Somalia: Scoundrels and Scallywags

Since the very beginning (1960) Somalia has been troubled to say the least.  It seems to be plagued by endless fighting, famine, and hostage situations.  But these days the general chaos of the “country” has been over shadowed by the on going piracy in the unregulated waters off the Somali coast.  So how on earth did we get to this point?


To start, Somalia is actually made up of three separate countries; Somaliland, Puntland, and Somalia.  Somaliland being the only success story, other than that you would be advised to keep your ass on the Kenyan side of the boarder.  

In the most general sense there are two major “sides” fighting over the country.  In one corner we have the US supported, Ethiopian supported, internationally recognized Islamic government run by Sheik Sharif who has agreed to a ceasefire and seems to be focused on stabilization and cooperation.  And in the other corner we have a more conservative element of Islamic militant groups that are insisting on the removal of all outside forces in the country (i.e. ARS–Asmara, Al Shabaab, Hisbul Islam) prior to a ceasefire.  This, along with numerous warring clans and different rebel groups has set the perfect backdrop for the chaos that permeates the region, most noticeably in the piracy that continues to make headlines. 

To make a long story short, the region has been in such a state of chaos for the last twenty years that they haven’t been able to effectively regulate and patrol their coastal waters.  This unregulated area has since become a free-for-all for fishing vessels.  And as time has passed, more and more fishing vessels made their way to the untapped, unregulated waters off the Somali coast only to engage in illegal fishing practices (often backed by “permits” issued by local warlords).  Some of the illegal activities have included smaller-than-allowed mesh nets, special lighting to attract fish, and even toxic waste dumping.

With no government in place, the villagers had no way to fight back…well it turns out they had one way.  It is believed that what started out as men with guns forcing boats to leave an area, turned into the more profitable business of hostage taking.  But like a famous American rapper once said “Mo Money, Mo Problems”.  And now the international community has become ever so aware of the problems in Somalia.

Currently the problems there are affecting imports and exports in and around Somalia, and even tourism on the east African coast.  Shipments going through the area are in constant jeopardy, and the good people of Somalia are getting hit hard in the form of displacement, food shortages, malnutrition, and human rights violations.   

So what’s next?  Well, a few things need to happen before Somalia makes its way up the ranks as a top holiday destination.  Despite its miles of coast line, the looming threat of death will no doubt distract you from enjoying a daiquiri in peace.  Here they are, in no particular order: 

  1. An effective peace keeping operation needs to be in place
  2. Enforcement of the arms embargo
  3. A human rights watch
  4. A effective system of law that includes regulation of the coastal waters
  5. Aid to displaced people of the region

So, that being said…what’s the hold up?

December 22, 2009