In an especially perceptive NYT piece today, Jeffrey Gettleman probes current U.S. policy toward Somalia in a way that calls into question tacit American support for Ethiopian military involvement there. His appraisal suggests that by opposing the Islamic Courts movement and endorsing a one-sided U.N. Security Council resolution that partially lifts the arms embargo in a way favoring the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), we are feeding the popular animosity toward the West that spoiled Operation Restore Hope and led to "Black Hawk Down."
Gettleman points out that, while Ethiopia increases its troop levels inside Somalia in support of the TFG, the Islamists continue to broaden their support among the Somali populace:
In Mogadishu the Islamists are continuing their hearts-and-minds campaign, organizing neighborhood cleanups, delivering food to the needy and resuscitating old national institutions like the Supreme Court, which was given a fresh coat of paint and reopened in October.He continues:
Streets that were clogged with years of debris are now clear and bureaucracy is budding, with more rules and more paperwork, including forms at the airport that ask name, age, nationality and religion — Muslim or non-Muslim being the only choices.He also quotes Ibrahim Hassan Addou, whom he describes as foreign minister for the Islamists and an American citizen of Somali descent:
Moderates were backed into a corner by an American-led campaign to discredit and isolate the Islamic administration. . . . Everybody was against us from the beginning, and now we have no choice but to fight . . . . What I don’t understand is why the whole world is trying to throw its weight behind a government that has been totally rejected by its own people.