Wednesday, June 24, 2009
In an interview yesterday with the Voice of America Somali service, I was asked to comment on the request by the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) for international troops. I responded that I did not believe this is the solution. If foreign forces prop up the TFG, it will only postpone the inevitable and alienate even more Somalis as they do not favor the presence of foreign troops. On the other hand, there are some steps the international community can take. It can step up the training and equipping of Somalis who have aligned with the TFG against the extremist al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam organizations. This is a problem that only Somalis can solve, not outsiders. The international community should make a greater effort to prevent foreign jihadis and military equipment destined for al-Shabaab from entering Somalia. Because of porous borders, this is difficult. It is not clear, however, that much of an effort has been made so far. The interviewer suggested that these steps would take time and the TFG might fall before it has any impact. I acknowledged this is a risk. On the other hand, dramatic change generally does not occur that quickly in Somalia. In addition, I believe most Somalis oppose what al-Shabaab stands for and the role of foreign jihadis. The organization also has its own internal divisions.