Somalis over the years have lived under the most trying circumstances imaginable, facing acute poverty, lawlessness and anarchy. Of course, there have been a lucky few who had defected from their homeland and escaped the rigors of the civil war.
However, so far, no one has paid any heed or notice to what has transpired over the years at Somalia except for a few journalists and international aid workers. Hence, what exactly is the root cause of radicalism in Somalia? There has always been a correlation between poverty, the vicious cycle of violence and anarchy, and the same reasons make Somalia water as one of the most badly affected maritime piracy areas.
Finding the Root Cause
The inhabitants of Somalia are mostly Sunni Muslims. Those who did not defect to other lands had to endure destitution, prolonged drought, and desertification and soil erosion. Many Somalis are nomads who eek out their meager livelihood from their flocks, but natural disasters have wiped out humongous portions of their livestock, leaving them stranded with no alternative income to support their families. A tiny percentage of the population who are farmers had to witness the decrease of their yield of crops due to soil erosion, lack of fertilizers and instability.
The income gap between the minority elite and the poor have widened tremendously. In Somalia, they have the freest liberated open market economy in the world, with no central bank to control money supply, set interest rates or control inflation. Economic policies are balanced by demand and supply. Those who have ideas and resources galore are thriving entrepreneurs minting tax free profits, while the majority can hardly make both ends meet. The remittance from the Somali Dias pore Community and aid from international humanitarian organizations keep the economy going.
Somali Sea Coast and the Business of Piracy
Somalia has the longest coast in Africa but Somalis have never exploited the potential of their seas for various reasons. Those who had ventured out to sea were out muscled by illegal foreign fishing trawlers and they depleted the stock of fish in these territorial waters and polluted it by dumping nuclear and toxic wastes. Adversity prompted the Somalis to test new ways of making money and former fishermen joined hands with the militia and unemployed youth to hijack vessels and demand ransom. This was the start of piracy in Somalia.
These pirates of Somalia transformed this into a sophisticated business venture that makes use of modern technology and global positioning devices to track their next prey. The piracy in Somalia is a major threat to the busiest shipping lines in the world but even though super powers have joined hands to put an end to this piracy, it is a daunting task since the territorial waters are too huge to police. It is an indicator of the limitation of conventional war machine against the threats of this century.
Irresponsible Government, Unattended People, and Eradicating Piracy
Somalia has not had an effective central government for almost two decades now. The weak government is battling with insurgency to secure the capital and is preoccupied with internal wars and foreign lands waging a proxy war. The pirates in Somalia handle the most effective institutions in the country. They reinvest the ransom money procured from hijacking and piracy to plan out their next move. They effectively out muscle the regional government and offer a glimmer of hope to the unemployed youth of Somalia by paying them handsomely for aiding them in piracy. Piracy in Somalia is expected to grow drastically in the years to come.
The international community has a huge moral responsibility to find a lasting solution to the piracy in Somalia. Steps should be taken to restore authority, credibility of the central government and think of ways to create alternative employment for the youngsters through non government organizations, UN agencies, regional and local administration. The pirates of Somalia can be retrained, registered and given employment as coast guards to protect Somalia territorial waters from illegal foreign fishing trawlers. Others can be provided with fishing equipment and given preferential market access where they can sell their catch. This will help in boosting the income and prosperity of the local economy.
If the root cause of this piracy is not tackled very soon, Somalia will become a country of pirates and a radical state. Radicalism cannot be rooted out by military force but the hearts and minds of the youngsters should be won by educating them, providing them a source of income and making them a part of the main stream society.
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