field. What they are doing is absolutely immoral and un-islamic. But they sanction all their decisions religiously. This should give us a preview of what is in-store for unsuspecting and unprepared Somalis. However unable to avoid the influence of traditional Islamic and clan leaders in Somalia, Islamic extremists use money to bribe a lot of them and promote their agenda. Thus, the stateless situation and poverty is pushing clan leaders and Islamic clerics in Somalia to join the fundamentalist camp. Almost every mosque in Somalia is being led by ulamas either bribed or convinced by extremists. The teachings in the mosques are not purely religious. Most of the teaching is centered on criticizing the corrupt influence of warlords, individualistic, hedonistic, and permissive western and Christian culture.Like in many other parts of the world, Islamists in Somalia are pursuing a new,ideological and non-traditional approach to Islam. They speak of their movement asan ideology and not a religion; the target is purely political, they have their eyeon the state and not the clergy and espouse an Islamic republic as an end goal. Worse, Islamists in Somalia control almost all business and political structures. They have laid a solid structure and foundation for the past 20 years while keeping
a low profile. Every lucrative and strategic business in Somalia is run by a rotating fund of Islamist forces. Clearly fundamentalists are slowly but steadily controlling Somalia. The method is very effective because it follows a bottom-up approach of multi-faceted process of state-formation unseen before in other parts of the world.They are using a grass roots approach and a combined struggle of using ideology, business, and military expansionism in a typical state formation applied in the past to create the modern states. If this process reaches its final stage which the ICU has been pushing for it for the past two months by capturing and controlling the whole country, they will become highly regimented, formidable and a hard nut to crack.The ICU’s hard elements are no less dangerous than the Taliban if they continue on
the current path they have chosen. They have both the intent and the capacity to destabilize the region and international order at large. Distinguishing between moderate ICU groups that participate within society and violent revolutionaries is critical to understanding and containing the ICU resurgence. Many opponents of political Islam have charged that all Islamic movements are extremist groups thatseek to “hijack democracy” and manipulate the political system in order to gain power and impose their will. However, I will argue that this type of reaction contributes to the radicalization of moderate Muslims and in this case, the moderateICU wing headed by Sheikh Sheriff.The record of Ethiopia shows that it has both the political, organizational andmilitary capacity to deal with Islamic terrorist groups and their supporters in theregion. But the world should give it serious attention, political backing and value it as part and parcel of dealing or containing the Islamic Courts Union hard elements and anti-Ethiopian opposition groups. Ethiopia should be also careful not to be seen as anti-Islamic force. How Ethiopia handles the ICU’s hard elements will determine winning support from its own Muslim majority and among Somalis or creating opposition to it self both domestically and internationally. Somalia’s neighboring countries should take the ICU very seriously, they should engage, demand dialogueg with the weak interim government and when necessary use a decisive, overwhelming force to disband the ICU. The road ahead is tough but we can’t afford to waiver or we will live with the consequence for a long time.
Shamso Omar is a PHD candidate in Economics.
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