Thursday, December 28, 2006

Islamic Fundamentalists Ousted From Mogadishu With Unexpected Ease

It has only taken a few days for Ethiopian troops, backing indigenous Somali non-Islamists, to oust the Islamic fascist regime from Mogadishu, the Somalian capital, and one thing this demonstrates is that the fundamentalists may not be as strong as commonly perceived.

There are reports this morning of joy in the streets of Somalian cities, as a regime which had executed some persons for watching international soccer, and threatened to execute others who weren't praying five times a day, is sent fleeing. Its foreign fighters imported to fight the war have disbanded in confusion. Some may have been caught on the high seas this morning by that sterling institution, the Yemeni Navy.

The Islamists also recruited hundreds of junior high and high school students to fight their battles. These units could not stand up against the Ethiopian army for more than a day or two.

When we observe such a fast unraveling of what had been viewed as a threatening force, one wonders just how strong fundamentalism is. It could be, under the right circumstances in other countries, the Islamist forces would also collapse quickly with a little push.

Citizens in the Middle East, along with those in the horn of Africa, could well be delighted to see such an onerous religious regimen ousted, and a simple forceful declaration that such practices as the enslavement of women, frequent executions by beheading, and bans on all drinking and gambling, will no longer be permitted, might well prove availing.

Why is Iraq so difficult, then? Why have things gone from bad to worse in that benighted country?

It has to be the sectarian divisions which have been allowed to fester, pitting one ethnic group against another, Sunnis vs. Shiites, and so forth. Finding a solution to these could well spell a rapid decrease in the ongoing violence.

In this context, I wonder whether not permitting Saddam Hussein to be executed might help facilitate a settlement. If indeed he has supporters in any number of the Sunni population, could sparing him assuage their feelings without arousing too much the Shiites? Could a commutation to, say, life imprisonment, not soothe such feelings, and if so, isn't it worth trying?

In Iran, too, there have been recent signs of the public being fed up with the excesses of the ruling mullahs and their handmaiden, the fanatical Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad was dealt a setback in local elections and booed by students at a university. It could be that the right shove here, as in Somalia, would lead to a quick unraveling of the ruling regime.

Lawrence Wright, in his recent book, "The Looming Tower," about the origins of al-Qaeda, suggests that its adherents hold such extreme views, and are so inclined to internecine warfare, that the whole Nazi-like apparatus could, at some point, come tumbling down.

It is such prospects that convince me that the cut-and-runners in Washington, Sens. Kerry, Levin and Biden among others, not to mention the weak-kneed Washington press corps, are mistaken and that, if we fight on, success might be in the offing, just as has happened in Somalia.

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