the impetus for continued U.S. intervention, with President Obama for the first time admitting a U.S. military presence in Somalia in his most recent war powers letter to Congress.
The Cato Institute’s Malou Innocent explains where we are now:
Today, the United States fights al-Shabab by proxy. The group poses no direct threat to the security of the United States; however, exaggerated claims about the specter of al Qaeda could produce policy decisions that exacerbate a localized, regional problem into a global one. Amid news that African troops are doing the fighting, but that “The United States is doing almost everything else,” African Union forces could be seen as a puppet proxy of Uncle Sam.
Washington is supplementing the training of African troops with private contractors. Outsourcing makes intervention easier, as policymakers can hide the costs of a mission they have yet to clearly define. Intervention on the cheap also becomes costly in other ways. For a commander in chief who allegedly believes he should take moral responsibility for America’s lethal counterterrorism operations, privatizing intervention allows him and his administration to escape accountability should the forces we train, or the weapons we provide, turn against us or our allies.
Like moths to a flame, disparate Somali groups may rally around the perception they are fighting against the injustice of foreign meddling. Moreover, while military analysts were boasting back in June that al-Shabab could be facing the end of its once-powerful rule, questions surrounding what form of political stability will fill the al-Shabab vacuum remain unasked and unanswered.
Read the whole thing here.
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