Magazine article Newsweek

It's Time to Leave Somalia

Magazine article Newsweek

It's Time to Leave Somalia

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Bast

Somalia has become synonymous with the term "failed state." Even now, after nearly two decades of civil war and a dismaying string of failed foreign interventions, the end of the country's long humanitarian catastrophe seems no closer. Recently, Western security experts have begun to warn that the capital city, Mogadishu, could be overrun by Al-Shabab, an armed Islamic extremist group the U.S. government says has ties to Al Qaeda. In the past two months, more than 200,000 people have fled fighting between Al-Shabab and a 4,300-strong African Union peacekeeping force. Last week Al-Shabab gunmen overran a U.N. compound in the city of Baidoa, expelling the international agencies there, including aid workers. Alarmed, Washington recently sent $5 million worth of munitions to help the badly outmatched blue helmets. Now various groups inside and outside the country are calling for more foreign assistance.

But the last thing Somalia needs is additional outside interference. Instead, the world should pull out its forces. Again and again, foreign intervention there has only made conditions worse. Ethiopia's three-year war with Somalia's insurgents, which ended in January, managed only to empower the hardline Islamists. Likewise, the presence of the African Union force has made the insurgents seem stronger and more unified. (Meanwhile, the U.N.-approved transitional government the AU is meant to support remains largely impotent and controls just a few streets in Mogadishu. …

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