ROME, JAN. 11, 2007 (Zenit.org).- In the wake of routing the Islamic movement that controlled Somalia, the bishop of Djibouti says that the country's fate now totters between a weak, transitional government and chaos.
Bishop Giorgio Bertin made these comments in a statement issued by Caritas Internationalis in which he expressed his fear that the current government will collapse if Ethiopian troops pull out.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since clan-based warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, and then turned on one other, and drove the country into a state of anarchy.
[Background on recent Somali history]
"If Ethiopia withdraws its troops and there is no support mechanism put in place, the transitional government can't stand on its own. It will collapse," said Bishop Bertin, who is also the apostolic administrator of Mogadishu, and president of Caritas in Somalia and Djibouti.
"If the international community does not intervene, there is a real risk that Somalia could go back to the worst violence and clan warfare of 1991," he continued. "We need an African or U.N. force, supported by the Europeans and the North Americans, in place to fill the void once the Ethiopians leave."
In its own interest, and at the request of the Somali interim government, Kenya has sealed off its border with Somalia to prevent Islamic militants from escaping the country.
"We also have to understand this severe measure," said Bishop Bertin. "Kenya is worried about the huge influx of Somalis, especially the threat of Islamists entering and destabilizing its territory."
Kenya lacks the capacity to effectively screen people wanting to cross the border, continued the bishop, so until Kenya can guarantee that a system is in place that distinguishes between refugees and possible militants, this is the solution.
Friends, notice the double standard. Kenya may close its border to the possible criminal element, but the US may not...
The bishop said that the most difficult task will be piecing back together Somalia's fragmented society, which has almost been completely destroyed.
I just bring this up in light of my recent post on the Republic of Somaliland in the north. If one read only the comments of the bishop, one would never know that there is in fact a functioning democratic state in the north.
Foreign policy-makers in the Secretariat of State take note: your next nunciature is waiting to be built in Somalia and it should not be in Mogadishu.