Saturday, December 5, 2009

Somalia - Forgotten or Not?

On Thursday, the Beep reported a suicide bomb in Somalia; the bomber was allegedly disguised as a woman in an attack that reportedly killed 19 people including the nation's Health Minister, Qamar Aden Ali, Education Minister Ahmed Abdulahi Waayeel and Higher Education Minister Ibrahim Hassan Addow. Also among the dead, the BBC reports, were students and two journalists. This attack is suspected to have been executed by a member of some radical Islamist group, although no one has come forward to claim it. The dissatisfaction running within such groups can be attributed to the idea of having a UN-backed government ruling some of Somalia's territories. But really, does this nation need any more problems? The issue of sea piracy is yet to be resolved and the internationl community doesn't seem to know where to begin to tackle it. Or have they given up?

The BBC reported the African Union (AU) as saying the latest attack would "not deter the resolve and determination of the African Union to support the people of Somalia in their quest for peace and reconciliation."

The AU has been smacked with numerous criticisms in the past for not having a "back bone." This censure hangs on the claim that the AU has failed to act in a timely manner when needed in the past. But does the AU deserve such criticism? Just this year the world witnessed as the organization scrambled to control the conflict in Madagascar as a result of a coup organized by Andry Rajoelina. I was personally impressed by the AU's swift suspension of Madagascar from the organization after conflicts arose in the Indian Ocean Island state and equally impressed to see it re-integrated into the Union after it began to work on a power-sharing government.

Reverting to Somalia, Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke of the nation's UN-backed government, described the recent attack as "vicious and calculated outrage."

Besides religious-toned conflicts, this nation carries wounds so profound that mere funding wouldn't do. I would like to say the African Union can harp all it wants about maintaining peace but if the root of the problem isn't addressed and tackled, Africa will be watching one of its own deteriorate before its eyes.  But it would be unfair to omit the fact that the AU is dealing with a convoluted problem. The African community - as demonstrated by most states - seems to be determined to assist Somalia emerge as a competent participant of the democratic process, but religious conflict encumbers this.

I wish I could say that the world should focus on tackling Somalia's economic problem first -- create jobs to discourage youths from joining rebel groups and falling in love with the world of piracy. But how is this possible when the country screams with instability? Who would even consider investing in Somalia to create economic growth? But what if this never happens; What if, for some reason, Somalia never reaches a place of peace, - hypothetically speaking - what would happen to its sons and daughters?

I am left to ask the questions: What can the AU do better? What can the international community do? What can Somalis do to resolve the conflicts? And what can the average African do to help?                 

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