Last month, the Washington Post reported the Bush administration was “secretly supporting secular warlords” in Somalia “who have been waging fierce battles against Islamic groups for control of the capital, Mogadishu.” Some of these warlords reportedly “fought against the United States in 1993 during street battles that culminated in an attack that downed two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters and left 18 Army Rangers dead.”
U.S. support for these militias upset the Somali prime minister, who said, “We would prefer that the U.S. work with the transitional government and not with criminals. … This is a dangerous game. Somalia is not a stable place and we want the U.S. in Somalia. But in a more constructive way.”
He’s not the only Somalian upset with the policy. Reuters reports today:
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Mogadishu on Friday angrily condemning the United States for supporting warlords involved in clashes with Islamic militias that claimed 16 more lives overnight. ["¦]
Some 350 people have been killed in three bouts of heavy fighting since the start of the year in the fighting that had focused on the capital but has now moved beyond Mogadishu.
The policy of supporting the “enemy of the enemy” is further destabilizing Somalia, but a shift in policy is unlikely. Last week, the State Department transferred Michale Zorick, the former political affairs officer for Somalia, to a different post after he spoke out against supporting the warlords.