As I waited for my ride to collect me from the Mogadishu airport, an officer told me an apocryphal tale: A starving goat, blind from hunger, mistook a baby wrapped in a green cloth for grass and bit off a mouthful of emaciated flesh from the baby’s upper arm. The baby’s anguished cry brought the mother to her knees and she wept in prayer. The next day, a friend I met in Mogadishu repeated a variation of the same tale.
I saw the story as encapsulating much of what everyone needs to know about the goat-eats-baby severity of the current famine in the Somali Peninsula, with more than six million affected, crops wasting away, livestock dead or dying, water and foods scarce.… Seguir leyendo »
One can’t talk about recent news from Somalia — the deadly attack by Shabab militants on a U.N. compound in June, the decision in August by Doctors Without Borders to pull out of the country, the massacre last month at a shopping mall in Kenya, for which Al Shabab took responsibility — without in some way speaking about Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheik Mohamud.
Just a year into his presidency, Mr. Mohamud has become a darling of the West — his is the first Somali government officially recognized by the United States since 1991, even though it controls only a fraction of the country — and of the oil-rich Arab rulers who want security around the Horn of Africa.… Seguir leyendo »
If the past is anything to go by, TVs the world over will show heart-wrenching pictures of malnourished Somali babies with distended kwashiorkor bellies; of flies feeding on their eyes; of mouths sucking at milkless breasts. Environmental experts will pontificate on the recurrent droughts in Somalia. Aid organizations will canvass the world’s rich to find the funds to feed the starving. Governments will make promises they won’t keep. What has been a tributary of refugees leaving Somalia and entering neighboring Kenya will become a flood. This will be channeled into refugee camps, which will overflow with rivers of human misery.
A couple of years ago, I was visiting my good friend Abdullahi Mohamed Shirwa, a respected civil society leader based in Mogadishu.… Seguir leyendo »
Watching from afar, people find it difficult to understand the intractability of the conflict in Somalia. The cycle of violence, almost mysteriously, remains uninterrupted. Peace breaks out. Victory is declared, as it was a couple of weeks ago when President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed’s Transitional Federal Government declared its triumph over the rival Islamic Courts Union and the clan-based militia fighting alongside it. And then the violence quickly erupts again.
In Somalia, it has been clan versus clan, Muslim Somalis versus Christian Ethiopians, for as long as anyone can remember. A recent United Nations report asserted that a dozen or so countries — Egypt, Eritrea and Iran among them — are engaged in trying to destabilize Somalia.… Seguir leyendo »