Somalia's Vicious Cycle

Mohamed Khalifa mourns the tragedy of Somalia, where piracy is helping to fuel a war between various militias and Islamic fundamentalist groups. Meanwhile, the state’s institutions have been all but destroyed, and the people struggle to stave off starvation as food aid is sold to purchase guns and ammunition.

al-monitor A Somali soldier stands at the scene of a suicide car bomb that exploded leaving scores killed and injured near the Muna Hotel, south of the capital of Mogadishu, February 8, 2012. Photo by REUTESR/Ismail Taxta.

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Feb 13, 2012

Civil and regional wars are raging in Somalia. New blocs have emerged and are threatening to send the country spiraling back toward the time of Jahiliyyah (the Arabic name of the pre-Islamic period, often translated as “ignorance of divine guidance”), tribal wars and ethnic and sectarian conflicts. Sectarian conflicts have swept across East Africa and Somalia in particular. However, the greatest crisis lies in that the people are without loyalty to their homeland. The situation has devolved into a crisis of national integration, paving the way for a call to arms and bloody clashes against the central government.

The African regime's practices are at the core of the problem. The absence of justice —  as the result of ignorance, selfishness and inequity — characterize both religious and tribal practices. The conflicting parties no longer heed their consciences. Prejudices remain at the heart of their conflicts, which are further stoked by clan elders and many other prominent and racist leaders. They collect money from piracy and robbery to fund their activities. They provide misinformation and propaganda to the detriment of the Somalian political arena, raising numerous concerns and provoking conflict.

The most dramatic effects of the current economic and political crisis in Somalia will be felt by its people. The crisis is the result of a constitutional vacuum, which has hung like a shadow over the country’s governance since independence. Today, piracy in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean represent a strategic dilemma whose security, economic and political dimensions overlap. The international community must consolidate and coordinate its efforts to the maximum extent possible so as to overcome this challenge.

The latest problem was the hijacking of an Italian oil tanker. At this point, Somali pirates have hijacked 350 ships. The state is incapacitated and battered. It is now paying the price for its failure, and many other countries around the world have been affected.

The Somali tragedy has weighed heavily on the people, for they have lost their sense of citizenship. This crisis was dreamed up by warlords fighting over the power to dominate the country and the people. The Somali war has claimed many lives, spreading poverty, hunger and havoc throughout the country.

What do they seek? They have dragged the country toward destruction and death. They confiscate at gunpoint the food sent to feed the hungry, leaving these people struggling against starvation. Then the warlords sell all the excess looted food to purchase ammunition, while hundreds or even thousands die of hunger.

It is outrageous that the Somalis are being slaughtered at the hands of their criminal fellow citizens, who have turned Somalia into a land where the struggle to survive has become a nightmare, a land where skeletal people waste their lives in starvation, fear and ignorance. Where do Somali warlords stand in the midst of such tragedy? How can they live with this mark of shame on their heads?

How can  human beings be proud to save the life of an animal, while turning a deaf ear to the screams of those crying out for mercy, in constant danger of death? Why do they remain silent before these atrocities committed against their brothers in humanity? Who is to blame for all the misery, for this destructive brutality?

The Somali government has monopolized violence and sedition, further isolating its people. It professed piety and legalized aggression, condoning its every crime and muzzling the voices of the people. Whoever speaks up against the authorities is accused of betrayal and is sentenced to death.

The risk of social destruction is not limited to any one individual or group. Its danger becomes greater when the extreme fundamentalists — slaves of their dogmas and radical doctrines — commit injustices against the public interest and Somali society. This is best demonstrated by the arrest of clean-shaven (perceived as lacking Muslim piety, or not belonging to the Muslim faith) Somalis, who are being killed in cold blood. These killings against non-Muslim Somalis are making headlines, with stories of unspeakable cruelty.

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