The NYT today has a story about Somalia and the recent spate of violence against aid workers, both foreign and domestic. At least twenty have been killed this year alone, something that is apparently unprecedented in the two decades since the collapse of the Siad Barre regime. But the funny thing about the killings is that no one can quite figure out who's behind them. Though the attacks are apparently committed by radical Islamists, the groups claiming responsibility are little known. The government maintains that the Islamists are behind it, though they have a good reason to present that picture: the current federal government was put into place on the back of an American-backed, Ethiopian-led invasion of the country that drove the Islamic Courts Union out of power in 2006. But not everyone buys it:
Some Western security analysts theorize that in the violent murkiness that has overtaken the country, unsavory elements within the Somali government may be killing aid workers to discredit Islamist opposition groups and draw in United Nations peacekeepers, who may be the government’s last hope for survival.
The government admits that it desperately needs peacekeepers. But it denies that it is attacking aid workers to get them.
“It’s obvious who’s doing this,” said Abdi Awaleh Jama, a Somali ambassador at large. “It’s hard-liner Islamists who hate the West. They are forces of darkness, not forces of light.”
Considering that foreign intervention in Somalia is always a not-too-distant possibility, and that the current regime was installed by fiat, this theory isn't as crazy as it seems. The scepter of al-Qaeda led the Americans and Ethiopians to invade and expel the ICU two years ago, so hey, maybe it will work again.
Here's the archive of my posts about Somalia, everyone's favorite failed state, which includes a pretty long post I wrote taking the media to task for their uncritical look at how Somalia's fared since it descended into statelessness twenty years ago.