#  Some News from Somalia

April 18th, 2008 | In Worth Knowing 

I’ve been completely remiss about sharing actual news this week, so to begin to pay back that debt, two slightly different views about the current — and thoroughly underreported — debacle in Somalia.

For Newsweek, Scott Johnson put together a piece that compares the situation to Iraq. How good or bad that comparison seems to you probably has a fair bit to do with how good or bad Iraq seems to you. A sample:

“Every year this fighting continues, the situation worsens,” says Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Abdul Salaam of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government. The Islamists’ eviction in 2006 left a power vacuum that the U.N.-backed government still hasn’t managed to fill. Ethiopian troops are loathed as occupiers and rarely leave their heavily fortified bases. And al-Shabaab has broken off from the Courts to wage a brutal and effective insurgency. The guerrillas have overrun at least eight Somali towns this year and control parts of the capital. Where once they brought order to Somalia, they now gleefully spread chaos.

Meanwhile, The Economist is more sanguine:

So Somalia is not yet a lost cause. After 17 years of anarchy and bloodshed, its GDP per person is still higher than Ethiopia’s or Eritrea’s. Somali traders still influence the price of commodities across the region. The country limps on, even without much aid; the trade in livestock to Saudi Arabia during the haj is worth a lot more than foreign assistance.