Friday, September 24, 2010

Somalia: The Next Afghanistan?

Somalia has not had an effective government for almost 20 years. The Somali government has struggled to gain relevancy, but it has been plagued by corruption and has been battling warlords and militant groups such as the al-Qaeda- linked al-Shabab.

Recently, al-Shabab fighters disguised in Somali military uniforms stormed a hotel favored by lawmakers in the capital Mogadishu, firing indiscriminately and killing 32 people, including six parliamentarians. The attack came after a warning was issued by al-Shabab that a new "massive war" is about to be launched against the government. The militant group wants to establish a Taliban-style Islamic Sharia law in the country.

In a similar attack in December 2009, a suicide bomber detonated himself at a university graduation ceremony about 1.5 miles from the recent hotel attack, killing 24 people, including three government ministers, medical students and doctors.

These attacks show that al-Shabab, which controls wide areas of Somalia, can penetrate even the few blocks of the capital under the control of the government and African Union troops. The situation is reminiscent of Afghanistan before the entire country was overrun by the Taliban.

Is Somalia the next Afghanistan?


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