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Somalia is Not a Soap Opera - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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There is nothing wrong with the people of a neighborhood hastening to “the Sheik” or the Mayor, in order for him to mediate between them and solve their differences peacefully [as occurs in Arabic soap operas], but it is strange for a Sheik to mediate to bring peace to a country torn by civil-war. This is evidence of the depth of the Arab crisis and its poor condition.

The response of the Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed to the initiative proposed by Sheik Yusuf Al-Qaradawi [as President of the International Union of Muslim Scholars] for the sake of unity, dialogue and reconciliation between the Somali factions, can only be described as evidence of Arab impotence, both at the national level, as well as at the level of the Arab League.

For in response to Sheik Al Qaradawi’s proposal, the Somali President said that he hopes “that the [Muslim] people [in Sudan] respond to Sheik Al Qaradawi’s call, and that good things come of this, and that God rewards those who respond to the Sheik’s [proposal] and unite to build Somalia from anew.”

The question; is Somalia like an Arab soap opera for a Sheik to act as a mediator, assembling the people of the neighborhood and easily solving their disputes so that peace can prevail?

Of course not, for the situation in Somalia is much more complex than this.

Somalia is a state that has collapsed in every sense of the word, suffering from a lack of a central government and the absence of all state infrastructure to the point that the new Somali President said that he was unable to confirm the presence of Al Qaeda in Somalia. Although he did confirm that “the Jihadist ideology has spread throughout country.” This comes at the same time that a number of reports indicate that Al Qaeda have indeed infiltrated Somalia, which is unsurprising since Al Qaeda only flourishes in countries that are in ruins. Indeed the simple presence of what the Somali President himself described as jihadist ideology is a threat in itself; for this is a breeding-ground for Al Qaeda.

Above all of this, [Somali] piracy in the Red Sea represents a real threat to international shipping, and a threat to the economy and security of the countries bordering the Red Sea, which of course is a result of the chaos and infighting in Somalia.

If such is the reality in Somalia, how can it possibly be within Sheik Al Qaradawi’s capabilities to solve this country’s problems?

If Qaradawi did not succeed in mediating with the Taliban regarding the destruction of the statues [of the Buddhas of Bamyan in Afghanistan in 2001]; then how will he succeed in restoring stability to Somalia?

Here we must recall the Islamic delegation –that included Sheik Hassan Al Turabi- that visited Baghdad to intercede with Saddam Hussein during the occupation of Kuwait. For that day the delegation almost “sold” Kuwait to Saddam Hussein; and so is there not a lesson to be learnt from this?

Due to all of this the talk of Al Qaradawi mediating in Somalia is not cause for optimism so much as it is cause for frustration, as a result of the Arab deficiencies at governmental level, and at the level of the Arab League, and at the failure to understand the gravity of the situation in Somalia.

All that we wish from Sheik Yusuf Al Qaradawi is the initiative to review many of the fatwas that he issued in the past, such as those which permit suicide bombings. By doing so, the Sheik will contribute to the stability of Somalia by preventing Somalis from carrying out suicide operations.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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