A country ripped by violence for more than 2 decades can be traced back to a religious clash in 1980, causing the split of the country into five regions. Before the clash, Somalia’s colonial master-France, contributed in no small measure to the underdevelopment and violence which today threatens to destroy the horn of Africa. Without a functioning central government in nearly 2 decades the absence of the legislature, judiciary and security has only exacerbated the situation in Somalia

The citizens on their part faced with a weakened economy which has seen their primary source of livelihood-fishing, disappear without a trace have resorted to violence in order eke a living. Piracy off the Gulf of Aden has become a booming business. Last year alone the pirates made away with ransom bounty totaling approximately 80 million dollars.

But the west has also had its own fair share of blame in this saga. Fishing is no longer a visible option for locals; toxic waste dumped into the sea by major multi-national companies has resulted in the decimation of several thousand fish off the Somali coast.

On October 7 2008, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1831 calling on nations with vessel in the area to apply military force to repress the act of piracy. A month later, Somali pirates began hijacking vessels well outside the Gulf of Aden. This sea faring piracy war doesn’t appear to be abating, going by the increase in the number of hijacked vessels in recent weeks

Kenya’s foreign minister recently announced that last year’s 80 million dollars ransom figure is about to be eclipsed going by recent data. 150 million dollars ransom money to date and the year is not yet over. Military escorts are being provided for commercial vessels which ply the dreaded route but they aren’t enough to cover the entire area. Worse still apprehended pirates are set free because the international naval forces do not have the mandate to arrest pirates.

There have being reports of clashes between Somali forces and the Islamists. In august 2008, a combined task force of 150 multinational companies took on the role of fighting the pirates. They also established a security patrol at sea. Threat posed by the pirate has increased concern for the people across the continents whose vessels ply the Gulf of Aden.

The Somali issue definitely cannot be resolved with a silver bullet. Ensuring a functioning judicial system in Mogadishu would ensure that all perpetrators; pirates and their patrons would be dealt with decisively. The AU can provide the logistic support for a UN force which could ensure the fragile Al Shabbab government doesn’t blow out in the wind. The process should accept the fact that there is neither good nor bad, the parties should encourage territorial trusteeship between the parties and also provide opportunity for employment. Painful and procedural this may all seem but the US foreign aid plans for Somalia could all be gold dust at the feet of the beggar without providing the necessary conducive environment and structure for genuine democracy to thrive



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