Against the backdrop of starvation and warfare, there are signs that Somalia’s decline might soon turn around. At this point in Somalia’s tortured history, the country’s fortunes are tethered to its resurgent Islamist groups.
In early November, one of southern Somalia’s major ports fell to an advancing Islamist army. The U.N. had been using the “beach port” at Merka to deliver thousands of tons of food aid to refugee camps on the outskirts of Mogadishu. With its fall to the Islamists, there was concern that food shipments might be disrupted. But Pete Smerdon, a U.N. spokesman in Nairobi, Kenya, told World Politics Review that there is “no indication” the Islamists’ rise will have any effect at all on the aid effort.
That’s good news, for Islamists likely represent Somalia’s future. This year, two main Islamic groups have made steady gains in the country’s south, two years after they were driven from Mogadishu by a mixed army of Ethiopians, northern Somali militiamen and U.S. Special Forces.
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