Somalia Begs for Invasion

The New York Times reports that Somalia’s Parliament has asked its neighbors for military intervention.

Somali lawmakers pleaded Saturday for international military intervention within 24 hours to help fight Islamic insurgents in the lawless African nation, where fierce fighting has resumed in the capital.

The Parliament is clearly losing its grip to violent opposition, but the question is whether their call for intervention makes any sense in terms of security.

US policy there, as I have mentioned before, seems to have been about unfettered aim at anti-American groups and targets. Air and missile strikes in Somalia, as well as clandestine operations, might be seen by Washington to be a great way to illuminate the shadowy pockets of Al Qaeda, but it motivates local populations to be even more anti-American (like Al Shabab) and fuels lawless profiteering (piracy). The Ethiopian incursion, which was supposedly requested by the parliament at that time, not only failed to stabilize the situation but led to a failure of government. Ethiopia’s occupation and then withdrawal (arguably more about U.S. anti-terror operations than nation-building) ended with another vacuum of power and the loss of government, not preservation…which brings us back to today’s question.

The U.S. military strategy in the Horn has failed, Ethiopia’s invasion failed, Kenya is unlikely to want to take on unilateral action and an even greater refugee situation, and I can not see Djibouti officially involved in anything (although it is quietly involved in everything related to French policy in Africa). The African Union (AU) mission in Somalia, however, seems to have been successful enough for the United Nations to call it sufficient. This is something the Somali government should not dismiss lightly. A call for greater AU involvement would make the most sense for defending the country’s government. Perhaps the reason for calling upon neighbors for invasion instead of increased AU presence is related to regional politics. A test of the AU is whether it can navigate through Eritrea’s influence on the Horn. Nonetheless, given U.S. and Ethiopian examples, the AU seems like the best option at this point to help stabilize the city and state.

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