Is Somalia Doomed to Repeat History?

"Look, these people, they have no jobs, no food, no education, no future. I just figure that we have two things we can do. Help, or we can sit back and watch a country destroy itself on CNN." --Sgt. Matt Eversmann in "Blackhawk Down."

Pity the poor Somalis, or the millions of them that have not yet found sanctuary in Europe, Canada or the United States. Recent events seem to have sucked them back into the cycle of violence and destruction that ruined the country in the 1990s, and made Somalia the poster-child for the concept of the failed state -- a country without institutions or basic services, where malnutrition is commonplace. Now, the possibility of reconciliation among competing groups may be evaporating as clans once again squabble over the spoils of victory and the vanquished melt away, only to plot their return.

In the final days of 2006, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) was swept out of Somalia's capital -- six months after their equally sudden seizure of Mogadishu. In between, the ICU had spread its authority through Mogadishu and beyond to much of central and southern Somalia, bringing a rare sense of security and even reopening Mogadishu's airport for the first time in 13 years. The demise of the Islamic Courts was inflicted not by their opponents in the transitional government but by an invasion of Ethiopian troops and armor. Its defeat exposed suspected al-Qaida operatives that had taken shelter in Mogadishu -- and suddenly brought the United States into Somalia's nightmare in the most visible way for a decade.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.