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Will Al-Qaeda Get Its Own Country?

Posted on July 26 2010 10:00 am
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For the first time ever, Al-Qaeda will have its own country, unless the African Union with U.S. support stops them. Even though Al-Qaeda had a stronghold in Afghanistan, they were merely harbored by the Taliban. Right now, al-Shabaab, which is essentially a branch of Al-Qaeda, controls a lot of southern Somalia and most of Mogadishu. And al-Shabaab has proven particularly adept at building networks right here in the United States.

Luckily, Al-Qaeda has a nasty little habit of overreaching. Al-Shabaab has threatened the neighboring countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Kenya. Earlier this month, the terrorist group set off two bombs in Kampala, killing at least 74 people watching the World Cup. The group is instituting Sharia Law in the land it controls, banning things like bras, soccer games and music. So, basically, the al-Shabaab members are professional party poopers.

Now, the African Union is talking about sending more troops to Somalia. Unfortunately, the truth is that the only thing that will dislodge al-Shabaab is a counter-insurgency strategy that will be very bloody and will get everyone talking about a Black Hawk Down sequel. It’s unclear how aggressive the AU is willing to be, but al-Shabaab’s decision to threaten and attack other countries is definitely giving them motivation to act.

Predictably, the pro-Iran Afewerki dictatorship of Eritrea is opposed to sending any more forces. As I wrote about here, the Eritrean government has been sanctioned for supporting al-Shabaab and other radical Islamic militants in Somalia. The current status of the relationship is unknown, but if the ties have been severed, the deployment of AU forces to Somalia might cause a rapprochement. And if there is any evidence that Eritrea is supporting radical elements in Somalia, then Secretary of State Clinton should follow the suggestion of Rep. Ed Royce and add them to the State Department’s list of state sponsors.

We saw what Al-Qaeda did when it received the protection of a government. Now imagine what it will do if it is the government.

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