Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mr. Kipkorir: Annexing and dividing Somalia is a call for balkanization of Horn of Africa
By Bashir Goth

As the piracy of the Somali coast took a new and dangerous turn with the hijacking of a ship carrying T-72 Tanks, rocket-propelled grenades and other ammunition destined for Southern Sudan, a Kenyan lawyer had the audacity to call neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia to annex the hapless country and divide it between them as a final solution for the Somali problem.

In his opinion article carried by Kenya’s Daily Nation, Mr. Donald Kipkorir, who is an advocate of the Kenyan High Court, argued annexing Somalia was the strategic interest for Kenya, viewing it as the only way to stop Kenya’s tourism industry from teetering towards destruction.

But what Mr.Kipkorir sees as a strategic interest is a strategic miscalculation for disaster which will not only bring the destruction of Kenya and Ethiopia but will usher in an era of balkanization in the entire region of the Horn of Africa.

Mr.Kipkorir forgets that Kenya and Ethiopia are tribal mine fields that are waiting to be triggered and his call for the annexation of Somalia is only what it needs to start genocides in Kenya and Ethiopia. One has to remember the recent election crisis in Kenya and how the country stood on the brink of ethnic fragmentation. Kenya has more than 42 ethnic groups, speaking more than 62 languages and adhering to various religious affiliations while Ethiopia has about 118 ethnic groups with almost similar number of languages and different religions. The summer 2008 ethnic strife resulting from the Presidential election crisis had exposed the fragility of the Kenyan peace and stability and the degree of hatred and hostility among the Kenyan tribes. The scenes of machete-wielding mobs slaughtering their neighbors and looting shops reminded the world of the horrors of Ruwanda. These were just symbolic of how ugly a tribal strife can turn in Kenya if something disturbs the elusive patchwork of loose tribal confederation called Kenya.

Mr.Kipkorir also seems to have forgotten that despite its current problems, Somalia is the only homogenous country in Africa. Somalis are one ethnic group who speak the same language and adhere to the same religion. They may look divisive and anarchic in their internal skirmishes on the country’s meager resources but they have history of quickly clinging together when they face a common foreign threat.

Remember Mr.Kipkorir, it is these people that you call rag-tag army of semi naked men that stood against the British and Italian armies for 20 years in one of the longest drawn out African rebellions against foreign occupation. It was the dervish movement led by the Somali hero Mohammed Abdulla Hassan, known in history as the Mad Mulla, the derogative name given to him by the British, that the Royal army failed to defeat until it used military aircraft against them in the first aerial bombardment ever used by a European power in Africa, even before the Italian air bombardment of Libya.

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Time to Share the Top Spot, America
By Bashir Goth

There is no doubt that this financial meltdown marks a defining moment for America's global influence. My guess is that America will weather this crisis, partly due to the government rescue plan and partly due to the ingenuity of the American people. But it is also my guess that the rest of the world may not be ready to undergo the same fear again and may opt to build shock absorbers against any similar future eventualities.

It is natural for a country to reassess its socio-economic situation and draw plans to guarantee healthy future trade with the outside world. We have precedents in the Great Depression and how it brought in big government role into the U.S. economy, the Marshall Plan after WWII and how it created a new world economic order and the 1973 Oil Shock that brought the issue of energy security to the fore.

It was in the aftermath of the Oil Shock that US created the strategic Petroleum Reserve in 1975, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) founded the International Energy Agency (IEA) in 1974, and launched a vigorous push for the search of alternative energy.

In the same way, it is obvious that the U.S. financial crisis will herald a kind of a "New Deal" for world economic cooperation. Many African, Caribbean and Pacific leaders currently meeting in Ghana have realized that their trade with the so-called emerging economies such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa as well as Australia has cushioned their economies against the impact of the U.S. financial crisis. That's an indication that the U.S. is losing its world trade dominance. That should invigorate trade between regional blocks such as Africa, Asia and Europe.

Yes, with its economic and military might, America will continue to have a great influence on world affairs. But one may wonder whether America will still dictate the terms as usual, or whether it will find itself in a new territory. The U.S. may need to readjust its bearings, sharing space and influence with newcomers.