Islamists Poised to Seize Power in Somalia in Setback to US Policy

It has been over three years since Somalia’s self-proclaimed government was booted from its upscale hotels by the neighboring Kenyan government and attempted to actually assert its authority over the long-stateless nation. Propped up by international support and a US-backed Ethiopian invasion they have managed to last longer than the other would-be rulers of the region since 1991, but they too seem doomed to the same fate.

The Ethiopian troops fueled a militant Islamist insurgency. Now, rather than returning to its pre-Transitional National Government (TNG) situation as a stateless society with a system of influential Islamic Courts, the nation appears headed toward a Taliban-style Islamist autocracy.

Bad for the Somalis, but its also something of an embarrassing setback for the United States government, which supported the Ethiopian occupation and launched air strikes of its own on several occasions. The US strikes sparked protests, and will likely be used as a rallying point for the Islamists, once they’ve finished ousting the US-allied government and move on to consolidating their own power.

Exactly what the US reaction will be if this trend continues is not clear. Some Somalis seem hopeful that President-elect Obama will be even more eager to intervene in the country. But if the current government falls, there are no more potential governments convening at Kenyan sports arenas to replace them.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of