Surely to be lost even farther due to today's developments in Iraq are the developments on the Horn of Africa, with the Islamic Courts (Taliban) defeating the warlords and taking Mogadishu. National Review has an excellent brief Symposium on Somalia & al Qaeda posted at NRO. Below are some quotes from the participants.
Peter Brookes: The way it looks now, it’s al Qaeda (e.g., Al Ittihad al Islami), the Taliban (e.g., Islamic Courts Union) and a bunch of ruthless warlords—all in one poor, lawless state that might, just might, become the next Afghanistan.
Thomas Jocelyn: There are reports that several of the perpetrators of the 1998 embassy bombings are currently protected in Mogadishu. The cell that harbors those terrorists is even thought to have executed an attack against an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya in 2002, while simultaneously failing to shoot down an Israeli airliner. Al Qaeda and its allies claimed “victory” in Somalia in 1994. There was no robust American response. Al Qaeda’s allies are once again claiming victory in Mogadishu today. What is America going to do about it?
Paul Marshall: Further to the south, in Tanzania, Islamists have bombed bars and beaten women they thought inadequately covered. Time magazine quoted one activist, Mohammed Madi, “We get our funds from Yemen and Saudi Arabia ... Officially the money is used to buy medicine, but in reality the money is given to us to support our work and buy guns.”
Cliff May: A militant Islamist government in Somalia, giving refuge to terrorists, should be seen as unacceptable. Already, there are reports that three al Qaeda leaders indicted in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania are being sheltered by Mogadishu’s new rulers.
Andy McCarthy: To have what is potentially a new terror state arise notwithstanding all that strongly suggests to our enemies that if they hang in long enough, we don’t have the resolve to defeat them, which is what bin Laden has been telling them all along—thus boosting his credibility (and remember: anything that boosts his credibility increases al Qaeda’s ability to recruit and train new operatives).
David Pryce-Jones: Now on top thanks to their guns, the so-called Islamic Courts Union is comparable to the Taliban as they once took power in Afghanistan. Their first steps include a demand for the imposition of sharia, and the mounting of anti-American demonstrations. This is certainly a setback, with the potential of turning ugly.Michael Rubin: While some news reports try to put a positive spin on the situation—saying, for example, that the Islamist militia might restore order, this is shortsighted and eerily parallels the spin which journalists put on the 1996 Taliban takeover of Kabul.
ThreatsWatch will have in-depth coverage of Somalia and the Horn of Africa theater in short order.