Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Leaving Somalia in the Lurch

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Leaving Somalia in the Lurch

Article excerpt

LEAVING Somalia before it is indigenously governed, or governable, is a serious mistake. The three major warlords in southern Somalia covet national hegemony and will stop at nothing less. Only a well-armed, determined United Nations presence will deter the resumption of bloodshed, food shortages, and chaos.

The last of United States troops, once numbering 28,000 and now 4,000, are scheduled to depart from Somalia no later than the end of March. About 2,000 may be stationed on ships offshore. The Italians have removed their troops; so have the French and the Turks. Soon only lightly armed Pakistanis, Indians, and Malaysians will stand between innocent Somalis and mayhem.

That Western nations should want to pull their soldiers out of Somalia is understandable. The Somali warlord factions, especially in Mogadishu, have steadily refused to be pacified or disarmed. Ever since the US scaled back its forces almost a year ago and turned the humanitarian mission into a UN peacekeeping operation, the forces of Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed, Mohamed Ali Mahdi, and Col. Omar Jess have bided their time, hidden their arms, and largely succeeded in defying outsiders. They have continued to extort and, on occasion, to loot.

The loss of US and Italian lives, however limited, proved politically poisonous at home. No Western nation, least of all the US, can sustain a distant military operation politically when the local populace is hostile and seemingly so undeserving. Nor can the UN impose its will or introduce more than a veneer of order when Security Council members abandon the operation.

Yet as understandable as a scaling back of the UN effort in Somalia may be, it is excessively short-sighted. An undermanned and underarmed UN force will be unable to prevent renewed factional fighting across Mogadishu's green line. Already, aid workers in Mogadishu and in once-peaceful outlying centers have been harassed and attacked. Humanitarian workers will increasingly be targeted for assault. Their aid activities will be disrupted and a large rural population, until recently well-off compared to conditions a year ago, again will be put at risk. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.