Monday, June 05, 2006

When Low Profile Fails

We have a joint task force based out of Djibouti that has been waging a quiet and low key struggle in the Horn of Africa to fight jihadi influence.

Well, we just lost a battle, as al Qaeda-types have captured Mogadishu despite our aid to anti-jihadi groups:

"We won the fight against the enemy of Islam. Mogadishu is under control of its people," Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, chairman of the Islamic Courts Union, said in a radio broadcast. The militia, which has formed an alliance that transcends clan, controls a 65-mile radius around the capital after fighting off a secular alliance of warlords.

When a lower level of struggle fails, one has to consider going up the escalation ladder to reverse the defeat. Can we get locals to reverse this defeat? If we can't succeed at the level of supporting locals, we will have to consider more direct action.

And lest anyone fear another "Mogadishu" where we lost 18 troops in 1993; remember that we killed 500 to 1,000 of the enemy and got our force out in the end. The enemy couldn't take many such "victories."

I should think that we'd at least agree that we can't let the jihadis gain a sanctuary to plot our murder. Good grief, they hate Canadians, too, you know.

Watch for our response.

UPDATE: Strategypage notes the problem and a possible response:

The Islamic Courts oppose the current transitional government, and want to establish a religious dictatorship. The United States has to do something about this, and will probably start with covert activities and raids. A few men on the ground, and a few aircraft full of smart bombs over head, can move negotiations along. The U.S. will attempt to persuade key Islamic Courts leaders to back off on supporting Islamic terrorists.

The United States is trying to get the tribal, clan, and warlord forces who have been opposing the Islamic Courts Movement, to cooperate more effectively, but the effort is being stymied by traditional rivalries and cross-claims, as well as opposition from the Somali provisional government. In short, the Islamic Courts Movement is gaining power and territory.

The locals are not quite ready to call it quits in the face of the jihadi victory:

Backed by thousands of chanting supporters Tuesday, the Somali capital's largest clan threatened to attack Islamic militiamen who do not leave part of the city they seized this week in a blow to U.S. foreign policy.

Protesters shouted "We don't need Islamic deception!" and "We don't want Islamic courts, we want peace!" at a rally called by the Abgal clan. The leaders of the capital's largest and historically strongest clan had controlled northern Mogadishu since 1991.

We may see if some special ops types calling in firepower can do on a smaller scale what we did in Afghanistan. As Strategypage notes, we have to do something about this.

UPDATE: The President notes the importance of this development:

"There's instability in Somalia," Bush said in Texas where he was traveling. "The first concern, of course, is to make sure that Somalia does not become an al-Qaida safe haven — it doesn't become a place from which terrorists can plot and plan."

That this has crossed the President's desk so soon should indicate its importance. We will do something.

But remember that the lost battle is not a lost war. Locals are still ready to counter-attack:

Fighters loyal to a U.S-backed alliance of warlords appeared to be preparing for a counterattack on a fundamentalist Islamic militia that had pushed them out of Somalia's capital, witnesses said Wednesday.

It remains to be seen how much support they need to prevent Somalia from becoming a place from which terrorists can plot and plan.