A decade into the bloody civil war, which began in 1991 (the second phase of which involved U.S. ground forces as depicted in Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down), a group called the Islamic Courts Union seized power in southern Somalia and promptly declared Sharia Law (sound familiar?). A Transition Federal Government regrouped and pushed back, unseating the ICU, which promptly splintered into a handful of nastier militant Islamic sects. Al-Shabaab, an Al Qaeda connected faction with ideas that make the Taliban seem Jeffersonian, waged a brutal and effective war against the TFG and international forces. Last year, the TFG relented and formed a coalition with "moderate" elements of the ICU (sound familiar?) and promptly reimposed Sharia law. Fighting continues.
Last week, Somalia's problems became everyone's problem when al-Shabaab carried out suicide missions that killed 76 Ugandan civilians.
According to a DPA wire report:
Somalia's Minister of National Security and Regional Development, Ahmed Abdisalam Xaji Adan, believes al-Shabaab, which claims links with al-Qaeda, has proven just how dangerous it is to the wider world.
"A year ago no-one believed they would come to Kampala or Kenya or anywhere else," he told journalists in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. "The threat is there, it is real."
Meanwhile, Shabelle Media Network reports that fighting has flared in Mogadishu, killing 10 and wounding 22. This has led Somalia's president to criticize the international community for doing little to stem the violence and restore order in the terrorist haven.
Despite the U.S. military's establishment of AFRICOM, Americans should not look for engagement in the bloody and heartbreaking struggle of the Somali people for freedom from throat-crushing Islamic rule. The First Battle of Mogadishu was 17 years ago -- though Americans will long remember the images of dismembered Delta operatives and Rangers dragged through the street, knifed to pieces by a celebratory crowd and mounted for public display. And frankly, America has no business in Somalia and no compelling interest in a far-off land's civil war.
But I recall many years ago learning from an NPR report of the tragic demolition of the Buddhas of Bamyan by a barbaric government in some far-off wasteland.
And not long after, Afghanistan's problem became our problem.
Somalia today sounds a little too familiar.