The Failed State: Somalia

With such a vibrant classification as “Failed”, the global populace can only imagine the wonders that exist in the anarchist chaos of Somalia.

Since the outbreak of the Civil War in 1991, which brought about the end of the Mohamed Siad Barre’s regime, the Transitional Federal Government has only been able to maintain a semblance of stability with in small portion of the territory known as Somalia.  The nation as a whole has been lost to anarchy, classically defined as political and social disorder due to the absence of government. Clearly, the imbalance of the nigh nonexistent political system and the evident existence of “State of Nature” (man vs man, due to the lack of a supervising power) in Somalia serves as a perfect locale to launch the “Social Issues” label.

Somalia has grappled with civil war and ineffective government since 1991.  This has left the majority of southern portion under the control of the militia known as al-Shabab, a terrorist organization that seems to run on a simple principle of: “kill infidels, kill Somalia, rule over whatever is left as an Islamic emirate”.  Despite the clear evidence of being a terrorist organization, al-Shabab further illustrates its “unique” perspective on reality by interrupting foreign aid routes to the undernourished throughout the nation.  This has been successful in allocating all resources towards the militia, widespread starvation, killing tens of thousands of children (clearly all infidels), and alienating Somalia from future foreign aid.  Consequently, bad media attention has caught the eye of the terrorist organization and they have truly made an effort to turn around. Negotiations between international powers and Al-Shabab have been successful in mediating growing tensions and the militia group has confirmed that it will reopen its blockade of aid routes.  Evidently, terrorist groups and international organizations are better at negotiating than political parties within the same country.

Moreover, to divert attention from terrorism and sarcastic pessimism, the UN has taken action to transport aid to the famine struck people of Somalia.  The official declaration of famine comes months after one of the worst droughts in centuries in the Horn of Africa. Although the UN should have taken preemptive action to counter or ease the impact of  the current famine, the countries have banded together to give million in aid to the country.  Has too much time passed? According to the regional director of Oxfam, Fran Equiza, “there has been a catastrophic breakdown of the world’s collective responsibility to act”.  Furthermore, Equiza states that there has been a $800 million shortfall in funding and he criticizes the UN in that “by the time the UN calls it a famine, it is already a signal of large-scale loss of life”.  As stated previously, a preemptive action after the drought a few months back would have been in order but due to the rapid decline in Somalia, the actions taken now must be substantial and involved.  For example, the US has announced a mission to bring $431 million in food to the impoverished people, as well as $28 million in aid.

Nevertheless, the existence of boundless anarchy within the region of Somalia and the large scale presence of al-Shabab has limited the response of the US, the largest supporter of UN aid to troubled regions such as Somalia.  The US Office of Foreign Assets Control has been concerned about the diversion of aid by Islamist militants, and has imposed  restrictions on agencies working in areas controlled by al-Shabab, going so far as to freeze some funding in March 2009.   This mirrors the current actions taken by the House Foreign Affairs Committee to slice $6.4 billion from the State Department and foreign operations budget.

In retrospect, the structured political and social arenas of the West have collided in a failed state in which social and political disorder are common practice.  With famine and drought widespread, Somalia’s problems are wide ranged and require a multifaceted relief package with wide spread contributions balanced among various international agencies.

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