U.S. Sees Growing Threats In Somalia
By Karen DeYoung
The Washington Post
December 18, 2006
Six months ago, the Bush administration launched a new policy in war-torn Somalia, putting the State Department in charge after secret CIA efforts failed to prevent Islamic fundamentalists from seizing power in Mogadishu. It hoped that diplomacy would draw the Islamists into partnership with more palatable, U.S.-backed Somali leaders.
Today, that goal seems more distant than ever. Since coming to power in June, the Islamists have expanded their hold on the south. A largely powerless, U.S.-backed rump government remains divided and isolated in the southern town of Baidoa. U.S.-sponsored talks, and a separate Arab League effort, seem to be going nowhere.
Al-Qaeda, long hovering in the shadows, has established itself as a presence in the Somali capital, say U.S. officials, who see a growing risk that Somalia will become a new haven for terrorists to launch attacks beyond its borders.
Meanwhile, a major war -- promoted and greeted approvingly by Osama bin Laden -- looms between Somalia and Ethiopia, threatening a regional conflagration likely to draw more foreign extremists into the Horn of Africa.
Among administration officials, Congress, U.S. allies and other interested and fearful parties, there is a rising sense that Somalia is spinning rapidly out of control. But even as events there have focused Washington's attention, they have led to a wave of finger-pointing and a feeling that there are few good ideas and little time for turning the situation around.
A wide range of interviews and commentary last week provided assessments that differed only in their degree of bleakness and apportionment of blame.
Read the rest: