Everything's Sunny in Somalia


The LA Times' Edmund Sanders has a bleak report from inside Mogadishu, finding that a plan to get rebels to turn in their guns to the Ethiopia-backed government is going nowhere.

At one designated weapons drop-off point in the Somalian capital, bored-looking Ethiopian soldiers milled about with little to do. A second collection site, nestled on a bluff overlooking the Indian Ocean, closed early because "no one showed up," a Somalian government soldier said.

… if Tuesday's turnout was any indication, the government is facing a steep challenge to persuade Mogadishu residents to part with their weapons. The campaign is reigniting long-standing clan rivalries and distrust, which are certain to play a big part in the nation's turnaround.

Neoconservatives and their fellow travellers would argue that this doesn't matter; as Ralph Peters wrote, "Will the Islamic Courts Movement resort to terror and guerrilla operations? You bet. But trust me: They would've preferred to stay in power." But it depends on your view of the problem in Somalia. Did the presence of an Islamic government create, as Peters argues, a safe haven for al Qaeda that we've now smoked out? Or does the scattering of the rebels across the country present a long-term, maybe insurmountable challenge for the West? The victory cheers you're hearing about Somalia don't sound too different than what you heard about Iraq in 2003.