Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dear Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, I Like You, Do You Like Me? Check Yes/No

Jeffrey Gettleman has written an open love letter to the Somali Islamic Militias in today's New York Times. It seems the militias have brought peace and order and are headed for a democratic transition. The naysayers were wrong and the comparisons to the Taliban far-fetched to say the least. Sure, there are little matters like the as yet unsolved assassination attempt on the Somalian President, the murder of an Italian nun and the public floggings, but did you know that they are allowing people to play soccer and eat watermelon?

Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps this will all turn out for the best and I am just a horrible cynic who has come to expect the worst from Islamists through my own deeply held prejudices. Or perhaps the public relations campaign being run by the militias is evidence that they are getting smarter. Why doom your plans for a theocratic state right from the start when a friendly letter to the U.N. and some empty statements about democracy will get people off their guard. I hope that I am just being my usual jaded self, and that things turn out for the best for the people of Somalia. But I've been on this planet long enough now to know that when an Islamist militia manages to take control of the capital of a long failed state, the victory of the moderate voice is hardly the most likely option.

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