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... to think it's time the world sorted out Somalia?

(70 Posts)
CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 13-Sep-11 08:01:00

Bandits, murderers, pirates, kidnappers, a hotbed for terrorism ... Somalia is like a vicious boil on the face of Africa. Where is the League of African Nations? The UN?

aldiwhore Tue 13-Sep-11 08:04:14

Where indeed. I don't think we're in a position to sort them at the moment, what with all the other conflict going on, the other unwinnable wars. But if ever there was a country that needs 'sorting' its Somalia. I'd probably even support a war there... unlike the other recent wars.

The million dollar question though is, is there any money in it? Grr.

Maisiethemorningsidecat Tue 13-Sep-11 08:17:11

Well, you know, we would....if there was any monetary benefit for us in doing so. Since there isn't we'll adopt the hands off and head in the sands approach.

JajasWolef Tue 13-Sep-11 08:29:48

There is money in it for the countries close to Somalia though, Kenya of course being the obvious one. It is devastating for their economy for kidnappings to occur on their soil.

I can't stop thinking about Judith Tebbit and the hell she and her family must be going through at the moment.

Whatmeworry Tue 13-Sep-11 08:33:53

The US tried....and came out with a bloody nose black hawk down etc

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 13-Sep-11 08:45:28

I don't think it's necessarily a job for the US or Western countries directly but we should be putting pressure on the LAN to step in and clean up the mess in their own back yard. A lot of countries are paying out ransom money to release hijacked ships. Innocent tourists like the Tebbits and, before them, the Chandlers have been kidnapped and worse. Somali nationals won't benefit if investors run a mile. Lots of different motivations to act but... nothing happens.

scaryteacher Tue 13-Sep-11 09:55:09

There would be monetary benefit in so doing - to the insurance companies, and the companies who pay out the ransoms.

We aren't putting out heads in the sand - we have ships there and are involved in anti-piracy patrols, but the problem is it is someone's interests to keep Somalia like this. If the pirates are making so much money from ransoming ships and people, why is it still going on? Haven't they made enough? The money trail needs to be followed very carefully. Where does all this ransom money go?

notcitrus Tue 13-Sep-11 10:04:30

Lovely idea.
Any idea how?

slavetofilofax Tue 13-Sep-11 10:07:00

The rest of Africa should be doing something to sort it out, certainly. But it's not something that the UK should get involved in.

dreamingbohemian Tue 13-Sep-11 10:14:56

Scary has hit it on the head -- from our perspective, Somalia is a big problem, but there on the ground there are loads of people profiting from the chaos and violence (or who have an incentive to continue the violence in the hopes of profiting more down the line).

There are a lot of people involved in piracy so they will never have made 'enough' money, in the same way that the drugs trade goes on and on.

The money gets distributed throughout a patronage network and the profits end up in offshore banks, or funneled into construction projects in the Gulf, or casinos, or what have you. It's a business like any other really.

The US and Europe are not going to put boots on the ground again, not after what happened last time. They are using drones against terrorist targets however.

The African Union does not have the capabilities really to take care of this on their own. Neighbouring countries are loathe to get involved -- a few years ago, Ethiopia invaded and stemmed the violence for a bit, Uganda sent peacekeepers, but they have both suffered violence and terrorism as a result.

Interestingly, one corner of Somalia -- Somaliland -- is doing quite well. So there is a lot of thought that we should give up on keeping a unified Somalia, abandon the transitional government approach, and encourage smaller governing entities to emerge. But countries can't really support this because it undermines the whole nation-state principle that is the basis for their power and legitimacy.

It's a mess, I wish there was more political will to do something but I don't think anything will really be done.

Whatmeworry Tue 13-Sep-11 10:19:56

The rest of Africa should be doing something to sort it out, certainly. But it's not something that the UK should get involved in

By and large its not the rest of Africa's shipping that is being disrupted smile

If the Rich West really wanted to sort out Somali shipping piracy, they could.

I agree with the suggestion of "Follow the money" - or lack of it, wait and see what would happen if they discovered oil grin

dreamingbohemian Tue 13-Sep-11 10:31:15

The West is doing loads about the piracy already, on the seas, they have their navies out, the ships are hiring mercenaries. That's why you see the pirates having to go farther and farther out and developing new tactics and targets (like now apparently, actually raiding targets on land more).

But they're not going to sort out the problem on land. It would be another Afghanistan and there is no stomach for it anywhere.

A1980 Tue 13-Sep-11 10:38:00

Given their attitude, I doubt they'd want help to be "sorted out" and you can't force it on them.

They are in the grip of a severe famine, the worst in more than a generation and yet al-shabaab took exception to some of the donated food. Samosa's were a sore point for them even though samosas are not a western creation in origin. They said that the triangle represented the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and anyone caught eating them would be punsihed severely. Never mind that your people are starving to death.

How are you going to fix that sort of lunacy?

scaryteacher Tue 13-Sep-11 11:39:46

You have two problems here. The money trail needs to be followed and then the accounts frozen, so the money can't be accessed. We need to know who the accounts belong to, and if it is other Nation states, then that needs to be publicised and diplomatic sanctions taken; or if they belong to individuals/businesses, then prosecutions need to be brought.

Dh is a military officer, and he says he can understand why the Somalians have turned to piracy, as their fishing has been taken away, so they have no livelihood, so they have nothing literally to lose. However, if you call for large scale military involvement you will have a problem with the Jihadists/al-Shabaab who don't care if they die and thus are a risk to our troops; there will be civilian casualties, which will bring the liberal handwringers out of the woodwork; and you risk upsetting the AU and hard line Muslim nations who will say it is persecuting their brothers, though I don't see how al-Shabaab letting then starve is any less persecution.

I also totally agree with A1980; you have to change the mindset/lunacy that prevails. I sometimes think that Africa needs to be left alone completely to sort itself out, and only then will we see some order achieved. By completely I mean no aid, no intervention, of any kind, but then I also think that we can't just abandon people to their fate.

dreamingbohemian Tue 13-Sep-11 15:11:09

There is a growing school of thought within the development world that aid and intervention are part of the problem. Some convincing stuff.

For me, though, I think it would be not only immoral but hypocritical to completely abandon Africa. For centuries we have taken what we wanted from them -- we kidnapped millions of them for the slave trade, stole their land for their resources, imposed brutal colonial regimes, sparked Cold War proxy wars... and still today, our multinationals pollute their land and encourage corrupt regimes, we turn a blind eye to genocide, even the peacekeepers we send make things worse.

If we are going to leave Africa alone, then I think we should really leave them alone, i.e. let them keep their own resources, stop supporting dictators, shut down the transnational drug trades that our citizens create, etc.

As long as we are part of the problem, we need to try to be part of the solution too.

JajasWolef Wed 14-Sep-11 10:13:07

Surely it would just end up in a total bloodbath if Africa were left to her own devices? These warlords, why does this seem so endemic in Africa? I spent many months there (in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya) and then flew to India for a few more months - I was blown away at how different the attitude of the Indians was to so many of the African countries. Sometimes the people in Africa seem so resigned to their fate - has aid contributed to this? The Indians are so much more industrious, motivated, hard working, inovative etc.

Just my very unscientific observations.

dreamingbohemian Wed 14-Sep-11 10:38:15

Maybe aid is part of it, but they also have very different historical and colonial experiences. Africa was colonised much earlier and decimated by the slave trade. Also, it is still in the interests of many to keep Africans passive because it is mainly their natural resources that are sought.

Warlords are so common, in part, because during decolonisation and the Cold War, Western countries propped up certain warlords and dictators to further their own interests. This established a set of people and processes in these countries that keeps going even now.

I'm not saying it is all the fault of the West, just that we did a lot of awful things and can't be surprised that it's all still a mess.

(btw I've been to Malawi too -- really enjoyed it! I think a lot of the passivity there stemmed more from mass unemployment, lack of jobs or any other economic activity, corruption and poverty, high HIV rates...)

JajasWolef Wed 14-Sep-11 18:07:42

I agree dreamingbohemian, that the passivity does come from a lack of anything to 'do'. No sense of industriousness.

Al0uiseG Wed 14-Sep-11 18:26:26

I'm inclined to leave Africa to sort it's own problems and evolve naturally. That is until I see some footage of starving children, it's a tricky situation.

dreamingbohemian Thu 15-Sep-11 10:42:34

Yes, there is nothing to be industrious about. No jobs, and even if you wanted to start your own business, no one has any money to buy your stuff.

Obviously some people get by but there's just not enough economic activity to go around.

Blueberties Thu 15-Sep-11 10:47:10

I'm not a big fan of colonialism, even by stealth. It doesn't go down that well.

Rosa Thu 15-Sep-11 10:52:51

But what can Somalia offer the west ? There is no benefit for them to get involved . I admire the charities who are trying like mad to help the starving but getting blocked , food / aid stolen - The Somalian govenment refuse to belive that there is a problem......

Blueberties Thu 15-Sep-11 10:56:20

Some of these replies are really stereotyping nations. Hang-wringing over the hopeless Africans and praising the marvellous Indians. It's a thin line.

Blueberties Thu 15-Sep-11 11:03:00

To say the problem of warlords is a western-created problem is wrong, I think; that's a tribal issue. The difference made by outsiders is the availability of weapons and funding.

<tuppenceworth>

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 15-Sep-11 11:14:32

'what can Somalia offer the west?'

Which is why I suggested the League of African Nations might be better placed to act. The latest kidnapping and murder taking place in a Kenyan resort will have scared off a lot of potential tourists on whom Kenya relies, for example. Other countries bordering Somali will be affected for similar reasons. If the 'nuisance neighbour' has the potential to threaten everyone's livelihood, you'd think that would be an incentive.

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