Why drought in Somalia is not our problem
Published 14/07/2011 | 05:00
Even by the deranged standards of non- discussable African issues, the dilemma that the West now faces in Somalia is exquisitely hideous. Drought has returned there yet again, putting the lives of millions at risk. What has not returned, having remained there throughout, and meanwhile increasing its hold on the population there, is the al-Qa'ida offshoot al-Shabaab.
Contacts between UN relief agencies and al-Shabaab have already taken place. Mark Bowden, the UN co-ordinator for Somalia, said this week: "Our staff are in contact with al-Shabaab at a local level -- we now need to see what assurances and security guarantees they can give."
My guess is, a lot. Why wouldn't the local al-Qa'ida franchisee give every possible guarantee to an organisation that will in return feed and protect its volunteers, its infrastructure and the local population pool that it needs to stay alive? How difficult A) is it for even the thickest Islamists to see that it is in their interest to behave like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm while the drought threatens to exterminate them, and so destroy their ability to wage war on the West? And B) how thick must they think the West is to comply with this strategy? The answers to these two questions are A) not very, and B) incredibly.