May 22, 2007

Islamic Courts and the reconciliation conference

Recently, Italy, a former colonizer of southern Somalia, announced they will pay for the reconciliation conference scheduled mid June. The government had earlier planned for about 4000 tribal and political leaders to attend, with some pressure for EU and US, it's down to 1200 participants. The government also announced Islamic Courts leaders can take part in the conference only if they're selected by their tribes. This is a clever way to silence those calling for the Islamic Courts to participate because Islamic Courts's support was limited to few sub-sub-clans, who wouldn't pick them up for the conference because they no longer have the guns.

Other tribes will object as well. This reconciliation conference (and all the 13 or 14 conference before it) was organized around tribes, as the government is, so other Somali tribes wouldn't accept Hawiye being represented both as a tribe and as a political entity and Hawiye, given the choice, wouldn't select top Islamic Courts leaders either. So, I don't think they can or will attend the conference. Is that going to have an impact? Some people say that for a real reconciliation you need the Islamic Courts, I don't think so. The Islamic Courts as an armed movement doesn't exist anymore. The attacks in Mogadishu is carried out by former militias and other militants that aren't part of the Islamic Courts so they've almost no political or military power to speak of.

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