Inside the Islamist rout
...The Guardian says the leader of the Union Of Islamic Courts, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, is in Nairobi, Kenya. I have seen no explanation of how one gets to be a double sheikh. Meanwhile, Martin Fletcher over at the Times of London ispretty down beat about the happy development:
The Islamists' military defeat has also damaged them politically. Matt Brydon, an independent Somalia analyst based in Nairobi, said that the Courts - who rose to prominence in June when they drove US-backed warlords out of Mogadishu - had, in effect, "dissolved themselves".
"The military defeat seems to have translated into a withdrawal of support from the Hawiye clan," he said. The Hawiye is one of Mogadishu's most influential clans and the Courts owed much of their sudden rise to prominence to the support they received from Hawiye businessmen and clan elders frustrated by fighting between rival warlords.
Mr Brydon said: "When the Hawiye turned against them, the Courts had no choice. They had to hand over the weapons and trucks to the clan and leave Mogadishu. They have lost a large part of their constituency and are clearly in disarray."
...I wonder how he left out making the trains run on time? Mussolini and Hitler both had some success in restoring order, but the price was awful high If you recall, that was also the Taliban's claim to fame. In fact anarchy and chaos are part of the al Qaeda strategy where ever they are fighting including in Iraq. Their hope is that they will be perceived as better than the chaos they participated in.
To Washington the Union is — or was — a new Taleban: al-Qaeda sympathisers who were turning Somalia into a haven for terrorists including those responsible for the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
That may or may not be true, but most Somalis I met welcomed the Union because it had banished the warlords who had reduced their country to mayhem during 15 years of civil war. For the first time in a generation people could walk the streets in safety. Gone were the ubiquitous checkpoints where the warlords’ militias extorted and killed. Guns had been banned. Somalis who had fled the violence were returning from abroad.
The Union did reintroduce public executions, ban the narcotic qat and discourage Western music, films and dancing, but that seemed a small price to pay. Asked if he feared the Union would become a religious police, one educated, middle-class Somali who ran a humanitarian relief organisation replied: “Even if they do, they'd be far better than the warlords who were conducting slow genocide.”