Global Politics

U.S. policy in Somalia

This researcher for Refugees International who made it into Somalia recently says since Ethiopia went into Somalia in 2006 conditions for regular Somalis have sharply deteriorated. He fears that American airstrikes only make things worse: it encourages political dialogue and on the other it is taking unilateral action. Part of the reason for anti-Americanism in Somalia is the collateral damage; 10-30 people were killed in today's U.S. air strike. But in addition, the US is seen as backing Somalia's long term adversary and neighbor, Ethiopia which is also accused of serious human rights violations in Somalia. But the US doesn't have many good options in this part of Africa and this analyst says because of 9/11, the US has chosen to focus on counter-terrorism first and foremost in this region. The man says going after alleged terrorists makes sense in the short term but in the long term it can just radicalize local populations. He doesn't see how the situation in Somalia can turn around without a more concerted effort which involves state building and peacekeeping. The UN is currently taking the lead on trying to do that and trying to strengthen the current government. This Refugees International official says the conditions right now present a unique political window for negotiations, but he worries the airstrike today compromises that window.

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