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Reporting from Somalia and Why War is Boring

Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2007

Two World Politics Review contributors, David Axe and Daria Solovieva, recently took a trip to Somalia to look at the ongoing war there and what has become, according to some, the largest humanitarian crisis in Africa.

First, Axe and Solovieva filed a curtain raising piece on the daunting situation faced by Somalia's newly appointed prime minister. Then Solovieva examined the humanitarian crisis in depth. Finally, Axe provided a look at the ability of the African Union peacekeeping force to keep its tenuous hold on the "bridgehead" it has established in Mogadishu.

For more reading, check out David Axe's Somalia journal on his blog, War is Boring. Here's his latest Somalia journal entry, at the bottom of which he provides links to previous journal installments for those who want to catch up. Here's a taste from day eight:

The first time we went to the tiny movie house near the Mogadishu seaport, with a mind to doing some interviews, the manager fussed at us for not making an appointment. It was tense, but not alarming. We promised to call ahead next time.

And we did. Even so, when we arrived at the cinema a couple days later, we almost started a riot.

Our security guards stayed outside. We went inside with our fixers. A hundred pairs of moviegoers' eyes — kids, mostly — drifted away from the Bollywood flick on the big TV and followed us as we walked to the back of the room. There were murmurs; a few got up to leave. And outside, we could hear arguing. Someone had confronted our guards.

That someone was a man claiming to be the neighborhood "mayor." He bustled inside with his thugs, waving at us to put away our cameras. He said we needed his permission to work in the neighborhood — and permission from the government. We said we had government clearance. So he invented a sub-level of clearance and said we needed that, too.

The theater owner was aghast, caught in the middle, having invited us in without realizing how the 'hood would react. He was powerless to stop the rapidly growing and angry crowd. Several AK-47s were in evidence. . . .

Also check out the darkly funny War is Boring comic strip by David Axe and Matt Bors.