It may seem trivial to talk about a troubled African country in the face of all the troubling – more germane troubling news of the day. But in these tempestuous times it’s important to acknowledge not just how bad things might be for us, but how bad they’re getting all over the world.
Somali and the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) have probably been the two most troubled places in Africa over my entire lifetime. America holds great responsibility in both cases for the bad situations that began at Independence, and now for the situations as they worsen.
America and its partners at the start of the Cold War, post-colonial era really screwed up both the DRC and Somalia, assassinating populist leaders and making nefarious deals with local tribal mafias.
But then things finally changed starting in the late 1990s. Since then there’s been real attempts to undo some of the bad stuff and help these countries get going, again.
Because Somalia attracted all the Taliban and al-Qaeda fleeing the war in Afghanistan, American administrations – Republican and Democrat – directed more and more resources to getting Somalia stable.
Obama, actually, was the most militaristic and I’m not sure I subscribe to that technique to achieve stability. But the fact was that it was working.
With a good number of boots on the ground and many more in secret booths and cubby holes around the world, and with the Kenyan military as our proxy, al-Shabaab – the offshoot of al-Qaeda – was defeated. By the end of 2016 there was a real feeling among world diplomats that Somalia was going to make it.
Then came the Trump administration. In office less than two months Trump began the most concentrated and then wholly unnecessary military campaigns in Africa ever undertaken by America.
Some people said he was using Africa for practice.
African countries from west to north to east to south were destabilized. As I said I have doubts any military action can solve anything, but at least the Obama administration followed its big sticks with big carrots. For Trump there was nothing but guns.
So today may mark the moment that the western world finally lost Somalia.
Ahmed Mohamed Madobe is the effective warlord of the Ras Kamboni militia. While it’s true that made him a fierce enemy of al-Shabaab, he is effectively the same kind of guy as those leading al-Shabaab.
Prior to Trump, the UN and its partners including the U.S. and Europe were doing everything possible to prepare different parts of Somalis for free elections, or at least elections that had a truer, greater representation than the butt of an AK-47.
Today Madobe staged an election and made himself ruler of the most important province in Somalia, Jubbaland, which includes the country’s main port of Kismayo.
Nobody stopped him. The UN administrator in Somalia said some sad words and then yesterday the Somali government in Mogadischu effectively broke the country apart, again, but suspending all flights into Kismayo.
So the “country” is devolving once again into warlord kingdoms. As I say again, I was never convinced that military action of any kind would do the trick, here, but at least until Trump there was something else being tried, too.
Now, it’s just Trump’s law of the jungle: Bang.Bang. And guess what? Guess who’s losing?