Thursday, April 9, 2009

Your Black News: Somalia Government Has Collapsed

Warlords and militias terrorizing villages. No functioning government, courts or police. Drought and hunger afflicting half the country.

That's the situation in Somalia driving the epidemic of piracy off its coast, experts say. The chaos means there are no easy military or diplomatic solutions for the U.S. and allies to prevent attacks such as the one on the Maersk Alabama on Wednesday.

"There are not any straightforward or obvious answers," said Chris Albin-Lackey, a senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. Piracy "is, at the end of the day, a symptom of state collapse."

Jendayi Frazer, who was assistant secretary of State for African Affairs in George W. Bush's administration, said, "The idea that we could police that area through ships is not working. The problem is not in the sea — it's on the shore."

But international efforts to establish stability in Somalia have foundered.

The African Union has about 3,000 peacekeepers in Somalia tasked with keeping order in the capital, Mogadishu, but they are ineffective, said Jennifer Cooke, who directs the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank. Regular U.S. troops haven't been on the ground in the country since just after the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993, in which 18 Americans died. That battle, immortalized in the filmBlack Hawk Down, left Americans with "psychic scars" about putting troops in Africa, Cooke said.

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