Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Green Terror

The NYTimes has a gut-wrenching review of the situation in Somalia.
Much of the Horn of Africa has been struck this summer by one of the worst droughts in 60 years. But two Shabab-controlled parts of southern Somalia are the only areas where the United Nations has declared a famine, using scientific criteria of death and malnutrition rates.
The Shabab - dudes or young men in Arabic - are a nasty hybrid of street gangs, old-school warlords, and self-righteous Salafi sheikhs. They terrorize outsiders a little, and terrorize Muslim Somalis daily.
The Shabab Islamist insurgent group, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape Shabab territory. The group is widely blamed for causing a famine in Somalia by forcing out many Western aid organizations, depriving drought victims of desperately needed food. The situation is growing bleaker by the day, with tens of thousands of Somalis already dead and more than 500,000 children on the brink of starvation.

People from those areas who were interviewed in Mogadishu say Shabab fighters are blocking rivers to steal water from impoverished villagers and divert it to commercial farmers who pay them taxes. The Shabab are intercepting displaced people who are trying to reach Mogadishu and forcing them to stay in a Shabab-run camp about 25 miles outside the city. The camp now holds several thousand people and receives only a trickle of food.
Sharia law, in any manifestation of which I am aware, is 'morality for thee but not for me.' When the stringent laws of 7th-century Arabia are married to the Al-Qaeda credo of absolution through jihad, they metastasize into a diabolical terror of hedonistic puritanism, where the most guilty flog the most innocent in a bloody quest for the forgiveness of their own sins.

1 comment:

Chops said...

The ethical question here is whether the Christian and humanist West should give food and water directly to the Shabab, since they make it unsafe for us to administer it ourselves.

I would say not: we should only give things that are nearly useless to the strong and powerful, such as baby formula, infant-sized hospital beds, and specific medications. And every single thing we give ought to be indelibly imprinted with UN, American, Red Cross, or Somalian Transitional Government symbols. Let the people know: the outside world cares more about them than the Shabab or the warlords.