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The University of Texas at Austin

Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs



Letter to the Editor

America's Role in Somalia's Problems

Washington Post, December 3, 2007

The Nov. 27 editorial "Desperate Somalia" rewrote history by stating: "A year ago there was hope that Somalia could be stabilized for the first time since 1991, after Ethiopian troops routed the forces of the Islamic Courts movement."

In reality, most of Somalia was stabilized in 2006 by the Islamic Courts movement itself, which reopened Mogadishu's port and ensured the physical security of Somalis for the first time in more than a decade.

Unfortunately, Washington then flashed a green light to the Ethiopian army to invade Somalia, assisted by U.S. airstrikes, triggering the current humanitarian disaster that the United Nations characterizes as the worst in Africa, Darfur included.

Washington pursued this military course because of alleged ties between some leaders of Somalia's Islamic Courts and al-Qaeda but before engaging in serious diplomacy to determine whether the courts would sever any ties that did exist.

The Post has every right to support this ill-advised course, but only George Orwell would characterize the Ethiopian troops as a force for stability when in fact they were precisely the opposite.

Copyright 2007 Washington Post