The sharks are back in town
MOGADISHU: President Abdullahi Yusuf has admitted Islamist insurgents now control most of Somalia, and he raised the prospect that his government could completely collapse.
Islamists have been slowly advancing on the capital, raising the stakes in their two-year rebellion and undermining fragile UN-brokered peace talks to end 17 years of chaos in the Horn of Africa nation. A grenade attack Sunday killed four people and injured nine others in Baidoa, the government’s seat.
“Most of the country is in the hands of Islamists and we are only in Mogadishu and Baidoa, where there is daily war,” Yusuf told some of his legislators in neighboring Kenya on Saturday.
His remarks were aired by Somali media late Saturday.
“We, ourselves, are behind the problems and we are accountable in this world and in the hereafter. Islamists have been capturing all towns and now control Elasha. It is every man for himself if the government collapses.
The Islamists kill city cleaners, they will not spare legislators,” Yusuf said….
Quite so. But why do they kill city cleaners? Apparently it was because they are employees of the government they oppose. This does raise the question of whether they will replace the city cleaners, or let the city putrefy in Sharia purity.
The insurgents have been enforcing a strict form of Islamic law in areas they capture. On Saturday, they whipped 32 people for taking part in a traditional dance in rebel-held territory south of the capital.
Last month, they stoned to death a young woman accused of adultery in the southern port of Kismayu. It was the first such public killing by the hard-line militants for about two years….
Meanwhile, the insurgency continues. “Three women and a baby died after Islamists hurled two hand grenades at police patrolling Baidoa’s main market on Sunday,” Abdihakim Abdi, chief of police operations, said.
A Somali aid worker was also critically injured when gunmen shot him in the head in Merka, a port city captured by the rebels Wednesday.
Islamists ruled Mogadishu and most of south Somalia for half of 2006. Allied Ethiopian and Somali government forces toppled them but they have waged an Iraq-style guerrilla campaign since then, gradually taking back territory.
As when they controlled the capital in 2006, the Islamists are again providing much-needed security in many areas, but are unpopular with many moderate Muslims in Somalia for also imposing fundamentalist practices….
There again is that much-used and little-understood term, “moderate Muslims.” Here it seems to refer to those who adhere to the cultural and syncretistic form of Islam that has held sway in Somalia for quite some time. Unfortunately, however, this is not founded upon any authoritative interpretation of the Islamic texts, and as such these people are always vulnerable to a challenge to the authenticity of their Islam. And they are being challenged, every day, in Somalia now.