On Somalia

Earlier this week, The Hegemonist floated a one-step idea for ending piracy off the coast of Somalia – recognizing the northern part of the country, Somaliland, as an independent political entity in exchange for a military base and airfield from which to conduct counter-piracy operations. It’s an interesting – and intriguing – idea, and while I’m not convinced it’s a great idea, it could perhaps work in the short term.

My principal concern is that while Somaliland would be a reasonably stable, reasonably tenable independent state – as The Hegemonist points out, they used to be a independent state, the rest of what is now Somalia – the lawless hellhole areas with no economy to speak of – would devolve still further into chaos and anarchy and disorder, oh my. I also suspect there are fairly ugly political ramifications to such an act, which wouldn’t benefit anyone.

An airfield in the region – in Somalia, Djibouti, or even Yemem, doesn’t make much difference – would, I think, greatly benefit international anti-piracy efforts by enabling the utilization of more meaningful ISR assets, which is a gap I suspect is or could be hampering those efforts. I’m just not convinced that politically splitting Somalia in twain isn’t going to produce yet another regional crisis.

If you’d like to better-educate yourself about this part of the world, I suggest you download and take a look at two sets of training materials produced for the “Horn of Africa” task force – an in-depth introduction to Somalia (8.2MB zip file), and an introduction to Islam in the Horn of Africa (3.2MB zip file). Hey, a little knowledge never hurt anyone…

Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on February 6th, 2009| 2 Comments »

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  1. On 2/7/2009 at 4:53 am T.H. Said:

    You make a good point about the rest of Somalia. I wish I could come up with a better solution for the rest of the country, but after what happened during the Clinton years I think it would be difficult for the US to take meaningful action directly. I just don’t have any good ideas for the rest of the country. It’s a sad, sad situation. Anyway, thanks for the link, I love your blog.

  2. On 2/11/2009 at 8:38 am S Warrener Said:

    It sounds good, but I don’t think it would work simply because Northern Somalia couldn’t stand up to the Islamic Courts, and no other country will be willing to defend it. Better to carpet-bomb a few warlord compounds to change their cost-benefit calculus.